Why I am homeschooling…

John Taylor Gatto quotes

After a long and difficult process of sleepless nights and agonizing, after long talks with my husband, we’ve decided to jump the public school ship for our youngest son next year. Monkey will turn 5 just a few weeks before the school year starts.  Many parents opt for “red-shirting” (which is holding a child back a year).  My husband is in agreement that despite our youngest son’s academic readiness, a 7 hour school day complete with a HUGE class size is too much for our little guy to handle at this point.

Monkey’s IEP points to auditory processing delays, and a traditional classroom relies HEAVILY on that learning modality.   My husband’s reasoning for Monkey to school at home is different than mine: he was the youngest in his class and he felt that put him at a disadvantage.  I don’t think a traditional classroom will serve Monkey well.  It’s a square peg meets round hole situation.  He’s the type of kid who teaches himself.  Like he did to read.  By himself.  Through fairy dust and osmosis.

Red-shirting means many things for the “young 5s”, especially boys who typically need more time in the realm of social-emotional development.  CPS frowns down upon red-shirting, and will simply sort kids Harry Potter style by age, without any regard for anything OTHER than age. As it stands, we are keeping Monkey out of public school. Period.

The kicker as of right now? Moose will stay in his autism program under “flex-hours” to fit his afternoon therapy schedule.

So, one son is homeschooled, rather the PC term is “home educated”.  The other son is still in school.

I finally got around to reading a book I meant to read a decade ago when I was finishing my master’s degree in education.  A book called Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto.  And wow.  Just wow.

John Taylor Gatto quotes



So true.  The best education is the one you give yourself.  You can pay for fancy private schools.  High-priced tutors.  But, no school or teacher can give you an “education”.  Autism has given me MORE of an education than either of my degrees.  I’ve learned more blogging than I did in college.

Life is education.  School is schooling.

About “schools” here in Chicago:

Class sizes in our CPS schools are between 35-37 kids in kindergarten.  Moose’s kinder only has 10 kids with a superb teacher and two aides. For Monkey, he will be thrown in huge class with a pared down IEP.  Monkey is already reading.

So while most kindergarten teachers are spending times on letter sounds and easy preprimer sight words…my son already has that down.  So, what do you get when you put a bored kid with a few sensory issues in a huge class size with tons of distractions?

A recipe for disaster.

I’m not stupid.  I have been there. Done that. Have the tee-shirt.

As a former teacher, I know how little time is spent on personalized instruction when you have a class size that HUGE.  An IEP says one thing, but true differentiation of instruction is a unicorn. It only happens in a 1:1 setting.  So, what, 20 minutes a day in a guided reading group?  Will that really challenge my son?

I’m not saying that teachers are incompetent, by NO means.  Teachers works their asses off.  They are just given the impossible task of differentiating instruction in a system that is beyond broken.

I want more than that for my children.  Moose’s situation as it stands, is a good one.  For now.  After 2nd grade, in two years, we will face the same choice for him.

Outside the public school system, the schools don’t fare much better. Montessori would be ideal, but the tuition is more than my mortgage. No joke.  For Monkey, private school tuition ranges from 5-6K a year in the Catholic school to upwards of 20K a year for Montessori and other private schools.  That’s a lot to chew, when I know I can do a better job with Monkey.

I know exactly his weaknesses and his strengths.

Sure, I know it will be hell at first.

Just like when I was 25 years old teaching on the west side of Chicago.

But you adjust and make do.

Monkey is a strong-willed and rather gifted kid who wants to do everything on his own terms.

So, starting this summer, expect to see more homeschooling come about here.




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  1. We recently made the same decision for my soon to be 5 year old. She is currently at a local Montessori for pre-K and we love it unfortunately the cost is prohibitive starting with kindergarten. I have the same concerns as you. I know it will be hard but in my heart I know it is the best for her. We plan to continue with the Montessori philosophy at home.

    Sidenote: I think I have only met two other people with our name. I was just sitting down to write about our choice to homeschool and saw your link in my FB feed. I had forgotten we had the same name and when I clicked over and saw it I was a little freaked out. I’ve been hesitate to write about homeschooling because I don’t want to hear from the naysayers. Reading this has given me a bit of a kick in the pants to just put it out there. I know I will need the support as I take on this adventure. I’m looking forward to hear more about your journey too.

    1. Hey Nicolette! (love the name 🙂

      Agreed about being cost-prohibitive…it boils me that Maria Montessori started her schools as a means of helping the poor/underserved in Italy. How that somehow translates to $10-20K tuition rates I see here in Chicago is beyond me.

      I say go for it to write about homeschooling. I’ve gotten some push-back from a few family members and even some well-meaning teacher friends of mine (sidenote: I was a Chicago school teacher for years). Everyone is worried about “socialization” (then I quickly note that socialization and socializing are two DIFFERENT things). As a school teacher, my kids had recess to “socialize”. The rest of the time there were to be quiet and do their seat work! The more we write about our process, the more we can open minds.

      But, these our OUR children and it’s ultimately OUR decision. We are the ones who are responsible for them. Please let me know how you plan on approaching this. Homeschooling is SO different than the traditional school model…I know I have a LOT of learning to do as well.

      My best,

  2. Fabulous book, I read it many years ago when my two were young. And bravo for not putting Monkey is such an environment so young. Yea to intuitive parenting1 All the best to you and your family,

    1. Susan-

      I meant to read Gatto’s work a DECADE ago when I finished my master’s in ed. Wish I would have then. One of my professors was very progressive, and mentioned Gattp often. I guess the books we need have a way of finding us again…when we need them. Even Monkey’s current PreK teacher is in agreement with me about next year. If anything, it will be a wonderful experiment. 🙂 I plan to share it all here, as a means of keeping tabs on myself and holding us more accountable.

      Thanks for the love,

  3. Way to go!! What a huge decision for you. Hard, but full of blessing, just like parenting, right?
    (35-37 students per class??? That’s nutso.)
    Hope you find a curriculum you love.

    1. Hi Mindy-

      Ah, yes. The curriculum…you probably know by now how picky I am lol…I’m not finding anything I LOVE, so like all good bloggers, I’ll probably DIY it. 🙂

      Yup. 35-37 in a class is standard here in Chicago. Totally nutso.


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