(Originally written in December 2005, tweaked slightly)
Before I tell you this LONG story I need to give you a picture of my son in the present. Patrick is 17. He is a wonderful son. He is mostly polite, respectful, smart, funny, helpful, and loving. He is serious about his faith and loves acolyting at church. He is a voracious reader (currently reading Anna Karenina) and loves politics, movies and sports.
I firmly believe that if he had stayed in school, things would be much different.
My daughter was finishing third grade and Patrick was finishing Kg when we began to consider homeschooling. We knew we were leaving the school that the kids were attending, and were looking at other options. Patrick had had a horrible experience in kindergarten, socially and academically. The happy, bright five-year-old that we had taken to school in September had become moody and withdrawn. He was teased because he sang too well, colored too badly, and couldn't match the sounds with the letters. He wasn't going to pass kindergarten.
We knew that he was smart because of his intuitive grasp of numbers and his incredible vocabulary. But there was no denying that in a school system that decreed that all children would read in first grade, he would be in trouble.
I looked at options, and the one that just kept popping back up was homeschooling. I finally decided that I would homeschool him for a year or so, to get him "evened out." Surprise number one: Our daughter--straight-A student and social butterfly--wanted to be homeschooled, too. Since I wasn't thrilled with any of the school options we had, we pulled her out, too.
I've chronicled our bad start in my last post, so I won't repeat that. But that truly was just the beginning. It was bad! Patrick was angry. He was mad at me for ever having taken him to school. And the more I heard what that year had been like for both of my kids the more I understood. So I embraced what was for me a brand new concept: We deschooled. We absolutely did nothing that looked like school for over six months. We, of course, kept living, and--as I've learned--that's how we learn best, but there were no workbooks, math problems, spelling words, or drills. We read lots of books, played games, went to the park, watched videos, and went for lots of walks.
I spent a lot of that time reading about how kids learn. I was especially interested by the differences in boys and girls in learning to read. I went from a reluctant homeschooler to a mom who firmly believed that our education system does many kids--especially boys--a huge disservice by trying to force early reading.
(More to come....)