Dear Readers: Here are some of the best letters I received from the homeschooling debate recently in my column that started with Unenthusiastic Mom, who didn't want to take it on, though her child asked for it.
DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I homeschooled my kids because they were overweight and being bullied in school. They graduated Grade 12 with high standings and both got back down to a normal weight during the first year after being out of school, and away from the bullying and the angst. My kids tell anyone who will listen that homeschooling was great. We had their IQs tested and they were way higher than normal, which may have been the reason they were bored at school and enjoyed advanced schoolwork at home. Not every kid is suited to the school system -- mine sure weren't. -- Happy With Decision, Westwood
Dear Happy: Bullying can make it impossible to learn in class, or to calm down enough to lose weight. Clearly this was the best solution for your children.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I homeschooled my kids for two years while travelling and was glad for them to get them back into the school system where they could meet other kids their own age. That's the one thing my husband and I could not provide them with when we were travelling the world -- friends. I'm not sorry we did it, but I was glad when it was over. It was exhausting for my husband and sometimes he would get impatient with our son and yell at him. -- Glad, S. Winnipeg
Dear Glad: Having been a teacher, I know some teachers weren't suited to the profession. Your husband didn't have the necessary patience, though he may have had the ability to instruct. Teachers need both.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I never planned on homeschooling my children, and walked into it with many reservations, much like Unenthusiastic Mom. But I ended up spending nine years doing it, taking two of the kids right through junior high. I don't regret a moment. The sense of family identity you build is unbeatable. Some of my kids had years when they really wanted to be in a "classroom school" and we did let them go. As for socialization: there are several homeschool associations to tap into for gym, science fairs and other activities. We hired a high school student to teach debate club, had Shakespeare workshops with theme dinners, endless field trips -- and traded art, drama, phys-ed lessons among the parents, and accessed classes in the Leisure Guide. The kids volunteered at the local elementary school with me and gained skills in leading groups of children. The local junior high took on two of the children as band students (the government will fund such classes). There is a plethora of solid curriculum out there -- some of it based online -- and it can be focused on what your son (and you) find interesting. Now that my own are in their 20s, I realize how narrow the window is where they really need hands-on parenting and it can make a crucial difference. Your son is wanting you. What an honour. -- Homeschool Veteran, Winnipeg
Dear Veteran: Thanks for sending in all the concrete suggestions for enrichment to a homeschool curriculum.They will be helpful to those considering it.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org