Why homeschool?

The question often asked of us is 'why are we homeschooling'? The best answer I can give is because we can.

But first, a listing of what are not reasons for our decision:

We didn’t like the public schools’…..nope, Vance attended public schools starting in Kindergarten thru 2nd grade. We were for the most part satisfied with the education that he was receiving, Denise was a very active participant in the classroom as room mom, and Cobb County, Ga, where we lived at the time, had arguably the best school district in the state. Walton High School, which was a long rock toss from the house, was listed 3 years ago as the top public high school in the country by Newsweek. Quality of education really wasn’t an issue at the time we made the decision to homeschool Vance.

Religious reasons….no again. We believe strongly in evolution, separation of church and state, and freedom of beliefs….all beliefs, not just a selected few. While we respect anyone who has strong enough beliefs to want to educate their children according to their religious tenets, we aren’t one of those people.

Think we could do a better job – I like to think Denise and I are reasonably bright and creative people, but I’m not so arrogant to believe I’ll do a better job than a trained professional educator. There are a lot of times I really wish I knew what I was doing. But I also felt that a lot during my professional life, first as a programmer, then as a manager, ultimately as a business owner. What felt like faking it sometimes to me apparently looked like the real thing to a lot of other people, and it turned out alright. Hopefully Vance won’t be permanently damaged by exposure to a teacher who is, honestly, sometimes making up it up as we go.

We homeschool because it affords me, as a father, to indulge myself in one of my greatest pleasures – spending a lot of time with my son, watching his growth as a person first hand, and playing a large role in his development, rather than farming the job out to virtual strangers. This is important to both Denise and I, and has a lot to do with our decision to restructure our lifestyle.

We were able, thru a combination of risk taking, hard work, a lot of help from some extremely talented people, and just plain good luck, to reach a modest level of financial security after the sale of one of my businesses. After a short break, I started another business and continued to work for several years after it was acquired by Radiant Systems.

Although we were comfortable financially and I enjoyed my work, we both felt that something was missing. The downside of the ‘Money Trap’ was the fact that I simply didn’t see that much of my family. Other than some rushed moments in the morning getting Vance up and off to school, and an hour or so in the evening to cram in dinner and get him to bed…..I pretty well didn’t see him other than weekends. After a while it began to dawn on us that what good was having a few dollars in the bank if we weren’t living life the way we wanted.

So we changed it. We decided to downsize our lives, sell our suburban home, leave my job, and reduce our expenses to a level where we could survive on our savings for a period of time. We completed the renovations on our 100 year old mountain farmhouse, and moved out of our suburban Atlanta home and moved up to our country farm. Life is smaller up here- while we are very comfortible in our little farmhouse, it is a big step down from where we lived previously. However, the privacy and beauty of the farm, the slow pace of life, and being greeted by name when entering the ice cream shop in Bryson City more than make up for anything we may have given up in the big city.

Homeschooling Vance allows us the freedom of schedule – we’re off the clock. Finally, we will be able to travel, using the backdrop of camping all over the US (maybe other countries too) to teach Vance that there is a big, varied world out there, and how to conduct himself comfortably and confidently within it. That is my goal for his education – to learn how the world works for himself.

So homeschooling is a gift to myself. Hopefully my son will grow up with the knowledge that there was nothing his Daddy enjoyed more than to spend time in his company when he was young, and to try to share a few lessons along the way.

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