Since I wrote about homeschooling last week, I’ve been fielding tons of email messages from people sharing their public education horror stories.
This one jumped out at me because it seems to echo the news about an elementary school that canceled its kindergarten play so that the kindergartens could focus on college preparation. I don’t know that this woman’s kid goes to that school (she didn’t mention it, so I assume he doesn’t), but she is dealing with a similar problem.
Honestly, I hesitated to share this with you because, to me, in my little bubble of innocence and naivety, this is almost too horrendous to believe. A kid in FIRST GRADE already giving up his hobbies and passions because he’s concerned about what his college application will look like?
Is it that bad out there? I guess it is. At least, this seems to be an indication:
I read your post about home schooling and decided to finally email you, even if I’m not expecting a response. My son, Peter, is in first grade in a public school. Recently, with a combination of Common Core and just bad educational strategies on the part of the school, my kiddo seems to have lost his interest and motivation. I don’t blame his teachers but I blame the system, as you pointed out. He used to love to learn and read, but now he comes home stressed out and anxious. He is reduced to tears when he’s doing his homework! The math work is INSANE! I don’t think I had the amount of tests and homework that he has even when I was in COLLEGE!
I’m writing to you because my heart was broken last week when my son, who has always been very creative, playful, and loved arts and crafts, came home and announced that he doesn’t want to draw or play with Legos anymore. I asked him why and he said that it’s a waste of time. When I asked him why it’s a waste of time, he said it won’t help him get into college! I’m not kidding! Yesterday he told me he “hates school more than anything.” I told him that school is good because it’s where you go to learn. He literally responded that he “hates learning.”
This is crazy! I feel like the school is crushing my poor kid’s spirit and now he doesn’t even want to draw or do arts and crafts with mom anymore. It’s all about testing and grades and “useful knowledge”, and I’m afraid that his childhood is being taken from him. I don’t know why I’m writing this to you. I just enjoy your opinion, and the funny thing is that my son likes you, too. He hears mom and dad talk about your blog at the dinner table, so now “Mr. Matt” has become kind of a mythological hero to him, lol. I showed him the picture of you trying to kill a spider and he laughed his head off!
What do you think about this, Matt? I just want to know your perspective.
I think you chose the right words. If I’m a hero, it’s only in a mythological sense. In the real world, I’m noticeably lacking any heroic qualities at all. Still, I appreciate that you’ve opened up to me about your issue with your son. You know that I’m a homeschool proponent, so the first thing that comes to mind is that maybe you should consider other options outside of public school.
Of course, I don’t know your situation, so I can’t make that judgment call. It isn’t my business, anyway.
I thought that I’d write an email back to you, ranting about how kids are having their creativity and zest for life sucked out of them, but I changed my mind. I’ve ranted plenty on that subject, and I’m sure I’ll rant again in the future.
Right now, I’d like to address Peter directly, if you don’t mind. I wrote him a letter, and I’m hoping you’ll read it to him, or help him read it.
Here it is:
It’s Mr. Matt. I’m really worried, because your mom tells me that you think it’s a waste of time to draw pictures and play with Legos. I’m sad that you feel that way, because I bet you could draw an awesome picture of a dinosaur or a spaceship, but now the world will never get to see it.
Here’s the question, though:
Can you draw a picture of a dinosaur IN a spaceship? Check out the doodle I sketched this morning:
OK, maybe that looks more like a big hat with a picture of a lizard on it, but I tried my best.
I’ll admit that a few people in the history of the world have made cooler pictures. Has your mom told you about the Sistine Chapel? Look at this:
A guy named Michelangelo painted those pictures on the ceiling 500 years ago. It took him FOUR YEARS to paint all of them. If arts and crafts are a waste of time, then Michelangelo wasted A LOT of it.
Your mom also tells me that you hate learning. That’s too bad, Peter, because I love to learn, and I bet there are tons of things you’d love to learn about, too.
Did you know that there’s a type of cat called a cheetah, and it can run as fast as a car or a motorcycle?
Did you know that the temperature on the Sun is 27 MILLION degrees?
Did you know that your brain is smarter and more powerful than every computer on the planet?
