Thursday, May 7, 2009


"My education was only interrupted by my schooling." Sir Winston Churchill

"Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality." Beatrix Potter

Make me think, those quotes do. Make me think really hard.

My little gal will start Kindergarten in the fall. She'll be 5 1/2. I hate it. I hate that I will have to send her off from 9 til 3 every other day. I hate that she will have to sit inside a classroom all day long. I hate that she will have to be told what to do, what to draw, what to color, what to read, what to think. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I am no stranger to homeschooling. I taught my oldest three at home for 3 short years. I loved it. 2/3s of them loved it. (Hi Jen). I thought that it was the very best way to learn. The very best way to live.

So why now do I hesitate? Why am I sending little Athena to pulic elementary school? Why indeed? I ask myself the same question every time it crosses my mind. My answers? Not so convincing. Well, she is an only child. She needs to be with other kids. Good reason? Maybe. Maybe not. Second? I will get some much wanted time to myself. Time for me. Good reason? Um, no.

Oh, what to do what to do. Anyone out there home school an only child? Anyone out there with an opinion? Anyone out there at all?


Dawn said...

I didn't know about this blog Michelle...thanks for letting me know about it. I kept looking at your other one.
My kids are spaced far apart in age, so I remember thinking about the only child thing often when my daughter was preschool aged. I put her in dance lessons as a way to be around other kids. Are there any home-school co-ops where you live? I just think that if you really want to home school, there could be other ways to provide interaction with other kids for your daughter.

Melody said... does she feel to you, at home, right now? I mean if you've got a good thing going then I, personally, don't see any reason to change it. That doesn't mean that you can't make the decision to do so 3 years from now or sometime next month. If things aren't feeling well right now or fulfilling for everyone involved then you probably need to do some re-evaluating. And that can mean any number of things.

There is nothing wrong with wanting some time to yourself. Goodness knows that I have my days of thinking "You know I could just send you all to school and go do whatever the heck I want!” But with some creativity, I'm sure there is a way to have both.
I can see where the only child thing might be tricky. Though I've also seen situations where families thrived while homeschooling an only child. I've always felt like with my little tribe I could wave off any naysayers with a "see, socialization built right in." How does she handle large groups? How does she get on with other children? Would she be able to "fall in line" in a highly structured situation or would she struggle? Do you have a community around you that could support you if you decided to keep her home? Could you build one up? I think these are all important questions and ones that only you can answer.

As for the almighty socialization, well, in my book it's not all it's cracked up to be. The way that schools are set up to function leads to, if anything, a terrible lack of healthy communication. I think it's inevitable when you have a large group of children with only a few overburdened adults. Group mentality in little ones can turn ugly fast and very often go so far as to be traumatic. I'm not sure what's gained or learned from that. We'd all like to think that we could send our kids off to school where they can run laughing through fields at recess and skip rope and just have a jolly old time. But I know that wasn't my school experience and I have yet to meet the person who's experience it was. For most people "socialization" is a process of being classed and judged based on what you do or wear or who you hang out with. Then trying to learn how to fit into that role as best as possible without making any waves. Learning who you need to pretend to be in order to be accepted. At best. For many, many children there is also being teased and bullied and sadly, very sadly, all too often and for girls especially (as I understand it, 1 out of 4) molestation or other inappropriate sexual incidents. Again I'm not sure what any of this teaches, except perhaps to keep the proverbial stiff upper lip and shut up and take it, whatever "it" may be. Which is, oddly enough, not a quality that we tend to value in adults!

I personally believe that there is far more to be gained from social interactions taking place in a more controlled environment. Even if they take place far less often.

I know that in my situation we have a small group of friends where both the adults and the children are friends. We work hard at modeling healthy communication and helping our kids to learn positive ways of working out their differences and dealing with upsets. I feel like that's really empowering for them. I also really appreciate the fact that the other parents are all approachable for my children. They feel comfortable speaking with them and I like knowing that there are other adults they can go to if they need anything. This is what works for us. But it took years for us to build up this network, small though it is. And my little ones were fairly isolated for a long time. It probably puts them a bit behind the curve with making friends, though they really did seem to catch on to that quickly, but they all have a strong sense of self that doesn't disappear when they outside of the house and I find that encouraging. We also try to spend time with people of all different ages. There is a lot to be learned in these interactions as well.

I could go on, but I think I'm going to stop talking now! You probably didn't anticipate a book when you asked for my opinion. :)

I think you should do what feels right to you and find a way to make it work from there.

Good luck!

Jen said...

"Second? I will get some much wanted time to myself. Time for me. Good reason?" HECK YES!

Do what you feel will work for both you and Athena. You'll find ways to socialize her, including weekly visits from Eden and the odd weekend with Abby. 4H Club, swimming, gymnastics. There are plenty of ways.

Lizz said...

I have tried lots of different educational approaches. I am really drawn to Waldorf and would send all of my kids there full-time if I could afford it. I wish with all my heart that Waldorf schools were acessible to everyone as I believe it it adding to classism to only allow those who can afford it and I know it was not set up this way by Steiner. Honeschooling is my compromise. I have always found that I have more to offer than hoping that the programs out there would meet my standards. I have huge issues with public schooling. It's a factory to me, producing workers and not enliven and enriching the souls of people.

We have a neighbor boy close to my daughter's age. I have seen him a total of 3 times in the almost 3 years we have lived here. Children should be outside!

Anonymous said...

I loved the homeschooling years. I think of many of the qualities that I possess now, the skills I developed, and the fact that I got to learn in a way that suited me and I think I'm better for it. I'm glad we were only homeschooled for a few years, because it was important to develop those social skills. There are quite a few things that I consider my strong character points, my niches, are things that I learned during homeschooling. I think that she is so bright. Isn't the reason you homeschooled us because we weren't being challenged enough? I would suggest letting her go to school, see how she does, and maybe later on in the school years (not high school though, give her the option.- jess