I consider myself a reasonably, no, well-informed, interactive parent. I spend a good deal of time thinking about, planning and doing the things that I think are right for my child, for my family and for me.  Now, I don’t always succeed.  The choices aren’t always right and I often lose my resolve but I always pick myself back up, shake myself off and try again.

I take pride (which goeth before the fall, I know) in the fact that I have spent and spend time getting to know and truly understand my son and who he “is”.  I try to make choices which are right for him.  In this place, at this time.  When the circumstances change, or when I’m wrong, I try to adapt.

He has already lived a challenging life and there is only more to come.  I mean, he has a mother who is only just discovering who she “is”, a father who was distant for most of his current lifespan, AND a step-father who keeps himself aloof because of jealousy over his father – and probably because of some issues stemming from his own parenting.  All this in addition to the basic challenges which are inherent in two-home families.  The kids have to adapt to two sets of rules (at least) and two sets of values.  Integrating the ideas is not easy.  I am trying to help him approach the situation as a learning tool.  When it is time for him to choose his own path, he will have first hand knowledge of multiple ways to handle situations.  In that knowledge resides the ability to make a true choice. 

And, yes, I know that the challenges he faces are not nearly as bad as the challenges faced by many other children the world over.  Neither were mine.  But they are much worse than many other children the world over – and much worse than they should have been.  But there it is…life.  I understand it to be my job to minimize the impact of the challenges on his overall development and create an atmosphere which allows him to grow and flourish and truly be able to come into his own – faith, personality, spirit, direction in life…to be his own person.  People talk about those who walk outside the mainstream as “marching to the beat of their own drum.”  Bryce has created a whole new instrument and I am making it my mission, at this time in my life, to be sure that he keeps his instrument and learns how to play it and keep it in tune.

So what, you ask, does any of this have to do with virtual school?  I have chosen to continue his fourth grade education by enrolling him in a virtual school.  What I find interesting and a little disturbing, is the looks on the faces of many people when I tell them of the choice I have made.  We have made.  As a family.  It’s funny, people I don’t know awfully well don’t bother me when they get that incredulous, almost contemptuous look on their face.  I figure they have no clue and just go on with my life. 

No…what really bothers me are the people who know me.  The people who have seen me parent and STILL react badly when I tell them of my decision.  They act almost as if they think I made this decision on some flight of caprice.  Remember what I said in the first two paragraphs about thoughtful parenting?  They don’t and they’ve watched me carry it out!  I took over a year to make this decision  I spoke with teachers, other parents, people who are important to me, people important to him.  I researched all the school options; I checked private schools.  This seems like the best fit for us right now.  I also find it disturbing that I feel the need to defend our decision to the masses.  It is really none of their business yet I feel as if I have to convince them of my decision.  I’m working on that even now. 

So…we’re going to give it a shot.  Yes, I will pay attention to his socialization.  Yes, I will limit the computer time as much as possible.  Yes, he will still play sports and sing in the church choir and go on field trips and take music lessons and make trips to the library and all those things that further a child’s education and enrich his life.  He will probably experience more of those things as we travel to museums and places which we would not have been offered the time to consider with traditional school.  He will also have avenues opened to him to communicate with other children and people who reach beyond the boundaries of his immediate physical world.  He will not be bound by convention or the people with whom he happens to meet in a certain place.  I want to help him explore all there is to explore in the world and that begins here.  A novel way of learning and connecting – playing chess with kids around the country and learning new languages can lead to an understanding of different cultrues, religions, ways of life and increase tolerance. 

Yes.  It will be difficult; this represents a fundamental change in how we live life.  There will be challenges I have not yet considered as carefully as I have tried to anticipate every obstacle.  But I think, together, we can work to overcome them and that, in itself, is a lesson of life.  I know some of my ideas sound like far-off dreams but every dream starts with a first step…

HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!