Not Back To School: the short answer


We’re celebrating Not Back To School month at Nothing By The Book in September. Not buying school supplies. Not packing lunches. Not hurrying out the door by 8:17 every morning to catch the 8:24 bus…

It’ll be six years this year since Cinder didn’t go to kindergarten. It’s been a pretty awesome learning and life adventure. Throughout which I’ve gotten a great deal of experience in crafting different answers to the “But why on earth do you homeschool?” question.

I think I’ve got it down pat now, and it’s pretty short and sweet. But it sort of has three versions. Because, well, life’s complicated, even when it’s simple.

Version 1: Why did you start to homeschool?

Answer: Because at age five, Cinder wasn’t interested in learning what sounds letters made or how you put words together. Didn’t want to glue pasta to cardboard and sprinkle it with sparkles (still doesn’t; see Why Cinder doesn’t do crafts on Nothing By The Book Days. Could not bear to be within four walls for two hours altogether. Desperately needed to be outside, running, climbing, exploring.

That’s pretty much it.

Version 2: Why do you homeschool now?

Answer: Because it works for us. Because it means Cinder can follow his own asynchronous timetable—he’s 10, and reading is just now starting to fall into place for him, and slowly… but I bet he could pass a Physics 30 diploma exam, provided he could take it orally. Because it means Flora, who learned to read at three, was able to spend kindergarten, grade one and grade two drawing, drawing, and drawing, instead of filling out worksheets. Because it means freedom: freedom to travel mid-year and mid-week, freedom to sleep in and freedom to work and play late, freedom to create our own family and life rhythm. (Confession: The longer we homeschool, the more I suspect a defining reason behind the decision is my unabated hatred of early, rushed mornings… That’s certainly one of the reasons I freelance, instead of rolling into an office, bleary-eyed and de-caffeinated, at the crack of 9:25…)

(Sidenote: freedom doesn’t mean lack of discipline and structure. But that’s the topic for another post…)

Version 3: But, seriously, why do you homeschool?

Answer: Because we can.

English: Motivations regarded most important f...

English: Motivations regarded most important for homeschooling among parents in 2007. Source: 1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007 Issue Brief from Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. December 2008. NCES 2009–030 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So. Welcome, September. The pools, parks, libraries and museums will be empty mid-week again. Stores stocked with school supplies will be humming, but we won’t be there. We’ll still be at the pools and parks, enjoying the beautiful fall days. And ridiculously, ridiculously grateful that this is what we can do.

June Lake is a small town south of Lee Vining,...

Note: Nothing By The Book isn’t a homeschooling/unschooling advocacy blog: our learning choices are just part of our life and most of my posts and stories simply take that particular life choice for granted—it’s part of the context and background, but I don’t expound on it too much. If you’re in research mode for homeschool-focused type of stuff, you might want to visit our other blog, Nothing By The Book Days. I keep that blog primarily as a daily record of what we do, to help me track activities and projects, but it also has a growing collection of resources, including a new Homeschooling in Calgary page and, perhaps most usefully, a collection of all of Cinder and Flora’s learning plans and progress reports, as submitted to our school board over the years.

3 thoughts on “Not Back To School: the short answer

  1. Those answers sound so much like my own answers. I was starting to feel a lot of pressure from my family because I was “slacking on homeschooling” when I had my last baby. It wasn’t that I’d stopped homeschooling. I just stopped trying to force my daughter to do things she didn’t want to do. I don’t have a problem with my daughter not really reading at age 9, but a LOT of people in our lives keep reminding me I’m a failure because of it. I’m not doing enough homeschooling with her. At the same time she knows more about Michelangelo, Leonardo deVinci, Picasso, and many other artists than most adults. She’s learning to do counted cross-stitch, something most adults I know have never even thought to try. Best of all, she’s studied philosophy and loves it. She knows more about the subject than I do, I think! Okay, maybe not the big names I know, but still. What’s wrong with that?

    I’ll have to keep your words in mind next time I’m asked why we homeschool and why we still do it. It’s so much more brief and clear than my own answers to the same question!

    • When we were expecting our third, I had people say several times too, “Of course, *now* you’ll put them in school.” And I would respond with, “Because… it will be easier for me to get two kids and a newborn out the door by 8:15 a.m. every morning no matter what sort of night the baby’s had?”

      I love the phrase “slacking on homeschooling.” Write a post with that title before I beat you to it… 🙂

      • Yeah, when we were expecting our fourth I got the same thing. I kept thinking “So I can have two school kids, a toddler, and a newborn out the door to be to school by 7:30 every morning…right… You’re funny.”

        You’re right, I should totally write a post with that title! That’s now on the list for this morning! Not that I have much of a list. Actually, I think that’s the only thing on the list!

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