In December, my husband and I went to see the documentary film Race to Nowhere. It started us on a journey we hadn't planned. The film critiques the American Educational system highlighting the effects of the tremendous pressure children are under, the limitations put on teachers to educate their students because of the test driven culture of schools and the inadequacies of the system to produce students who love learning and are creative thinkers and problem solvers. Race to Nowhere focuses primarily on the issues as they impact middle school and high school students.
While our children are younger, we could not help but fast forward a few years and imagine how our own would ultimately fare in this system. Especially our oldest who struggles with anxiety in general and needs down time to unwind after school. He has already come to the point where he says he hates school and he hates learning. He also claims to hate history and writing. This breaks my heart.
I have to interject at this point to say that we really do love our school. Our oldest just completed his fifth year there! It provides a solid and interesting education for the kids. The community of friends we have made there is an important part of our lives. The end of this school year was so sad. We are planning to keep the relationships the boys and I have made at the school strong with play dates and hopefully extra-curricular activities at school. We are not homeschooling because of any negative experience at school. We are homeschooling to experiment with a different educational experience for our children. If homeschooling does not work out for any reason, we hope to return to this wonderful school! O.k., back to the story...
A week or so after we had seen Race to Nowhere, a friend posted this video on her Facebook wall. I was fascinated. Sir Ken's words so resonated with me and the thoughts still tumbling around in my mind from Race to Nowhere. I watched every YouTube video of him I could find and started reading his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. In a nutshell, Sir Ken's passion is helping others find and develop their own passion and he critiques our educational system for being antiquated and squelching creativity.
With all this swirling around in my mind, I contacted the fifth grade teachers at our school, the grade our oldest would be in next year, and asked about the workload we should expect for next year. Our oldest is very bright and does very well in school but after talking with the teachers, I knew the homework and testing load for next year would overwhelm him and eat up the free time he needs.
My husband and I resuscitated an option we had considered and decided against twice before- homeschooling. We laid out our goals for our children's education and childhood and determined that we wanted their education to be engaging and interesting, inspiring inquisitiveness and a love of learning. We want them to have time to explore their interests, develop their creativity and discover their unique giftings and callings from God. Homeschooling seemed like a viable option to meet these educational goals for our children.
As I mentioned, we've been down this road before so I knew just who to go to for advice and encouragement. (Thank you Jen, Andrea, Layla, Deirdre and Dorothy!) God has been so faithful to guide us in this process. He has opened so many doors- a few that completely shocked me- and we are finally ready to take the final step through in faith. We have decided that we will homeschool our two boys next year and our daughter will go to Kindergarten at our wonderful school. Our boys will be in fifth and second grade next year. I figure we can do anything for a year and if things are working well, we will continue and if not, we will send the boys back to the school we have grown to love.
We'd love to have you follow along on Our Great Homeschool Experiement!