And then there's Donovan, who is finishing up his kindergarten year at his montessori school and will be ready to go into first grade in the fall. For reasons that are way beyond the scope of this blog post, Zach and I are both very hesitant to put our kids into traditional public school. The simplest way to put it is that I am certain they would both do "fine" in public school, but it would be in spite of the system rather than because of it. There are some montessori (private) elementary schools in the area, but between location and cost they are just not a feasible option, at least not yet.
And then we started tossing around the "h-word." Could we really? Could we try homeschooling? The idea absolutely terrified me at first. But the more I researched this option and the more I talked to friends and acquaintances who are either currently homeschooling or have done it in the past, the more drawn I felt to it. So as of now we are planning to homeschool Donovan for first grade, and we'll just see how it goes. I still have a lot to figure out, like more of the specifics on California regulations, looking for homeschooling groups or coops to try to join, and deciding how exactly we will do this. Right now I am really intrigued by the unstructured, child-led unschooling-type models. They meld well with my montessori inclinations, and I think would also work well for D. I am currently reading John Holt's Learning All The Time and really getting a lot out of it.
Part of me feels really good and excited about this choice. I love thinking about the freedom and flexibility it will give us as a family, and getting to spend so much more time with D. I love the moments when he asks interesting questions and we get to talk about the elements or Mars or whatever else-- it is so exciting and joyful to get to explore topics together and learn with him. Then there is the part of me that feels like I have completely lost my mind to even consider homeschooling. I mean, it can feel like a pretty a scary and overwhelming endeavor.
An acquaintance recommended I look into project-based homeschooling, so the other day I found the PBH website and blog and found this treasure trove of great content on a variety of topics (I love her take on screentime and the way it is pitted against reading and playing outdoors as if these activities are mutually exclusive) but among all this greatness was a post titled "Should I Homeschool?"which I have
What’s the worst thing that can happen? The negatives outweigh the positives, you decide it’s not a good fit for you and/or your child(ren). You tried it; it wasn’t for you. What did it cost? A year of your life? Any parent with a child in public school can tell you about a “wasted” year with a teacher who was either a bad fit for their child or just bad in general. Don’t be afraid of making a bold choice because it might not succeed. Don’t worry about what other people will think.And the kicker (emphasis my own, and I really wanna print that quote out and display it prominently for my own benefit):
But I am completely sure that you are capable of homeschooling if that’s what you want to do — not that it will be completely easy from the get-go, but that you will be able to handle whatever comes along. Whatever you decide to do, it doesn’t make you one whit less smart or loving or involved. But do I think you’re nuts? No. Any time someone is really working hard at getting their best authentic life, I most decidedly do not think they are nuts.Zach and I have tried to be very purposeful in how we craft our lives and the decisions we make for ourselves and our family. We have not always taken the easiest path or the common path, but thankfully we have always had a lot of support in making our sometimes-unpopular decisions. I also acknowledge how lucky we have been along the way to have the freedom and ability to make those choices for ourselves, including this one. So here's to a new adventure... we'll see how it goes.