At Home, In the World

When we made the decision to take our older two children out of public school, my husband and I felt it was the only real choice we had. After years in a successful public Montessori program, their current public school was getting the best of them. They kept their discoveries to themselves (and these discoveries happened out of sight), and they invariably came home tired, hungry, and unsatisfied.

My son Charles, 12, is an avid reader who enjoys music and dance. But school seemed to interfere with his real learning. Instead of actively engaging him, it was just something he had to cope with. My daughter, Helen, 9, enjoyed her friends at school but when it came to learning it seemed that she was mainly just killing time. Or worse. (When a broken and desperate Washington, D.C. school system felt the pressure to improve student test scores, my daughter found herself in a windowless classroom memorizing the 20s times tables. This did not help her learn anything, least of all math.)

Our twin 6-year-old girls were doing fine in their D.C. Montessori program, but in the case of our two older children, we felt intervention was necessary.

Home schooling was a big step for us. I had never taken on such an important task. I quickly discovered that I would be more of an "unschooler," since my children—like all children, I believe—have a strong desire to learn and do not necessarily need a school curriculum to do it. We decided not to replace schoolwork with home-school work, although we did develop some regular structures for learning. Several other home-schooling families join us at different times for weekly math lessons, units on geography, a writing class, and a reading discussion group.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1998
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