‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Monday, December 22, 2008

To Answer Your Question:

Yes, I took my daughter out of school. Three times actually.

The first two times I was too scared to really follow through with homeschooling for good. Too many people I cared about hated the idea. Too many people had far too many negative things to say about it. And so I caved. I sent her back. The second time was no better. I knew my daughter was in her own private hell, and yet I sent her back and coerced her every which way to stay. It was not until she was literally hurting herself that I realized what a mistake it was to return. This third time was our mutual and definitive choice. She would not be going back.

I'd like to tell you the thousand reasons why this choice works for us. I'd like to share the magic of our decision with you. It has been nothing short of life-changing for both of us. But, I'm not ready to pour my heart out again. I'm not ready to be criticized and questioned about our choice again -- at least not yet. I'm getting stronger, but the questions and criticisms play right into my fear of being a bad mom. I so want the very best for my girl, and I don't appreciate the feigned concern of others for her welfare. It puts me on the defensive when I'm not ready to fight. I'm too busy living and learning with her. I'm too busy watching her spread her wings.

So for now, I ask you to go read this amazing post. It's from an unschooling mom who already found her footing, and she speaks it oh so well. Her post is my answer to why I homeschool my daughter. I may not have climbed a literal mountain with my girl yet, but we've had those same kinds of days..lots of them... and she is learning so much more than she did in the prison of a classroom.

And yes, it may seem a strange choice when I'm a teacher myself --an educator, though I hate both of those misnomers. I would rather be called a door-opener or a light-shiner or a wisdom-sharer. I don't believe one can really teach, per se. But that is the name the world gives what I do, and I have to use it in the same way one uses foreign currency - needfully, but also cautiously and uncomfortably.

I do not have to rationalize for myself why I walk into classrooms every day when I see them as prisons. I love sharing what I've learned with children, and the children are, for the most part, in schools. So I go there. But I do not play by the same set of rules. I'm lucky that way. As an "artist-in residence" I am allowed to change things up, turn lessons upside down, move desks to the side, sit on the floor, run and jump and laugh loudly -- get kids reciting Shakespeare while standing atop a desk, or held in the air by a few friends, singing, rhyming, blurting out words that taste new in their mouths. Of course I'd rather be doing this outdoors under the trees or while hiking up a mountain or skating a pond -- but at least I give them a little break from their monotony. A little taste of the magic of learning.

Anyway, I could write pages on this subject. It is what I'm most passionate about. Someday, after my daughter is grown and I have the time, I will devote my life to education reform. For now, I work to reform one class at a time, one school at a time. And then, each day, I come home to my daughter and we head to our classroom of woodland paths or beaches, museums or libraries and even, sometimes, foreign countries. A much better way to live.


  1. Anonymous1:51 AM

    I wish it wasn't like that. I wish you could share your views without being criticized by people who have no clue.

    I pulled 4 of my kids out of school. The four with RAD. I've been told to put them back in school because the school will need to pay for the help they need.

    Yeah right, I pulled them out because when I went to the school for help, the principal told me that I could be making all this up. All the RAD symptoms. The stealing of food and belongings of other children. The fights, etc... I made it up.

    Because there are so many of them, I struggle about whether to send them back. My husband and I get no breaks from them and I hear that's why we are possibly going insane :-) But I don't think sending them back is the answer.

    I will go read the post you linked. But it is a struggle. I believe I know what you are talking about with the classroom. There is a poem I posted on my blog called "May your sky always be yellow". That's how I feel about the classroom. I don't believe it's the fault of the teacher either. I know many of them have their hands tied.

  2. I am so sorry that people have critized you for making the necessary choices for your daughter. We, too, have lived with that and it stings. Especially coming from people that, at one time, I respected greatly. Yet, they don't live with my child and know her needs and I do. I try not to listen to the critics but it's hard. Then I look back and see how much further she has come since I removed her from public school and a nice, quiet, knowing smile spreads across my face.

    It's worth it.

    I am constantly amazed at your journey.
    Oh and on your comment....how I wish that you and I and Torina could have a night out!!! 3 hippy chicks = lots of fun!!!!

  3. Anonymous8:55 AM

    Great post! I wish you all the strength, courage and confidence you deserve in creating a meaningful and wonderful life for your daughter to experience!