These are really exciting facts. My life is more fun and enjoyable because I know them. This is what happens when you learn. You discover more about the world and yourself. Learning is like going on a journey over an ocean, or through a jungle, except you can do it in your home or at school.
There are a bunch of things I haven’t learned yet, but I hope I will one day. For example, I’ve always wanted to know why people yawn, or why it’s impossible to tickle yourself. Maybe you can find those things out and teach me about them. Or maybe nobody knows, and you can be the first person to ever answer the question.
Also, can you figure out what this weird animal is supposed to be:
I think it lives in the rainforest, but I’m not sure. I need help investigating this mystery.
See, I’m not even in school or college, but I’m always trying to feed my brain and increase my understanding of the world around me.
You should learn, and draw, and paint, and read, and play with Legos, Peter. I still play with Legos. You wouldn’t believe the huge tower I built last week. It literally touched the ceiling. Seriously.
Don’t worry about college and grown up stuff right now. You’ve got more important things to do. Things like:
-Rolling down a grassy hill
-Using your imagination
-Jumping through a sprinkler
-Jumping in a puddle
-Jumping on the couch (don’t tell your mom)
-Deciding what you’ll say if aliens land and you’re the first person to make contact with them. (I already decided what I’ll say. I’ll probably just tell them “hello,” and then I’ll ask them if they want some iced tea.)
-Painting and drawing pictures
-Writing poems and stories
-Eating ice cream
That’s at least 13 things that you should definitely fit into your schedule, especially playing, reading, and daydreaming. And ice cream, obviously.
My kids are just babies, but I hope they’re as artistic and creative as you one day. It’s a great power — a superpower — to be able to dream things in your head and then put them on paper. Sometimes it’s fun to dream something in your head, and just keep it there, and revisit your dream from time to time. It’s like you’re building a new world for yourself, out of nothing but your mind and your imagination.
I have a homework assignment for you: think of a story. Just make up a story. Any story at all. You don’t have to tell anyone, or write it down, or do anything with it. Just think of it. That’s all. Put yourself in your story — pretend you’re the main character. Think about it, just for the sake of thinking about it.
That’s the assignment.
When I was a kid, I liked to think that I was a time traveling ninja.
Actually, I still like to imagine that I’m a time traveling ninja.
My wife doesn’t enjoy it when I wear my ninja costume to the grocery store, or to dinner at her mother’s house, but I’m not sure why.
Anyway, I hope you continue to play, and draw, and learn, Peter. You’re a kid, and that’s your job right now.
P.S. I know what you’re thinking, but just because I’m afraid of spiders doesn’t mean I can’t be a ninja.
Thank you for this Letter. I know where I live there is a mass of people highly concerned about the Common Core curriculum and agenda, and what it aims to do with education. This will cause a great amount of damage as it proposes that anything that can’t be explained scientifically or mathematically is basically not credible. It stifles creativity and it will stifle ingenuity in the students who are made to believe that college is all that matters. I am a huge proponent of learning and education; however, attending college is NOT a guarantee of anything other than a piece of paper saying you accomplished something, that depending on where you attend, was or was not difficult. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have wracked up HUGE amounts of student debt to attend college so they could make the “six figure income,” and they are regularly disappointed about the saturation of the market in those fields that still have that potential, and they are sorely disappointed when they learn that a huge portion of millionaires and billionaires didn’t get a PhD, or in some cases didn’t attend college or finish. Bill Gates??? Experience, the ability to think outside the box, and come up with solutions to the unexplained, or possibilities and new ways of applying concepts and doing things…that is what comes from a mind that is trained to be creative…not one that only deals with concrete evidence…which in my opnion…is not always absolute anyway…it’s just a widely accepted theory. It is incredibly maddening to me that young children are being stifled from being children. When I was a kid I wanted to be a Fireman, then a Policeman, than a Lawyer, then a Chef, then a pet shop owner because I liked animals, then a marine biologist, then an architect, a doctor, etc., etc….the point is, I had the world of possibilities before me and I didn’t have to focus on one thing. I could explore all those possibilities and make a decision about what I wanted to pursue. Funny thing is…a high school diploma, and 2 degrees later…my interests in my career changed. My approach, proving to be more successful than just going to college, is certification through accredited and industry accepted organizations and practical hands on experience. Common Core will not provide that. My promotions in my career have not been about what I know in theory, but my ability to assess and apply new ideas and concepts to make things better and make a difference. THAT is key in any business, and if creativity is stifled through the Common Core or anything, it will only prove detrimental to our society. So, thanks again for this letter. I want to keep it and have it ready in the rare event, I have to prove to my own son what his “job” is as a kid.
