Deciding to homeschool
Parents who homeschool their kids do so for a variety of reasons. Some do it for religious reasons, wanting to guide their children along a spiritual path alongside their educational one. Others do it because they feel the education received via the traditional school system is lacking in some way. Some do it because their child has special needs and others because they know they can leverage their child's learning time more efficiently than a school ever could, giving their child more time to be, well, a child.
My wife and I recently decided to homeschool our son because of bullying issues at school. In another hub, I discuss tips to stop bullying. That hub was written in response to my son's situation at school and was an effort to compile a list to help out others in similar situations. Unfortunately, my wife and I have come to the conclusion that his situation will get worse before it gets better. Since we have the means and ability to homeschool him, we'd rather do that than risk him getting seriously hurt or even more depressed about the situation than he already is.
I must admit, it almost feels like we're running away from the problem. While we did talk to the assistant principal in charge of bullying at the school and made our problems and desires known, I'm not sure we pressed the issue as much as we could have. We could have let our son go to school scared every day, waiting for something to happen, and then dutifully report each incident, raising a bigger and bigger fuss about each successive abuse. Ultimately, I don't think it would have made a difference. The assistant principal's concern was more to "get to the bottom of the enmity between" my son and his attacker than to protect my son.
The last straw was when the bully had my son on the floor kicking him in the back while other kids stood around watching. To their credit, some of the other kids accurately reported what happened to a teacher, leading to a 3-day suspension of the bully. The day after the incident, my son was already being threatened by friends of the bully for what he (my son) had done to the bully! I suppose maybe my son shouldn't have screamed so loud; maybe then the teacher wouldn't have heard him and the bully wouldn't have gotten in trouble.
There are too many stories of young people killing themselves after being bullied, and in many of these cases the schools have failed these kids by ignoring the problem. Granted, many of these recent cases have involved gay children, and I don't have any reason to suspect that my son is gay, but incessant bullying is incessant bullying, no matter what the bully's words are and no matter what the sexual orientation of the victim is. My wife and I have decided that safe is better than sorry and so we're going to pull him out of the situation to ensure his safety.
I was really surprised how many resources are available to parents who homeschool their children. Until I started looking into it, I guess I'd assumed that the parents were responsible for coming up with the entire curriculum. Imagine my surprise when I discovered several online curriculum suppliers with affordable rates and a wealth of great reviews from parents who'd been using them for years! And of course there are lots of support groups, both online and in our area, ready to lend a hand or just be someone to talk to. With these tools at our disposal to guide us, and our ideas for providing supplemental educational experiences for our son, I think he'll be in better hands than he would have been through the public school system.
The message I'd like to share with everyone is this: If your child is being bullied, do not ignore the problem. By all means follow the tips I listed in my other hub, but if you feel like your child's safety is in jeopardy, please do whatever it takes to rectify the situation. I understand that not every family can make the choice we have, but if your child is in a similar situation and you think homeschooling might work for you, I'd encourage you to look into it. Some people might say we're overreacting and that we should have given the school more chances to solve the problem. That might even be true, but we are not prepared to gamble with our son's life or well-being. My wife and I are determined that our son will not be just another statistic, not just another picture of lost hope and potential on the cover of People magazine.
I've already learned a lot about the homeschool experience, and my education on the subject is just beginning. Look for more hubs in the near future where I document our experience as well as share tips and tricks for people new to or thinking about homeschooling. Feel free to leave a comment about your experiences; I'd love to hear some.