After their four sons graduated from public school in small-town Connecticut, Ray and Kathleen were happy with the education they had received. Ranging in age from 21-29, all had done well and gone out into the workforce. However, last year, Kathleen noticed that her other child, 10 year-old daughter Julia, was in a curriculum that was sorely lacking.
“Our schools were almost like private schools when my oldest boys attended,” said Kathleen, “Over time things have changed. I was really disappointed by my daughter’s curriculum last year. I researched curriculum this summer and realized how much she is NOT learning. Thus, the homeschool decision.” When she compared her sons’ curriculum to Julia’s, the difference was staggering. “I realized Julia has has very little instruction in science, history, geography and writing when compared to my boys education in our school system,” she said, “As an example, my boys learned all about the 50 states, capitals, etc.. In 3rd grade. At the end of her 4th grade class, they only learned the counties of our state.”
After considering homeschool for a year, Kathleen was reluctant, worried about the social aspect. Attending arts school 14 hours a week, however, Julia spends a lot of time with kids who have similar interests, many of whom are homeschooled. They decided to give it a try with a practice homeschool week in July, and Julia made the decision to be homeschooled. Kathleen had been volunteering in classrooms for 24 years, including teaching a volunteer art appreciation class, so she felt ready to make the leap as well.
There is so much curriculum available to homeschoolers that it is hard to choose. “I may want to do too much,” Kathleen said, “We will figure it out as we go.” The family also knows that they have options, and are willing to try others if homeschooling isn’t the right fit for them. “We have pledged to homeschool for this year,” she said, “We will see where we go after that. The Catholic diocese in Connecticut took money and signed on to Common Core. I would consider Waldorf in the future.”
For now, though, the family is excited about this new adventure. Her sons had questions about it, but are on board, and might even help teach some of the units. As for Kathleen, she’s already seen a change in Julia. “Through the past few months of discussing homeschooling with my 10 year old daughter and then actually deciding to do it,” she said, “I have seen an amazing transformation in her mindset. She is now engaged in her own learning and is coming up with amazing ideas about what and how she wants to learn.”
That just goes to show that, when kids are in the right environment for them, learning doesn’t have to be a chore. Which is why school choice and robust homeschool opportunities are so important- every child is different, and there should be educational opportunities to reflect those differences. For all of them.