That is the most beautiful thing you have ever written.
Agree. I have tears. Your babies are blessed.
This is what the new Common Core State Standards do. It was spoken about much in the Midwest Homeschool Convention.
Just brought tears to my eyes! What an awesome response and affirmation to wy we home school our kids! ❤
Native American Program Director
Wichita Public Schools
Great post, great post. As a teaching assistant of first graders being told to log graphs and charts constantly, it was very refreshing to hear someone talk about how learning is SUPPOSED to be.
Matt, what a wonderful thing you have done here. My children are grown, but I will say that there was always room for creativity and legos in our home. To this day with my children now being 23 and 26 they still find time to create just for the joy of it. They paint, they write, they sing. Not that there is any financial pay off in these things, but simply for the joy of self expression. Math and reading and history and science are a must, so are the arts. Core studies teach us to survive, creating gives us purpose.
Thank you for that last statement; i.e. “creating gives us purpose.” I love it!
Yes, you are a hero! I homeschooled for several years…and for this very reason, the system was killing the love of learning in my kids. So glad I found your blog.
As I was reading the letter you received from Anne, I was expecting your response to be the rant that you referred to. And I don’t mind your rants — I often agree with them, and even when I don’t, they always make me think and evaluate my own position. But then you abandoned the rant in favor of the letter to precious little Peter and that made all the difference! Obviously I wasn’t the only one who was moved by it, but I just wanted to say thank you! It was perfect. (and still totally made your point — you’re so good at that!)
I’m with you! The ‘Daddy’ in Matt really came out in this one, and while I really agree with some stuff he writes and think other stuff is ridiculous, this was perfectly on point.
Well, I’ve read quite a few of your blog posts since discovering the blog a couple months ago. THIS is the one that made me click the “Donate” button! Keep up the good work Matt. Your kids are lucky!
“Never let your schooling interfere with you education.” M. Twain
Matt you should be a teacher,that was a wonderful letter to a little boy or a little girl.Like the rest of the ladies I cried too!
He is a teacher. ;). They home-school.
Their kids are only just a year old-I don’t think they’re homeschooling quite yet. 🙂
My guess is that he already is… He’s a father and a homeschooling advocate. He can’t help but be a teacher.
Great column, Matt. While it didn’t make me cry, it made me sad that this little one is being emotionally battered in public school–very likely just so the school can brag about its “stats.” This is what happens when schools are more concerned with being PC, granting “tenure” to teachers, and raising their pay than with what’s in the best interests of the STUDENTS that are their very REASON for existing. I was fortunate to be one of those people who always tested well–and relatively easily. Tests didn’t intimidate me one iota. For a lark, I once (at age 35) took a cosmetology exam cold (while waiting to have my hair cut)(I was a teacher of sociology in that Jr. College which also offered cosmetology classes). I had NEVER sat in on a single lecture or read a single page of a cosmetology textbook, but I got a 78 on the test–which, based on the grading curve, would have been a solid B! Tests intimidate some people, I understand. Fortunately, I’m not one of those people
Oh Matt! This post! I am grinning from ear to ear. We are just beginning our homeschool adventure. Our oldest has 5 weeks of public school left and we are definitely in countdown to emotional and creative freedom mode here!!
Matt, that was absolutely perfect. And to the mom, there are many resources for using Legos for learning. Boys learn better when they are playing. He actually needs to play in order to learn more, better, whatever way you want to phrase it.
