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This Dad’s Letter to the School Is Great, But…

A while back, I read an article about a dad who took his kids out of school for a few days so that they could cheer him on as a participant in the Boston Marathon, attend the funeral of a family member, and visit a few historic sites in New England. The school sent him a scathing letter citing attendance policies and penalties for unexcused absences, noting that “the school district is not in the position of overseeing family vacations or evaluating the educational nature of a family trip.”

Wow! Government schools really don’t get it.

You can read the story here. As explained in the article, the dad was quick to reply with a letter of his own. He did a fine job outlining the benefits his kids received on the trip. This dad gets it. He understands what real education is all about.

Yet there is something terribly wrong. Let’s review the good points this dad outlined in his letter, then wrap it up with the problem and a possible solution.

This dad starts his letter by saying his kids learned as much in five days with family as they would in an entire year in school. He goes on to say that the experiences gained during these five days cannot be duplicated in a classroom. He accurately describes some of these as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

He also notes that his kids are ahead of their peers because they learned some history during these five days that the school wouldn’t teach them for another year or so. (Although I doubt the school will include the significance of religious freedom and its place in the formation of American or how to apply these concepts to present-day issues.)

This bold dad goes on to say that he wouldn’t hesitate to take his kids out of school for another few days to learn about real life. At this point I want to ask why in the world he would ever send them back!

For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. (James 1:23–24, NLT)

Here’s what I really want to say to this dad: “Dude, you just homeschooled your kids for five days and didn’t even realize it. And you did a great job! So why stop now? Why place them back in a setting where they won’t learn about everything you’ve articulated so well: dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history, culinary arts, and physical education?”

This dad concludes his letter by saying that he appreciates the efforts of the wonderful teachers and staff and cherishes the education his kids are receiving at Rydal Elementary School. He even proclaims, “We truly love our school.”

Whoa! Time out. How can you say you appreciate the education your kids are receiving when you just said they learned more in five days away than they will learn in a whole year at school? I’m sorry, but this is double talk. This dad is like the man who looks in a mirror, and when he walks away immediately forgets what he looks like.

This man and his family should stop and seriously consider homeschooling full-time, and here’s why:

  1. Kids Can Learn at Their Own Pace

He said his kids learned more in five days than they will ever learn during an entire year in school. Clearly he sees the value of learning at one’s own pace, especially when the pace is accelerated. I’m sure he’s not thinking the kids can take the rest of the year off just because they were so efficient these five days. Some settings are simply more suitable to learning than sitting quietly on a hard chair while staring at a whiteboard for the better part of a day.

I’ve had similar educational experiences with my own kids during our homeschooling journey. One observation I’ve made on “educational vacations” is that kids are eager to learn, but they don’t rush. In other words, they aren’t trying to make sure they learn more during this time than they would at home or in a school; they simply see the application so clearly and want to learn as much as possible while on site.

  1. Families Should Stay Together

The kind of vacation this dad put together for his family was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And families should get to share these moments together. Margaret James is quoted as saying, “At the end of life, it’s the laughter, the tears, the shared joys, and the shared heartaches we remember. The wealth, the work, the trials, and the problems are as nothing. It’s the quality of our days and the people we share them with that makes the difference.” Wise words, indeed.

  1. Parents Are Actually In Charge

If your kids are in private or public school, you have no say over the selection of curriculum and staff or the formation of the school calendar. Mom and Dad, let’s be clear. Your kids and their education are your responsibility. Therefore, I say take back some control of the calendar and prioritize family activities ahead of the school’s schedule. Who knows? If you do this for very long or with a little enthusiasm, you just might find yourself ready to jump into the deep end of the pool and start homeschooling.

I have to say that I like the attitude, moxie, and spirit of this dad. You have to be a bit of a rebel with an independent spirit to homeschool. So to this brave father and other parents who are fed up with our failing institutions and made of a similar mettle, I say, “Feel the freedom, and go for it. If there were ever a time to homeschool, it is now!”

If you are already homeschooling, what did it take for you to get started? Was it a two-by-four over the head or something more gentle? If you find yourself straddling the fence, what would it take for you to start homeschooling? A lightning strike? An earthquake? Or a small, still voice from God?

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!


If you enjoyed this devotional by Davis Carman, enjoy reading his devotional entitled A Brief Theology of Time.

Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! 

Davis’s four books include: Good Morning, Godbased on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Pathan ABC book based on Psalm 119, In the Beginning, based on the Creation account in Genesis, and Psalms to Know Early.

© 2017 Davis Carman


A Dad's Letter to the School Is Great, But...



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