When the school is interested in the child

Three things that blew my mind after we left the school system

Heather McLeod


When my son’s new best friend announced their family would be homeschooling in September, it was the final straw.

My socially awkward kiddo had worked so hard to build that friendship.

We’d already been through this in grade three. His closest friend left to homeschool and suddenly he had no project partner, no default recess playmate … He struggled and stumbled through his worst school year to date.

And now he would lose his new bestie.

I couldn’t let this happen again.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

I decided to pull my son out of our bricks-and-mortar school and homeschool him, too.

Within a week, after obsessive research and consultation, I applied to a public “distance learning school.” I also arranged regular school-year activities, including weekly hikes, with his best friend’s parents.

Despite some initial angst, I am increasingly excited about our plan for September. In the weeks since we signed up for our new school experience, three big moments have affirmed my decision:

1. We got to choose his teacher.

From kindergarten to grade four, we’ve relied on our local school’s judgment to place my son with the best teacher for him, with the right mix of kids.

In the parent world, we whisper about how one teacher is strict, another teacher loves science, that teacher has a huge heart … But we don’t get to choose which one our kid spends his days with.

This summer, once my application to our new school was accepted, we got to pick our top five “learning consultants” to work with, in order of preference. I filtered their interests with keywords, analyzed their smiles and studied their bios.

Never before have I known so much about a teacher, not even after ten months of someone teaching my son.

I rejected red flags (“traditional family values”) and was able to consider my son’s interests (e.g. activism, Indigenous wisdom) as well as my own (e.g. classical education).

Then, after I submitted my top five choices, the teachers could, in turn, approve or decline my request. They read about my son…