Last year, we pulled our daughter out of public kindergarten after winter break.
Although she'd initially loved school, after a few months, the slow pace of a classroom with 26 kids started to wear her down. I hate to be the parent saying, "My child is so brilliant," but she is quite advanced, and last year as a kindergartener who turned 5 just three days before school started, she was reading on a third- or fourth-grade level and doing second-grade math. She's also a fairly social kid, but the school day didn't leave a lot of time for actual socializing aside from a 15-minute recess and a little free play in the classroom at the end of the day.
Around Thanksgiving, she started really resisting going to school and and asking to come home, so knowing that her beloved teacher was going on maternity leave for the rest of the year and she'd have three different long-term subs during the second half of the year, we made the decision to homeschool her full-time for the rest of the year.
This year, she didn't want to go back, so we're homeschooling again.
I've been pretty happy with homeschooling as a fit for our family right now, but I always feel awkward telling other parents about it.
Here's what I really want to say when it comes up that we've opted out of the public school system this year.
1. I don't think you're a bad parent for not homeschooling!
Public school works out for lots and lots of kids, and I think it's a great option. I don't think for a second that I'm a better parent than you are because I keep my child home. (Crazier than you? Quite possibly. But not a better parent.)
2. I would totally send my child to public school if she wanted to go in the future.
I'm not denying my child a public-school experience because of my own wishes. SHE'S the one who asked to be homeschooled, and we're in the fortunate position to be able to accommodate that request. And if next year or in five years, she wants to go back to public school (or try out a charter school or some other option), I'm totally willing to make the jump.
3. I'm not a supermom.
I do a few hours of homeschooling in the morning, you do a few hours of homework in the afternoon. You're basically doing as much work as I am, except I'm the boss of the work my child does. Basically, I just don't have to hear "You're doing it WRONG" when I show my child a different way to do math or handwriting than the teacher would have. Also, yes, there are many days where I think about how fantastic it would be to put my child on the bus and have her off at school for seven hours.
4. You could absolutely homeschool your child.
This is first grade; it's not rocket science. You order a math book and a spelling curriculum and pick some books to read aloud and sign them up for an art or music class, and voila. Homeschool.
We live in a neighborhood with tons of children, we attend church weekly, we have play dates, and my daughter is in art lessons, STEAM club at the library and takes gymnastics. My personal theory is that homeschooling doesn't make kids weird. (What, have you never seen a weird kid in public school? Because I saw MANY during my time as both a student and a school librarian.) Maybe weird kids mostly have weird parents. Maybe weird parents might be more likely than "normal" parents to choose homeschooling. Regardless, a child's behavior isn't fully dependent on whether or not they attend public school. (And hey, if you have a socially awkward child, chances are good that public school won't make them normal. They'll just get teased, bullied or ostracized. You know you can think of at least three or four people who had that exact experience in your public school history.)
But probably, if you ask me about homeschooling, I won't say any of that. I'll just smile and say, "Yes, we're homeschooling this year" and change the subject.