We're taking the plunge this year and homeschooling everybody.
This is not an easy decision. I say "is" rather than "was" because it is a decision I'm going to have to make every single day, and it is not one we make lightly. It may change in the future, because it might just be too hard, but for now, this is the plan.
I've thought a lot lately about what I want for my kids while they are in school and learning how to become happy, functioning adults.
And it boils down to a few basic things:
I want them to be able to think deeply.
I want them to be able to create without fear of failure (not that they can't fail, but that they don't fear failure).
I want them to see the world as a place of opportunity, and that they have the opportunity to make a difference in that world.
The schools in our area just aren't cutting it. My fourth-grader (who likes school just fine) finished school last year and collapsed. I don't mean collapsed from weariness—school's not all that hard for him—but collapsed mentally, collapsed creatively. Calvin's always been one of my most creative kids, and the only thing he could do for weeks was wander the house reading random books that fell into his path. He could hardly pick up some LEGOs and build anything, let alone write, play, draw, imagine, create.
Then we went on vacation and he had basically no structured time, no rules, no technology, nothing but his brain, his hands, and whatever materials lay around. He went nuts, building, imagining, creating. Now we're back home, and he's back to his old self. He and his brother created a newspaper yesterday just for fun. One of the columns said:
Home News!!! A package just arrived from Baba (my mom). What's inside? Stay tuned for our next edition.
This may seem like common fare to you, but this is precisely what he wasn't doing all year long and after school got out. And now that he's out of an environment where there are only right or wrong answers, where you can only collaborate with explicit permission, where you can't even do a cartwheel on the playground because it might be dangerous, he's creating again.
I've had to ask myself, do I care if my children can answer four multiple-choice questions correctly after reading a random passage about butterflies they will never look at again?
Do I want them to be able to innovate? Do I want them to think outside the box? Do I want them to learn how to comprehend, communicate, create, and calculate? Do I want them to be able to write????
I've read several books lately that have helped me down this road. I wanted to share them. They will help you parent innovators regardless of your choices for school.
(CREATING INNOVATORS by Tony Wagner)
THE ART OF TINKERING
DESIGN, MAKE, PLAY: GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF STEM INNOVATORS