I never thought I’d be questioning the institutional form of schooling.
I went to school, I turned out sort of OK, and I kind of liked it (the fun parts, anyway).
Children go to school and school is a necessary tool for learning, right?
There was no reason to question whether my kids would go to school or not.
But then, with my daughter’s 5th birthday quickly approaching, something changed. I wasn’t so sure anymore. It was almost annoying I had to think so hard about something so simple.
I had the option to do what everyone else did: send my 5-year-old to school. We have a pretty decent public school here and a number of excellent private school options.
Or I could just listen to my gut and keep her home…?
I honestly felt like my daughter would do well at school. She is smart, friendly, outspoken, and a pretty competitive extrovert. She has no health issues.
But the more I learned about the school system, the less I wanted my kids to be part of it.
I guess, maybe…
If school days weren’t so long, I’d feel better?
When I was growing up, school days were much shorter and our free time much broader.
I couldn’t bear the thought of having my curious, energetic, happy 5-year-old spending close to 7 hours a day at school, 5 days a week. That sounds like prison. Except for 5-year-olds.
Where was time for other activities? For family? For herself?!
She might have been able to handle it (meaning she would probably have no choice but to get used to it), but it seemed unnecessary and unhealthy at that age.
Other issues kept emerging…
I didn’t like what I was hearing from other parents.
Also, certain policies and school guidelines left me speechless – e.g. the (increasingly common) SILENT LUNCH.
Aside from inmates receiving almost identical lunches as school kids (though I hear that prisoners get a larger serving of fruits/vegetables than innocent growing children), I’m positive that you don’t have to gulp down your jailhouse lunch in silence and hurry like you typically have to in the school cafeteria.
Digging deep and researching, I had a hard time believing that COMMON CORE was implemented to benefit the children.
I would have loved for my daughter to experience more play-based learning at her age.
Not the “drill and kill” style I kept hearing about.
Early childhood is a crucial developmental stage in a child’s life where rapid changes in cognitive ability play their part.
But we’re not all exactly the same, right?
Just as humans don’t grow in the exact same pattern, their cognitive and social-emotional development varies as well. Yet we’re attempting to mold our kids into the exact same shape at the exact same time.
- Could that backfire?
- Would this leave some kids frustrated, stressed out, and overwhelmed?
- Could that lower their self-esteem or diminish their natural ability and desire to learn?
The more I thought about it, the more I was sure of what I actually wanted for my kids…
It was MORE freedom and LESS school.
What I wanted for them was quite simple…
- I wanted them to be able to be kids for as long as they wished, focusing on who they were, not on who others viewed them as. No rushing into the feeling of having to grow up too quickly, no pressure of having to conform to peers.
- I wanted them to stay curious and to keep on asking questions.
- I wanted them to stay playful and creative, spending as much time outdoors as possible. Climbing trees and building forts, playing, learning, discovering and exploring, doing what kids their age should be doing.
- I wanted them to keep on getting lost in their boundless world of imagination where miraculous things happen and extraordinary ideas are created.
- I wanted them to have the freedom to learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. Conveyor belt education doesn’t support that.
- I didn’t want learning to become a chore.
- I wanted to be there for them, to help them feed their hungry minds.
- No, I didn’t want to shield them from the real world. On the contrary, I wanted to keep their eyes open. I wanted to make them aware and show them the real world that they might otherwise miss out on while spending long hours in the classrooms.
I guess I knew at that point that I wanted to homeschool. But…
HOW does one actually do it?
Is there a homeschool manual out there???
I questioned myself if I could really do it. If I was good enough.
I couldn’t help but wonder if my kids would really BENEFIT from being homeschooled or if I was just sitting on a cloud of ILLUSION and setting us all on a path to FAILURE.
How would I actually teach my children? Me? It’s not like I’m a teacher!? What if I mess up? I’m certainly not perfect?!?
So I went back in time and paid attention to my own experiences…
I aced through school.
I’ve always had good grades (with the exception of German – sorry Germans, I’m not meant to speak your language. I tried!).
I was able to memorize easily and consequently made good grades.
But I didn’t always understand the concept.
The truth is…
I was taught to MEMORIZE, not learn. And I was rewarded for just that.
My grades weren’t relative to what I really knew.
In the end I only retained the content of subjects I’d been passionate about (or at least some areas of certain subjects) while the rest managed to quickly disappear in the black hole of my brain.
For the first time, I seriously considered homeschooling.
I decided to go with my gut feeling and against all odds and social norms.
It felt right.
And, sometimes, that’s all you really need.
We certainly had the option to try our public school and see where it takes us, but the quality of education just didn’t seem to justify the effort. Private schools seemed expensive and not significantly better in the areas of concern, so they were crossed off the list.
In the end, it was my disagreement with Common Core that helped me focus on my priorities and do what felt right for our family.
And, here we are…