Any time I'm asked this question, I'm reminded of the experience I had when I looked into putting my oldest into Kindergarten. Homeschooling was something I'd always wanted to do, and I'd done a formal preschool program with my oldest at home. But we'd moved to a new town (with considerably better schools than the one we had been zoned for previously) and I thought I'd check it out.
It was August, so the school was open but not yet in session. I went into the office and told the woman I had a child I was considering putting in Kindergarten.
"Great," she said, and handed me a packet of paperwork to fill out.
"Oh, I haven't made my decision yet. Could I get a tour of the school?"
She looked at me like I'd asked her to pull broccoli out of her ear.
"Um, we don't really do school tours. I guess you could walk around if you wanted to..."
"Well, could I meet the Kindergarten teacher? Can you tell me about the curriculum you use?"
I can't remember what else I asked her, but the response was the same with each question. I could only see the room after she was registered. I was not allowed to meet the teacher until 'Parents Night' the week before school started (after she was registered). I could not see or hear about the curriculum, talk to anyone about educational philosophy, or meet with the Principal unless she was already registered.
I was supposed to give my firstborn child to perfect strangers to be instructed for 30 hours each week, and I wasn't even permitted to meet them first.
What really astonished me, however, was the response I received when I told people about my experience. Several people were surprised I had even asked about the school before signing up. None of the parents I talked to had done the same. I was expected to simply hand over my 5 year old to the school without question, and folks thought I was strange, or even wrong, not to.
That point of view doesn't make any sense to me, especially since none of those parents would do the same with their 3 year olds. Can you imagine, on finding you need a daycare provider, that you would simply flip open the phone book, select one, and drop your child off the next day without ever meeting the provider? Of course not.
I was a daycare provider for a few years, and most of my parents had both a phone conversation and a personal meeting with me before they brought their children. They wanted to see my First Aid certification and the home their kids would be staying in. Why should we change our expectations for public schools? What is wrong with us?
Our children have been given to us to raise, and we must take care in doing so. Everything we do for them should be done with care and consideration. I'm not against public school as an option, and I don't think homeschooling is for everyone. I do think that whatever decision you make for your child's education should be made after a great deal of prayer, research and consideration.
And so we started praying, researching and considering. And our journey led us to homeschooling...
Read more in part 2