I love this post more than i can put into words. When I was young, my stepmother used to tell me all the time that drawing and reading were a waste of time. “Find something useful to do” she would say. I am now a 44-year-old stay at home mom that brings in extra income by (drum roll) selling art and hand painted glass. I love how creative my boys are: my oldest taught himself how to play guitar and he writes music, lyrics and short stories. My two younger boys are Lego-aholics, they draw on every piece of paper they come across, they love to paint glass with me and we sometimes go out in our yard and splatter paint with reckless abandon. I wouldn’t dream of squashing any of that. I am so thankful that we’ve got them in a school that fosters creativity through enrichment classes (art, cake decorating, strategy games, animation, etc) and programs (they have an award winning robotics team). I have heard horror stories from my friends about their schools dropping all of their creative classes and pushing an all-work agenda. The life has been sucked out of their children as well as their love of school and learning. It’s depressing and it shows in their faces and attitudes.
Well done, Mr. Matt. Much respect to you and all the time traveling ninjas out there.
Matt, I literally teared up ( and looks like I wasn’t the only one) reading this. Great response to Peter. I hope it reaches him!
I have 2 girls. ages 8 and 10. We were in the public school system until I withdrew them on September 23rd. 7 months later, we’re the happiest we’ve ever been. all of us. peace and joy and PLAYING has re-entered our home! They love to learn now. before…they were always being rushed from place to place…always in a hurry to finish a test or finish their homework or finish this or that. they now learn because they want to. simple as that.
Seriously…when did children start being expected to be the adults? We have to work and bring home the bacon…but they should be children. their job is to learn by exploring their surroundings…and figuring out how things work…and experimenting..and YES…making mistakes too! When did we start raising an army of little soldiers???? Let the kids be kids, for pete’s sake!
Thank you for always taking the UNPOPULAR route, Matt.
Thank you! I’m sharing this with my son tonight!
Hero: “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” – dictionary.reference.com
You are a hero, Matt as you exhibit all those qualities in excess.
My biggest goal in life is to be my son’s hero just as my dad was and is my hero.
My older brother preferred to draw space ships and airplanes, or build them with Legos, instead of doing his school. He is now a rocket scientist (literally) and works for Learjet designing airplanes. Drawing pictures and playing with Legos IS learning and IS worth the time!
what an awesome post. I enjoy a lot of your posts, but I especially enjoy when you write letters to children. I feel sad for him and his parents right now, but I bet your words will help him! Peter, never stop playing or imagining or learning. I’m almost 33 and I do all these things every day!
Of ALL the ways you could have responded…this is by far the best!!! What a sincere heart you have, Matt, from speaking the blunt truth to speaking from your heart to a young child.
Anne’s letter made me cry. Anne–pull your son out of that school NOW!! You will find another place for him, be it homeschooling, a private school, anywhere but that horror show.
I believe common core was designed to do one thing. Destroy the willingness to learn so the next generation will not know what has happened to the US.
My own generation (age 19) has no idea what has happened to the U.S.
That had me laughing and crying at the same time it was so beautiful. Reminded me of one of my favorite books The Little Prince for some reason. Maybe because I always go back to it (or the Neverending Story-the book. Not the movie) when I feel too grown up. Thanks “Mr. Matt”.
Matt, you freakin ROCK. You made me cry.
Peter, don’t stop having fun! My 16 year old daughter draws ALL the time. Her goal? To animate for Pixar. Drawing, arts, crafts, Legos…..work it all sweetie!
Spot. On. Thank you Matt. My kids are mostly grown, homeschooled, and have done plenty of this (and still often do). I think MY inner child needed to hear it more though. Our culture has made quite an idol of knowledge. education, and accomplishment. Even as a pastor, I get caught up in all that junk … you’d think I’d know better. Thank you.
I want to hug you and Peter right now! Wonderfully written letter to encourage him to just be a kid. Can I have some of that ice cream too?
