Last January, after being relegated to virtual learning for a year and a half, my daughter asked if she could just switch to homeschool. My immediate response was “no.” Well, she is now preparing for her sixth month as a homeschooled student, and she could not be happier.
To say this was a long journey is an understatement. My daughter has been in a public school since she was about two weeks old. I regularly volunteered in their older sibling’s classrooms. I would strap her in the Baby Bjorn and off we went to read, tutor, or assist in the classroom anyway we could.
Once she started kindergarten, I resumed my calling as a teacher through substitute teaching. Her elementary school was our second home and we loved it. She was a prolific reader just like her brothers and an “old soul” due to her birth order. School came easy and conversation came even easier.
In third grade, she discovered a love of percussion thanks to her wonderful music teachers. She decided then that she would attend the middle school that would best prepare her for The Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS)/Manual High School, a highly competitive school in our city. Everything went as planned until we realized her middle school curriculum was a joke and the quality of education was abysmal. I told her that if she wanted to be prepared for the rigor of YPAS/Manual, she better challenge herself at home. She did just that.
Audition time came. She perfected her piece until she had blisters. Word came that she was accepted for the following year. Finally, she had something to look forward to (the social scene at her middle school was on par with the curriculum). Just a few weeks later, the world came to a grinding halt. None of us were sad that her days at that particular school were over and we were cautiously optimistic about her high school opportunity. By September, 2020 we were beyond disappointed.
Our district is not known for its overwhelming success but the school my daughter was attending was known to be the top high school in the state and she was in advanced classes. Imagine my dismay when they did not read a single book the first semester in English. Instead, they were given a packet of excerpts that largely focused on social justice issues. Class discussions centered on social justice issues as well. After discussing “internalized misogyny”, the gender wage gap, and why her teacher decided to remove the word “freshman” from her vocabulary (my daughter wrote her an email detailing the etymology of the word), we were beyond frustrated. My daughter was eager to learn and was tired of hearing and discussing politics. There seemed to be no escape.
Fast forward to January. She’d had enough. She was tired of being the only one in her (virtual) classes who thought differently than the teachers. She was tired of “busy work” with no real purpose. She was tired of sitting in front of a screen for thirty-minute classes pretending to care. She wanted out. It took me until February (and an undeniable demonstration of our board’s lack of leadership) to come around. She finished out the year but started her homeschool program that spring.
Initially, it was every day, now it’s more like once a week where we say how thankful we are that she is homeschooling. She reflects on her time in middle school as an opportunity to grow and learn even if she did not like much except band class. As her parent, I wish I could go back in time and homeschool her from 6th grade on, but then she might not be the amazingly confident and independent young lady she is today. Regardless, her future is bright and I can (surprisingly) say I am thrilled to be the mother of a homeschool student.