a child learns: the decision



I never planned to homeschool.  Really, the thought never crossed my mind.  I was schooled in public school, my husband was as well, and that's just what you have your kids, right?

One fall when I was getting into my role as mother to a toddler Caroline and her baby sister, Johanna, I received a phone call from my New York City sister that would change my life as a mother.

She had been reading a handful of homeschooling books.  General books, more specific books, how-to books, and so on.  She'd share what she was reading with me and I'd listen, although I didn't like the idea that she was exploring homeschooling.


She remembers my resistance to the idea, my concerns over "socialization" and who knows what else--the typical unresearched concerns people throw out at the idea of something so foreign as not public schooling.  I remember feeling a great deal of emotion because it wasn't what you do--homeschool--it was so, well, different.

The calls continued and I continued to hear her.  Little by little, the annoyed "hearing" of her turned into listening and soon the listening turned to genuine curiosity.  Could everything that she's sharing with me be true and possible and as magical as it sounds?  Could childhood be something more than the most formative years spent behind a desk?  Could these little children of mine see and feel the world with their hands rather than only seen through pictures in a textbook??  Could they actually explore what they love and what they're good at not because it's on a test but because their curious??  I wondered...

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern
 methods of instruction have not yet entirely
strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry;
for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, 
stands mainly in need of freedom. 

--Albert Einstein

I began to read these books.  Books on socialization, how-to books, books that opened my eyes to how children really learn.  And I began to talk to my husband.  He heard me and quickly shot down the idea based on the exact, predictable reasons I once threw out.  I kept talking.  He resisted.  I kept talking, reading a chapter here and a chapter there.  And little by little, he began to let his stereotypical-homeschooling wall down and actually began to listen.  

With time, we took one grand faith-filled step forward and decided to seriously look into homeschooling.  We researched and read books together and looked for all of the answers we needed for ourselves, for our families, and those that we knew would resist our possible choice for the precise reasons we did.

Any child who can spend an hour or two a day, or more if he wants, 
with adults that he likes,
 who are interested in the world and like to talk about it, 
will on most days learn far 
more from their talk than he would learn in a week of school. 

--John Holt

This was our beginning, probably quite similar to many other parents.  A seed was planted and with more knowledge and discovery, a better way was revealed, the seed began to grow, and there was no way to deny it or turn back.

What attracted us most was the different childhood we could give our children from our own.  Yes, we had great family lives growing up, strong families and core values taught at home.  But it was the 12 years spent in a classroom part that we began to analyze from our own experiences.  What did we really learn in that classroom for eight hours a day of our young lives?  And more importantly, who did we really become from the experience?  


Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know,
 about something you do not want to know.
- G K Chesterton


I don't remember very much of the day to day instruction of those many years.  Some things stand out, but they were the things I was interested in.  Many of my passions for life would come after school in college when I could choose my classes and major.  It was the same for Bobby.  His love of reading didn't come until then.  As we observed our experiences growing up we saw the possibility for our children to hold on to their love of learning, that love real, innate love that is is within every child.  That love that I've watched over and over again in other children that sadly begins to wither with the onset of "schooling" in their young life.

The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any school of education 
I ever heard of,
 can be expressed in seven words: Learning is not the product of teaching. 
Learning is the product of the activity of learners.

~John Holt

And this is precisely where our journey began.  With hope for something better than what we had being schooled.  With the thrill for something more.  And the possibility for a real-life adventure we could give our children unlike anything we had ever experienced.

(For inspiring homeschooling reads, see my FAQ page.  To be updated soon with more recent reads.)

Part of a series, A Child Learns.

the sleepy time gal