By Denny Mather
We had sent Vincent to the public school in Sumtown, Montana, only a few weeks before we decided to home school him. It was something I had never considered (though my one friend in California who did it was rather nutty) but after a few weeks of misery Dale and Vincent and I could take no more. So, we checked out of the public school system and got into home schooling – or free schooling, or whatever you want to call it.
I come from a large family, two sisters and three brothers, plus, of course Mom and Dad. We are lucky; we all get along well together. I think I e-mailed all of them to let them know that we were going to teach Vinnie at home. They all offered to help. Assigning and then grading essays and recommending books were just a few of the things they helped me with. Everyone was very positive to me but I did hear rumors that some people weren’t real thrilled with the idea.
So, no holds barred, I recently asked them all to tell me what they really thought when I announced that I was home schooling Vincent. And what they think of it now…
I am paraphrasing some of their answers.
Mom and Dad both thought it was a good idea, especially 6th through 8th grade. They knew I could keep up with any materials I was supposed to teach but were shocked when they found out I wasn’t even given a list of subjects to teach. They also worried that it would take up too much of my time. They worried as well that Vincent would have no friends. (All valid worries, I’ve covered them in other columns)
Vincent passed his GED with flying colors. Mom and Dad sent us both a card congratulating us. Mom is upset with the public school system. Not only are her grand children getting short changed but several of her kids who are teachers are totally frustrated by what is going on.
My older brother was worried because:
- It would take up so much of my time.
- Vincent wouldn’t have friends.
- He would not learn how to get along with people.
- He would not learn the” tricks of the trade,” i.e. how to take standardized tests and academic routines that lead to later success in college and white collar life.
Now he says that it sure worked out well and thinks Vincent is a kind, compassionate young man. He’s hard working and knowledgeable and is very imaginative and fun to be with.
My sister in law was excited for us. She thought it was a great idea and was happy to assist in any way possible. Her book recommendations were age appropriate and fun to read.
My older sister thought it was cool. She assumed it would be difficult but felt that Vince would have a lot more diversity being educated at home. She travels to many foreign countries and sent great post cards and emails from many of them.
My younger sister is a teacher in a high school in New Mexico. She was in favor of us home schooling as she sees what goes on every day in the public system and is really frustrated by what she may or may not do in her class room. (Recently she had to back down when a student complained to her parents that Mrs. A was grading too harshly… (The principle took the students part.) Mrs. A is the one who gave me ideas for essays and graded many of them for me.
My younger brother was worried about the time I would have to spend preparing for classes. (His son spent his senior year at home, with assistance from the state of CA,teaching himself enough to graduate.) My brother said he knew I could do it but he was upset that we had to.
My youngest brother said he thought I was crazy. “But! Ya done good!” he now says.
The people who really gave me grief about home schooling were the ones associated with the college here. People I didn’t even know would ask me what I thought I was doing! Their children had made it through the school system and were just fine...
I know that many people don’t agree with the whole idea of home schooling. I’ve voiced my opinions on some misconceptions people have. It IS hard work and does take a lot of time.
The home schooling group we wound up with in Sumtown have some of the most polite, well behaved and knowledgeable children around. I am proud that we did it!