You are AWSOME Mr. Matt!!!! I am 40 and all I had to worry about when I was a kid was if I could ride my bike, skate, explore the woods, fly a kite, play with my toys, play with my friends, climb a tree, go to the park, play the Atari, color, finger paint, play doh, etc,etc. Its so sad and disturbing that so much pressure is put on these kids at such a young age. I have a 3 yo and a 1 1/2 yo boys. And they play ALL the time and I will always encourage this. I understand the importance of a good education and will also encourage that also. But life is meant to be lived! Learning should be fun! Not forced! We also played on metal playground equipment and survived when I was a kid , and with hard dirt underneath! ( so, when we fell, it hurt! But we lived!) I was a military brat so the only hard thing I had to deal with was making new friends and adjusting to a new school and surroundings. But still did all the things I loved to do. I grew up with morals and respect. And I am set on teaching my Lil guys the same things.♥
I teared up reading this post to Peter. My son is 3 now (who’s name is also Peter 🙂 ), and I’ve been so nervous about putting him in public school because of moral reasons. I love education. I am probably going to home school him, but I heard a rumor that homeschooled kids won’t be elligible for college because of having to sign off on common core levels or something..? I wish I knew where to get the info because if thats whats required then I guess we have no choice..? Its way too early to know if my son will want to go to college, but if he does, I’d hate for his homeschooled education to disqualify him because I missed certain required common core steps. 😦 Its like no matter what, the govermnent is in my/our business, controlling everything whether in the beginning or end.
Colleges are accepting home schooled kids at higher and higher rates every year. There may be cover schools or home school co-ops near you that can help you navigate high school classes. Worst case scenario, you can home school until 9th grade.
One cannot predict what will happen in the future. If you look at the past, though, it seems that the way has been paved for homeschoolers. They are finding it much easier to get into university. Some are even finding that they are *more* prepared than their publicly-educated peers.
Find a local homeschool support group and chat with some parents there. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
Homeschooled kids can absolutely get into college! (If they want to, of course.) For example, one of the many possible approaches is to start at a community college, where people without high school diplomas, including high school-aged people, are welcome. Then if one wants to finish a four year degree, transfer as a junior to college or university. My older daughter went this route & is now a physician! She found that at her medical school interviews the selection team was always fascinated by her home education background. & she wowed them. All three of my never-schooled-until-college kids are now successful, fulfilled, & self-supporting adults. Please, don’t let what appear to be iron-clad educational ‘rules’ keep you from doing what your heart tells you is right for your children.
This was so refreshing to read. Beyond perfect, Mr. Matt!
I’ve read the majority of the posts you’ve written in the last year. Sometimes I think you’re a bit out there. Sometimes I think you’re too strident in how you present things. Most times, though, I think “man, that dude just wrote exactly what I think…but better.”
What you wrote in this letter was way beyond anything I could’ve thought up. It was beautiful; it was captivating, and it perfectly described what childhood is meant to be. I’m a touch miffed that you made me cry at work, but I’m grateful for your talent. Keep fighting the good fight, Matt.
Matt, I read your blog all of the time and I always appreciate the time and effort you apply to all of your posts. Today though, man, you made me cry. I totally agree with kids being allowed to be kids. Yes, I homeschool, but honestly, that isn’t even the point, kids NEED to be kids. And you stepping out and writing Peter a letter, well….you rock. You didn’t need to take an interest in this little boy’s life, but you did. And I respect that you took the time to encourage one little boy. Seriously, if it is only one little kid at a time, so be it. That might be the one kid that makes the world a better place.
Rock on man, the world is a better place because you step out and say it like it is. Bless you and your family.
I am wiping tears. What a beautiful letter you have written. My son is 5 and my twin girls are two and we LOVE creating art work, playing dress up, building with legos, singing and dancing! We do these things every day!
College bothers me simply BECAUSE it forces one to focus on one thing. If you’re good at lots of things, or want to be, that’s too bad, apparently – I can usually make do with a lot less information than most, but there’s no way to get instruction in that many things. I always thought of it as some semblance of “balancing system” a la Harrison Bergeron. “Oh, he’s really gifted and could excel in six or seven different fields? Heh. Well, he won’t mind being restricted to one…” Hanlon’s Razor dictates that it’s ignorance, not malicious intent, keeping the system how it is.
Here is a list of what I planned to study in college:
Music (mostly composition, I also would like to learn the Marimba, Upright bass, and Timpani, although to me, “learning an instrument” usually consists of sitting down for twenty minutes and being almost as competent as people who have played it for about a year or so.)
