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Why We Homeschool, part 3 August 28, 2007

Posted by Laura in Faith, Family, Homeschooling.

As fall approached, I vacillated between excitement that Benjamin was old enough to start this adventure and anxiety/sadness that we had entered this phase of our lives already. Benjamin was alternately excited and quite apprehensive before the year started. None of his neighborhood buddies were in his class and he didn’t know any of his classmates.

I got a good feeling from his Kindergarten teacher and the other children seemed nice. The parents at the school were very positive and involved. There was no Christian teaching, but we could handle that ourselves between home and church. Unfortunately, Benjamin experienced extreme separation anxiety. Every morning, I had to park and walk (sometimes pull) him to his classroom. I stayed for 15 minutes or so to get him settled in and started on the first activity. I said my goodbyes and left, but his teacher had to physically hold him in the room. She assured me it wouldn’t last more than a week or two. Nine weeks later, we had finally gotten past it.

At right about that same time, God prompted us to start looking into farms again. We had always wanted to raise our children with wide open spaces and animals. We were currently living in a nice neighborhood, but the houses were so close together that Benjamin couldn’t throw a ball in any direction without hitting a window. Our neighbors were nice people, but few shared our values. Most seemed quite caught up in “the world” and accumulating all its trappings. Our neighbor across the street sent his wife back to work so they could get new cars every year and they had a television so big we could watch it from our house! We were looking for a simpler life where children played outside (instead of video games), everyone contributed to the success of the family, we could raise our own food, and entertainment was more wholesome and family-inclusive. God had just the right place in mind.

At the beginning of January, we moved to what we consider a glimpse of heaven. We enrolled Benjamin in the public school a couple of miles from us. It has a wonderful reputation. The principal is great, all the teachers I’ve met are professional and loving, and the school has performed well on the things the government thinks are important. He had a good second semester of K and learned quite a bit. His teacher was happy to have me volunteer for several hours a week and welcomed Rachel, too. We were very content.

The following fall, we were back for first grade. Benjamin had a very good teacher and I was volunteering again as much as she’d let me. Being a former teacher myself, I was able to free her up to do small reading groups and such. I noticed quickly, though, that there were about 5 boys in the class that were already real doozies in the first week. They weren’t just a little naughty or off-task- they pushed, poked, and took things from other kids. They refused to sit down. They did almost nothing she asked and were extremely disruptive. Even keeping the boys within hand’s reach hardly allowed her to teach. Most had been to the office several times and had serious talks with the principal.

At home, I was noticing a change in Benjamin’s behavior. He was becoming more oppositional. He started having temper tantrums like we hadn’t seen from him since he’d turned four. The only thing that was different was his new group of classmates. We were concerned.

The following week, I stayed for lunch a couple of days and ate with the students in the cafeteria. That was really eye-opening. There were plenty of adults supervising the kids, but their attention was on helping kids get through the line, opening milk cartons, and cleaning up spills. They couldn’t hear or monitor individual conversations at the tables.

The kids had to sit with their classes at long tables. I sat in the middle and could hear what was going on for several feet in each direction. I was absolutely appalled at the topics discussed by these 6 year old boys. They were comparing “bad words” they had learned on late night television and making gestures I hadn’t been exposed to until college! We had so carefully chosen how we wanted our son to be raised and what we wanted him to consider “acceptable behavior,” and I could see his innocence would be lost in the matter of 9 school months!

I tearfully approached Joe and said I didn’t see how we could leave him in the public school. My immediate thought was to pull him out and homeschool him, but Joe wanted to try other things first. He suggested I try to have Benjamin moved to another first grade class. The principal was sympathetic, but said she really didn’t think that would help since the boys in his class were not the only kids like that.

We looked into the local private Christian school. The tuition was reasonable, but it would strain our budget and may force me to work, at least part-time. We prayed for guidance and eventually both came to the conclusion that we should try homeschooling.




1. Entertained reader - September 1, 2007

I really don’t think that sheltering a child from quite normal (though inappropriate) exposure is a legit reason to homeschool. I understand your concern and desire to protect Benjamin, but the child will learn it one way or another (in my opinion if properly socialized).

2. Entertained reader - September 7, 2007

Oh, and as an addition, i’d like to say that children will hear and learn inappropriate words from their peers. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. Appropriate and acceptable are not synomynous. It is my opinion that it is the parents’ job to teach the child what is/is not acceptable.

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