Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Leaving public school is sometimes like escaping a cult

Friday, October 3, 2014

Leaving public school is sometimes like escaping a cult

I wonder, how many homeschoolers actually felt like you were survivors of a traumatic experience when you pulled your kids out of public school? I did. In many ways, I felt like I'd escaped from a cult, where people with absolute power had control over me and my kids, where our entire community pressured us to stay and conform, and we were all suffering because of it.

Like many homeschoolers, I lived in a district where the schools were overcrowded, and where I had no choice over which elementary school my kids attended. I had to fight to get my kids the speech therapy they needed, and to keep them from being pigeon holed into classes where they didn't belong. We dealt with classroom bullies, an inattentive bus driver who lost my kindergartner, teaching methods that failed to engage my son, and lunch periods so short they threatened my daughter's health.

But we escaped! And although leaving behind the only form of education we had ever known was hard, it was the best decision my husband and I could have made for our kids.

Being able to talk about our bad experiences with the schools, and hear the stories of others who'd transitioned from public school to homeschooling made a tremendously cathartic for me. It was like group therapy, and I discovered that I was not alone. Many new homeschoolers feel exactly the same, as if they have just escaped from a controlling, unhealthy, often traumatic situation.

It's not just bashing public schools

Talking with others about the negative aspects of public school may be perceived as bashing by some, especially non-homeschoolers or homeschoolers who still have connections to their local schools. But for those who have been hurt at the schools, physically and/or emotionally, and may still be tormented by friends and family who are critical of their decision to homeschool, a place to vent is especially important.

That's what makes online and local support groups for new homeschoolers so critical. They need a safe place to vent about the system they left behind, and to learn what they need to know to move successfully into educating their children at home. They need support, not only in deciding what curriculum to pick and how to set up their school schedule, but in confirming that they made the absolute right choice for their family.

Publicly, openly acknowledging how bad public school can be helps those who left awful situations behind to work through the emotional trauma and crushing doubts that so often accompany leaving public school. To commiserate with other "survivors" of sorts helps work out the feelings of anger and loss, and then to move past the hurt and into the good parts of homeschooling.

We're not all at the same place on our homeschooling journey, but I guarantee you, without being able to talk about the negatives of public school with other people who'd been there when we got out, I would have never become the happy and successful homeschooler I am today!

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