I’m not a religious fanatic. I’m not a rebel. I’m not “one of those parents.” I just wanted more for my children.
My daughter started out in public school. I sent her off to kindergarten in a little dress, with a lunchbox, and a bow in her hair, and I hoped that she’d love kindergarten as much as I had.
Her experience was nothing like mine. Every day, my five-year-old sat at a little desk most of the day and did worksheets and tried not to wiggle too much. Every day, she tried to sit quietly and not talk too much. And every day she sat through a “silent lunch” period before losing some or all of her 15-minute daily recess as a punishment for being too talkative in class.
Still, I sent her off to first grade when the time came. That was just what people did. The same thing happened. One day she even came home with a “demerit” for talking too much. She sobbed as she said, “I got a demerit today, Mommy, and I don’t know what that is, but it’s bad!”
And then she got an F in math. “I’m bad at math,” she told me forlornly. When I called to find out what the issue was, as I’d never been notified that she’d been struggling with math, I was told she understood the math just fine. The problem was she had missed a few assignments due to illness or vacation and the teacher didn’t find time to allow her to make them up, and wouldn’t send them home as she had to make sure my daughter was the one doing the assignment. Otherwise I might do it for her.
Furthermore, the kids were told to draw pictures illustrating how they had arrived at their solutions. My creative, artistic daughter would take her time, drawing elaborate pictures, and then she wouldn’t have time to do the other side of her worksheet, resulting in a “0.”
When she got home at nearly 4 PM, she had energy to burn. She wanted to play and do her own thing. But there was an hour’s worth of homework to be done, and we needed to have dinner, and it was a school night.
By the time she reached third grade, she had stress stomachaches nearly every day from feeling pressured about standardized testing. Whatever was to be on the test was all the class focused on.
Where was the love of learning? Where was the well-rounded education? Where was the chance to be a kid and play and create and imagine and to be an individual? I could literally see the spark going out of her, and I was just done. There had to be something more, something better.
I researched homeschooling day and night until I gathered enough confidence to take the plunge. And once I took it, I never looked back.
Today, my daughter is a 13-year-old seventh grader. She complains about math, but she enjoys social studies and science. She loves to write, and has a talent for it. She sings really well and takes voice and guitar lessons. She’s a green belt in judo, volunteers whenever the opportunity arises, and reads tons of books. She still loves art. I like to think her education is well-rounded.
And she’s got her spark back.
Nancy Gauvreau is a mom of four. She pulled her teenaged daughter out of school toward the end of third grade in March of 2009 and never looked back. Her youngest two have never been to school. She homeschools secularly in Pennsylvania and has never donned a denim jumper in her life, although she will admit to driving a minivan.