Languages – Japanese, Russian, Armenian, Bengali, Sanskrit, Ancient Sumerian scripts (if possible)
Computer programming (I’d like to learn four or five programming languages at the very least)
Art – Animation, Sculpture, Painting, Graphic Design
Here is a list of what I will actually be able to study in college, free time notwithstanding:
(I cannot enter the music program since apparently I have to audition despite being a composer rather than a performer – I am forced into such a position due to a wrist injury that prevents performance beyond a certain level, and accommodations cannot be made, apparently)
A bit silly – Shouldn’t we be making accommodations for those more likely to succeed? Indeed, if colleges accepted IQ tests, I could get into literally any school (99.67 percentile at last testing). Sadly, most people define “intelligent” as “prioritizes like me”, and “most people” includes my parents….
Just a thought: if you don’t care about the actual degree reflecting your “desired” courses, why not pursue those through other avenues? There are so many fine arts classes available outside of traditional universities. Good luck!
I have considered that many times (though admittedly whatever pride results from being “the smart one” is a slight factor as well – Even though I know it means absolutely nothing, I want four+ Phds, just because I know full well that I am capable of attaining them. It’s a ridiculous self-esteem issue that I probably shouldn’t talk about on the internet). My parents insist I attend college and refuse to fund alternative educational pursuits despite the fact that I might get “more for less”. It would certainly be nice, though. They’ve actually refrained from getting me music lessons on the grounds that “I’m unteachable”, simply because I refused the suggestion of instruction from members of my church band (I exhibit a greater understanding of music than all of them, but apparently “that’s impossible” because I’ve only been playing guitar for three years or something? Ugh. My father’s a doctor, too – You’d think he’d be less blithely ignorant about it).
I am in the exact same boat (except without a wrist injury, so I am in the music program, but not studying composition). My field is a double major in Computer Science and Cyber Engineering, so I at least get some broader material, but I hate the insane amount of time I have to spend on Math (most of which is so high level I’ll never use it), when I could instead be learning a few languages or studying philosophy.
Humorously, you’re also using a single letter as your posting-name, and not only that, it is the tenth letter of the alphabet – Mine is the twentieth. (Here is the part where I resist going into ternary to find some kind of deeper meaning in that)
It really is inconvenient, though…
THAT was a one of a kind, hero- maker post! Excellent advice! I shall print this and tape it to the wall over the desks of my six boys! ( of course I will marker over the couch part..not that it matters…it’s hard to find the couch in the tent where they are doing their schoolwork…) thank you for putting into words what a LOT of parents want to say to their kids!
I teared up too. Thank you for this post.
I have a story like this. My niece, who is 6, learned to read and write the spring before she started school and by the time the summer ended she was constantly writing and illustrating little stories. No piece of paper was safe! Now she has a kindergarten journal that she’s supposed to write in 3 times a week and it’s like pulling teeth to get her to do it. She went from LOVING to read and write to despising it in just a few months. She gets so stressed out about school and school work and she’s in KINDERGARTEN! How is she going to survive high school?
Love it! Thanks, Matt!
My little brother (now 21) loved school until 4th grade. His teacher that year decided that he would essentially be the scapegoat for her dislike of males, it was made worse by the fact that her best friend’s daughter was in her class that year. By the end of the school year my brother not only hated schooling but believed he was terrible at it. He still doesn’t enjoy school or anything having to do with it. In 10th grade his communication skills were at a 5th grade level, and he has not been able to determine what he is going to do to support his family.
All that to say, this is what I see Common Core preparing to do to an entire generation of students. Teach them to hate learning and believe that they are terrible at it. This is the reason my children will not be in a public school if we can avoid it. As much as I hate the idea of homeschooling- strictly for selfish reasons- I will do what is best for my children. I hope more parents will do the same.
This letter is exactly why I read this blog 🙂 Anne, hang in there, I’ve got a first grader too (…and a 5th grader, 3yo, & 6mo) – we struggle with have different priorities than most others in public schools after a relocation. We try to stay positive about what is common in our value system with the schools but every little one knows our family culture & faith practices come first always – even when we had the kids in a Catholic school at our old residence.
