There always seems to be some point in our lives when we have seemingly run out of options. I'm only guessing that was the scenario for the four families who contacted me in the last four days. For the record, three of them were within 7 hours of each other on Friday. I spoke directly with two parents - one who showed up unannounced at the DRC-Canton door at 8 am Friday (while I was working on Admin "stuff" and before I had finished drinking my coffee). I also fielded a phone call (minutes after that parent left) from an advocate at a local organization that recommends us to families regularly and then, later that evening, responded to a google form consultation request.
Both parents I spoke with directly described sad, angry, and frustrated kids in crisis. And in each case, the parents felt helpless, disheartened, and fearful for their child's future. I could describe most conversations I've had with parents over the past eight years in precisely the same way. They felt like they were out of options and were feeling pretty hopeless.
We often say (sometimes provocatively) that school is optional. We really mean every desperately unhappy, anxious, and depressed kid should leave school - now. It is no longer a safe option for them.
Don't wait it out to see if they can make it to the end of the year. Don't say, "it is only a phase." Or "middle school is always rough. They need to toughen up" And, even, "if they could switch classrooms, I think they would do better with a different teacher. They were fine until this year." Treat this situation as seriously as any other life or death emergency.
Kids who join us after years of struggling - for any (and all the) reasons, often take a very long time to "deschool" (detox). To be clear, this process is exceedingly painful to watch. It may take a year or two before they completely understand that they can take charge of their education and follow their interests wherever they lead. I try to convey that the sooner they leave school, the less time that process will take.
When I say that I can get a child out of an unhappy school situation in ten minutes - that is quite literally how long it takes me to switch out names and addresses in the letter of intent (LOI) to homeschool and print it (or send it to a parent via email). The Individualized Home Instruction Plan is the next step and takes a bit more time, thoughtfulness, and an in-depth conversation with the child; however, families legally have ten days to get it to the school after sending the LOI.
This may sound like I am cavalier or unfeeling about this monumental decision. In fact, I feel deeply for every single one of these kids and their families and often carry their stories around in my heart for a while. The cultural norm of school is so deeply ingrained - I understand the difficulty of hearing the words "pull them out of school now" and the emotions they bring forward.
Ultimately, the decision to opt-out of school rests with each child and their family. I will always present Deep Root Center as an option. Because I remain steadfast in my dedication to the fundamental philosophy of non-coercion that we are founded on.
Yet, I always feel like I have failed a child when they and their family decide to stick it out in school.
On the other side, it will never get old (and I will never take it lightly) to hear a parent say, after asking me to write a letter of Intent and IHIP, "I feel like you have just lifted an enormous weight off my chest. I don't know how to thank you."
No, this is not about "scoring" more kids for DRC. I will continue to do this (as long as I can) to help as many kids in the NoCo - whether they homeschool (unschool) on their own or join us at Deep Root Center. My only goal is to help kids - who are unbearably miserable - get around the enormous obstruction (we call school) blocking their path to autonomy and authenticity - and pure awesomeness.
Scenes from Bio Lab this past week.
Weekly Creative Meditation
DRC accepts new members throughout the academic year. If you feel like you are running out of options - get in touch today.
We are still seeking vendors for Our Party in the Park on May 21st.
Also, do you know a creative or business-minded youth who would like an opportunity to sell or promote their art, products, or services? We have a special vendor fee of $10.00/space just for them. Submit an online form today and send payment to Deep Root Center in Canton.
And we are still collecting bottles and cans for the DRC-East Bottle Drive. DRC Canton at 48 Riverside Dr. is a drop-off point. Drop the bags in front of the garage. Thank you!