The number one question we get asked as a homeschooling family is "why?" Why did we choose to make the change from public school to homeschool? Why homeschool and not one of the other options available to us like a charter or private school? Why have we continued to homeschool our children even after moving to a new district? WHY homeschool?
I'm always able to come up with a quick answer that makes it seem easy, but truthfully, the answer is horribly complicated. Part of it is the flexibility in being able to travel when we want, see family when they're here, spend as much time together as a family as we can. Part of it is the schedule, not having to wake up early, not having to fight after homework, not having to nap because of it all, not having to run back and forth twice a day, not having to pack lunches, not having to stress over school uniforms and whether we conform or stick to our beliefs. Part of it is a lack of trust in the system, lack of agreement with policies and norms, lack of confidence in the education our children would receive and the type of environment they would spend so much time in.
But what is NOT a part of it is the teachers.
At no point did we say "the teachers are just not okay." Because, truthfully, we adored our daughter's (original) kindergarten teacher. And all of her friends parents loved who would have been her first grade teacher. And I have many, many, many friends who are elementary teachers whom I truly respect and value. Teachers who make a difference in the lives of their students every day.
But I also see these teachers struggle. I see them deal with too little resources, too much testing, too little time and too many rules. I see people who are passionate about teaching and reaching their students slowly fizzle out as their spirits are crushed by the pressure and restrictions placed on them. I see teachers who watch their students struggle and have their hands tied and can't always make the difference they set out to.
We pulled out of the public schools because of the system, not the people (we even adored the principal at our local elementary school who, with genuine excitement, wished us good luck on our homeschooling journey when we unenrolled). I truly believe the system is not only failing the students, but it's failing the teachers too.
So when I go on and on (and on and on and on) about why we choose to homeschool, I just want my teacher friends and readers to know: this is not about you. I know the hard work you put in to your job and the amazing people you are. I know how much teaching means to you and how passionate you are about doing your best for your students as you expect the same from them. But I also know how much you struggle within the system, just as we did as a family. I know how much you wish you had more control and say over what really happens in your classroom.
And teachers, I want you to know I will always support you and value the work you do. Just because I chose a different path for my children, doesn't mean you are valueless in my world. You are everything to this world because you're the ones who truly care and I can only hope that some day education will come back to you and teachers can once again focus on the just the students, whole-heartedly.