Awesome post! We have a 6, 4 and 2 year old. We are homeschooling for the long haul! Our days are filled with drawing, dancing, LEGOS, playing outside, playing house with pretend names and scenarios, swinging, telling stories, reading and more drawing. The freedom and beauty of childhood is being stolen and it breaks my heart for this generation. I love all that your write, and am so thankful for your voice of reason and common sense in an upside down, backwards, inside out world. I hope your readers grow, grow and grow in number! I seriously thank God for you, your wife and two children. World changers.
I enjoyed this too. Hopefully she finds an answer for her son. For your information, I believe the animal you posted is a Slow Loris. Makes me change my mind once again about homeschooling. I haven’t always enjoyed it, but maybe it is best for my son for now.
I’d love to encourage you to stick with it. I just started this year (puling my kids out after many years in the public system). I’m certainly not doing it perfectly, but I’ve seen a huge difference in my kids (ages 8-12) since they’ve been learning at home. They get along better, they take more time to play and make up games. They are able to learn the things that interest them. And they are learning under someone who knows and loves them, so their confidence is growing all the time.
It is hard! It is a sacrifice! And by the month of April, it seems that most moms are at their wits’ end. But stick with it, if you can. It makes such a difference.
I love Matt’s reply to Peter, but I have to respond to Anne because I could have written her letter two years ago. My son, Matt, was finishing up second grade at our local public school and he had stopped being the funny, smart, charming child I sent to school three years prior. He was withdrawn and sullen and had stopped caring about pretty much everything. His teacher told me on the last day of school that she had loved having Matt in class. He was great, she said, he did his work without a problem and she never had to worry about him. She meant it as compliment, but to me it was a warning bell. He wasn’t a behavior problem, he wasn’t a genius, he was just going to slide through the school system doing the bare minimum with no one to engage or challenge him. His school work was fine, but the social atmosphere was sucking the life out of him. We made the decision that summer to homeschool and have never looked back. It took several months to get our boy back to his normal, fun-loving, creative, smart self. The decision to homeschool was a difficult one for us but it was one of the best decisions we ever made. I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but if it’s a possibility for you, Anne, I urge you to explore it. Homeschooling is so rewarding and is growing is all areas of the country. Good luck to you and Peter.
Mr. Matt, that was amazing. As a mom of three boys, I see at times how they just want to zone out with their video games or on the computer. The stress of school and sports and such gets to them. They’re too young to be burned out on school. Your letter to Peter brought tears to my eyes thinking of how they should be allowed to be innocent and carefree for just a while longer (They’re teenagers, but still…).Thank you so much for reminding me.
“I don’t blame his teachers but I blame the system, as you pointed out.”
Really? Really? Maybe it’s time to start blaming the lockstepping teachers that are doling out this drivel. They are where the morons meet the students and they can’t just be given a kiss and a hug.
My 3rd son is 25. He joined the Navy right out of high school and served six years in information security. He now has a well paying job in the same field. He still plays with his Legos, He always has a drawing pad handy and his writing notebook. He loves board games, soccer and runs. It all part of life, learning and growing. Like Grandma use to say: “Go play, Peter”
That was about the most touching thing I’ve read in years. Matt, thanks for encouraging little guys to play and dream.
Matt, I just want to hug you right now! Thank you for writing this. We homeschool too and our goals are that along with a fantastic education, our kids will cultivate their awesome imagination, creativity and the joy of discovering the world as well as becoming who God made them to be – instead of hiding who they are to fit in. Sometimes, I worry that public school not only causes children to lose their love of learning but it causes them to suppress or lose their individuality. Kids can be mocked or made to feel weird if they aren’t like everyone else. Who wants a world where everyone is like everyone else? Was Einstein “normal”? Michelangelo? Mozart? They, like many other world-changers – were odd, eccentric and brilliant. I don’t think public school “socialization” which so many people criticize homeschoolers for missing out on – allows for the flourishing of odd, brilliant eccentrics. I think they just get beat up and torn down. Anyway, thanks for so beautifully summing up that education is not about passing a test – education is a lifelong adventure to discover this amazing, fascinating, complex world and the potential inside each of us to be world-changers.