  4. I think that you are an excellent mom, taking your daughter's individual needs into consideration. Traditional school does not work for everyone, and in fact, people who insist all kids should be in the kind of setting may be setting many students up to fail.

    I think you're doing an awesome job.

  5. The only thing that school is really good for with Tara is that I get a break. Even the good school really doesn't benefit her tremendously. BUT, she isn't getting hurt and hurting others and making allegations in this school. Most schools, from the sounds of it, are very similar to the first one we sent her to: HORRIBLE (Sasha, I'm sorry if I ever made you feel like you made a poor choice, I really admire homeschoolers). If I didn't find another school that kept her and the other kids safe (from her), I would be homeschooling now, too. Actually, honestly, I still think about how I could manage to do it...Do you know that your blog is snowing?? How do you do that? It is very trippy and makes me feel slightly crazy. At least crazier than how I normally feel.

  6. Torina..lol...yup, I know it's snowing on my blog today. I saw it on another blog and found out how to add it. I just googled "snow effect" and added the code to the "add gadget" part of the layout, It's only going to be up till Christmas...sorry it made you feel trippy! I hope that was a "good" trippy!

  7. I just read that post you linked to (sorry I am ending in a preposition but according to my lovely mentally incompetent English Professor/Graduate advisor it is perfectly fine to end a sentence in "to"...sorry had to get that off my chest). Still snowing!!







    That post was great. Very inspiring. For the last few months, my husband and I have been discussing one of us staying home with Tara and homeschooling or partially schooling her (she would do half days at school for sanity's sake). After one day of total one on one with her (she was sick), he said "NEVER!" and so now it is up to me to figure out how I can do it and we can still afford to pay for health insurance cause I can't work and do it.

    How do you do that part of it? Work and homeschool her? Just curious.

  8. I just love you! I am Afcharka from FRUA and you have always been my inspiration. I found you when we started in 2005 and am glad to have found your blog. Thanks for sharing. I am CHEERING you all the way. You are brave and courageous, strong and beautiful and you fight for her everyday. THAT is what it is all about!

  9. I just love your blog! I have been a "fan" from FRUA since we started our process in 2005. You are an inspiration! You are brave and courageous, strong and beautiful. And you fight for your daughter every single day. THAT is what it is all about!!!

  10. Afcharka, I'm blushing!!!! I had to post both of your comments, even though one is likely an edit of the other, but they made me so happy, I posted both as a Christmas present to me...lol!
    And Torina, I get the "never" part. I could NOT have homeschooled Anastasia the first year. It would have killed me. I was NOT ready. I was overwhelmed and scared and needing a BREAK. So I understand that sentiment of your husband's all too well. Also, if I had more than one at home I'm not sure if I could do it. And as to HOW we do it, we adapt our learning time to my work time: meaning, if I'm working mornings, she sleeps late, and if I'm working afternoons, she gets to either come with me, go to the neighbors or, sometimes, stay and watch a movie and knit. most schools I work at are VERY close by
    (meaning not even a mile away.) The furthest away I ever am these days is 6 miles. In the summer, she is with me. Our schedule changes EVERY month, but it works for us.

  11. ooh, and Candy cook, thank you! I just went to your blog and LOVE it! Can't wait to read read read!!!

  12. I go back and forth on this one for us...glad you found the right answer for you.

  13. YUP.. I discovered it was prison for my boy too. It was a very scary process for me. I've never known anything outside of public education and college. But it was the right choice for him. It took a while for me to be sure of that, but I know now. :) I wish I could have learned this way.. lots more fun!

  14. I just want to say I am homeschooled (well distant learning) because I hate school.. I am now in 9th grade, 8th grade was my first year and I am now a straight A student. I was when I was in elementary school but when middle school came it all went away. I constantly get issues from my family about it. Everytime I see them I get the "are you going back soon?" "its good for socialization" "you wont be able to go to college" Um hello, I am getting a diploma! And the worst was recently when my aunt told my mom I was going to need serious therapy for being "reculsive" for not wanting to go to school. And also that I was "more messed up than anyone she knows" So we have had the same issues you've had, and my mom doubted herself too. But I love distant learning! And shall keep doing it!!!


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