So it’s Thursday, August 14 in my world (have you figured out yet that I write this stuff at home and post it later at the library or other secret site?).
Ah, the first day of public school across the street from my house. I love getting up early and leaving my kids sound asleep so I can watch all the neighborhood kids walk to school while I drink my coffee. It makes me all emotional.
When Joel was just a baby, Mom told me that on his first day of kindergarten, she’d take me out to take my mind off of him starting school. Well, Mom, little did you know you planted the seeds of homeschooling in my little brain on that day.
I come from a family of teachers, and I was afraid everyone would FREAK OUT when I mumbled our intention to homeschool, but everyone has been so cool, at least to my face! I kind of worry when I see the principal looking at my house from across the street. But I know what I’m doing is not only legal, but that I’m actually giving my kids a darn good education.
A very cool woman we met in Phoenix couldn’t believe homeschooling was even legal. Oh, it’s legal, friends! Where I live you only have to be “competent” – quite the relative term – and do school for 187 days starting when the kid turns 7. You register with the state and they generally never contact you again.
In Arizona, a kid only has to be in school from ages 6 to 16, and actual instruction may be deferred till age 8, according to The Unofficial Guide to Homeschooling. It goes on to say that “there are no required teacher qualifications, testing or record keeping.” Check out this site to see the laws in your state.
Anyway, we don’t homeschool because we HATE public school or private school. It is true that all schools have their problems (including mine!). There are safety issues, that pesky No Child Left Behind debacle, apathetic teachers. And private schools cost a few thousand bucks per year.
So, we homeschool because I am cheap, because I love being around my kids, because I know I can do a better job with my kid than someone teaching 20-30 kids, because they enjoy it, because one of my kids is a conceptual-specific learner and one is an actual-routine learner, because we have family time at night instead of hours spent doing homework, because my husband travels and we like to see him occasionally, plus many other reasons.
I know you want to ask about the Social Issue, and it’s really a non-issue. My kids are practically over-socialized. They have friends from the public school, the Catholic school, the neighborhood, the several homeschool groups we are in. They are friends with the kids of my friends. They have cousins and second cousins their age they play with. We even babysit some older kids sometimes.
This morning I heard a mother excitedly tell the crossing guard, “The first day of school! It’s like Christmas Day for parents!” I respectfully disagree.