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August 6, 2023

Read this before you Ask a Homeschooling Family how their Kids will Survive without “Real” School.

Many years ago my daughter was due to go off to school.

She was a chatty, bright, extremely attached, little lady. Something felt really wrong about sending such a small person off every day to a place where she would be told what she could and couldn’t do, when she could or couldn’t speak, when she could and couldn’t eat, a place where if she was tired she couldn’t nap or if she had had too much socialization she couldn’t have quiet time and her own space, a place where she would be treated less than equal.

I knew it would break her, and by a stroke of fate I received a job posting looking for a teacher for an outdoor forest school. I followed the thread back to the school that was being started by a like-minded father, and we spent two hours on the phone discussing our dreams and aspirations for our children and what we felt would be a wonderful education for them. Two weeks later she was enrolled in this brilliant program based in nature.

That was then; now I have two school-aged children and I’ve taken the schooling duty upon myself, and although our days aren’t always spent in nature, my goal is still the same—to honour my children’s right to learn what, when, and how they want.

The other day we were at our local health food store and I was speaking with a woman who worked there, also a mother. We got to talking and she asked why the kids weren’t in school, and I told her we homeschool. She fired off, “What happens when they’re supposed to go to high school, what will you do when they have to write tests or go to university, what about math, what happens when it gets hard, I can barely help my son and will have to get him a tutor.”

Well, first of all, my kids are nine and 12, and although time does fly, I’ve got a few years before I need to think about high school and university. But what really ticked me off was the math stuff. I don’t know about you, but I’ve retained and used, oh…I don’t know, maybe five percent of the math I had learned in school. I struggled all through school barely getting by with math, science, English (who am I kidding…mostly everything); I hated school. I hated spending time learning all this useless sh*t that bored the crap out of me. I hated dealing with all the bullsh*t that comes from social circles and the gossip and heartache.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m extremely grateful to live in a part of the world where we’re given free education and all, but nothing in school taught me how to have enough self-esteem to deal with my friend talking smack about me behind my back, or to tell my boyfriend to beat it as I wouldn’t stand for being cheated on. Nowhere did I learn to balance my cheque book or pay my bills. Yet, somehow, I managed to finish and go on to both college and university, after which the only math I’ve ever needed was addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, all of which I feel I’m pretty qualified to teach my kids.

It is with this great knowledge that I’ve never been in debt, I paid for all of my own schooling, bought my own cars, and helped my mother buy her first home. I’ve even gone on to work in accounting, sales, marketing, and manage multi-million dollar budgets all before I turned 30, and did so with the math retention of an elementary school kid.

I’m well spoken, although I drop the odd F-bomb, I can write a press release or an article, such as this one, but it’s not because of school. It’s because I’ve chosen to learn what I’m interested in, when I’ve been interested, and how I want to learn it. Learning doesn’t begin and end with school. Life is learning, every day, in so many more ways than sitting in a classroom.

I know a guy who has a shiny red Ferrari. You know what his license plate says? “GRADE 8.” Because that’s how far he got in school, and he didn’t come from money. He was motivated to take care of his family after his father died, so he busted his ass paving driveways and now he owns an extremely successful pool and landscaping company. Now I am certainly not saying owning a Ferrari is the only measure of success, but he’s not the only one who has turned out okay in spite of his lack of formal education.

So the next time you run into a homeschooling family and you ask them how on earth their kids will survive the so-called “real world” without “real” school, I challenge you to recall your own school experience and really take inventory of just how much it truly served you.


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