I’m linked up with the fabulous bloggers of the iHomeschool Network to help you answer the critics. Check out the other great posts.

I’ll never forget the day I took my kids to Target soon after I pulled Trevor from school and began our adventure of homeschooling. It was the middle of the day, Logan was about 7 months old sitting in the cart, and Molly and Trevor were checking out the toys. We had a loaded cart because {as usual} we’d found too many things we hadn’t planned on buying when we set out on errands that day. I was ready to go home.

I ran into a former colleague, someone I taught with when I worked as a gifted intervention specialist. A woman who had recently retired. She asked how everyone was, and then asked Trevor if he was home sick from school.

He told her no, that he’d just started homeschooling.

And she stared at me.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit nervous about homeschooling when I began. I didn’t know any other homeschoolers, I was a former public school teacher, and my husband taught in the public schools {and still does}. I admit that I was afraid of the reactions I would get.

And this teacher-friend reacted worse than I had feared.

With my kids out of ear-shot and looking at toys, she asked me why I would ever do such a thing. And I explained, feeling awkward and nervous, about his twice-exceptionalities, struggles with medication side-effects, and our determination to modify his diet and give him appropriate outlets for a growing boy’s energy-level instead of forcing him to sit still and fail all day, not reaching his potential, and losing his love of learning. I babbled on because I felt I needed to defend my choice.

And I braced myself.

She told me that I was selfish for pulling him out. That with my background and experience with twice-exceptional children and gifted kids of various levels, I should use Trevor’s struggles as an opportunity to get into the schools from a parent’s and expert’s perspective and advocate for change. That things wouldn’t change for these kids if we parents kept pulling them out of schools. {I’ve since learned that gifted and twice-exceptional kids are one of the fastest growing populations of homeschoolers as parents realize that the current model of education isn’t cutting it for our brightest children.}

I was actually dumbfounded for a moment.

And I said something polite about how we were just doing what we thought best at the time, and that things could change as we moved forward, but that encounter has stuck with me all these years. Things I should have said and needed to say, and have since said to other similar critics have swirled around my mind.

You see, since that time, I’ve become an advocate for homeschooling – and for homeschooling gifted kids in particular. I really, truly believe that homeschooling is the best educational option there is today. Kids get individualized, one-on-one instruction, based off of their interests and talents, provided by the people who love them best.

Whatever our background – be it teaching, nursing, science, ministry, or anything else – we are first and foremost, parents. God blessed us with these children, with all their abilities, disabilities, quirks, and talents. He told us to raise them. He expects us to advocate for them.

He calls me to be my own child’s advocate first. Public school wasn’t working for us for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you. And it doesn’t mean, that if it isn’t working for you, that I need to be the change for your child.

I need to be the change for my children.

 

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And you know what, once I raise these sweet blessings I have the privilege of tucking in each night, once they’re off to a great start in life, are finding their way in the world, and I’m settling into the next phase in my life, maybe I will pick up that gauntlet. Things should change in our schools for gifted and twice-exceptional children. Except for some rare and stellar cases, their needs are being widely unmet.

But for now, I’m advocating for my own kids. They are bright, they are needy, and they’re mine. I’m navigating the waters of interest-led asynchronous learning. I’m using textbooks, computer programs, lapbooks, museums, road trips, and play as a basis for movement and learning. And my husband and I are focusing our time and attention on their hearts as well as their minds.

My decision to homeschool my gifted kids isn’t about turning my back on public education or my background and expertise. And it is not a commentary on your choices. Homeschooling isn’t right for everyone, just as public, online, private, or parochial schooling isn’t right for everyone.

Homeschooling, for me, is about leveraging my own talents to raise the best, brightest, and most well-rounded godly children I possibly can.

And it’s about walking alongside my kids and becoming a family of lifelong learners… together.

How has YOUR decision to school your children, whether at home or somewhere else, been met or criticized by others? What type of reactions have you faced?

For more information on Gifted Kids, Check Out:

         

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Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.