My oldest is a first grader in public school. I am as happy as I can imagine myself being with her school, and she is a very good student. She is eager to please, a good reader, and generally obedient. Sort of built to be a student. The kind of child who most homeschooling parents will say can do well in school, but that their child needs special attention at home. She is absolutely NOT gifted, merely bright. She has plenty of friends and gets along well with her teachers. And yet…
She is gone from 8:30, when I drop her off, until 4:20 when she gets off the bus. Two days a week she has an activity after school, either ballet or religious education. On those days she gets home around 6.
The hours that she is is home she drives me a little nuts. I’m not sure if this is built up energy from being forced to sit all day, negative influences from her peers, or just her age, but even since she has started school I have noticed a huge drop in her behavior at home. She is perfect for her teachers, and behaves well when bribed, but I see a lot of her natural goodness fading.
She does occasionally not want to go to school, and will pretend to have an earache or stomachache to get out of it. It makes me wonder if something is going on that she is not telling me about, which makes me wonder why I am sending her away all day to such a big unknown at such a young age.
I have hinted somewhat at the idea of homeschooling to my husband, who is firmly against it. He thinks it is important for her to have relationships outside the home, that she would be bored all day, that children need a regular influence outside of their mother. And it is true, I suppose. I suspect he is just afraid people would think he was weird and that both of our families would be horrified (which is also true). If it were the norm, he would love it.
And in a way, I believe in public schools. I was very happy at mine, and appreciate the relationships I had with my elementary school teachers. I wonder if it is different because I was at a magnet school that had the best teachers in the county. I truly loved many of my teachers and remember things that they taught me to this day. Also my parents are a little weird and I definitely needed some outside influences. For many, many children, public school is their best and only chance at success.
And still, my heart longs for slow mornings, for library time spent reading classics instead of Magic Animal Friends, for lunches at home, activities done during the day instead of some time around dinner and dark. I would love to get the best of my children’s day, not just time to supervise dinner, homework, and bed. I would love to have no questions about what goes on during eight hours of the day, and know that my daughter is being treated kindly and being kind herself.
I know what type of homeschooler I would be. (Charlotte Mason.) And what math work books I would use (Singapore, and I torture the poor little tyke with it in the summer.) This year would we would be studying Ancient Rome, because she is showing natural interest in it, and learning to use a telescope to observe planets and constellations. She also likes the presidents, and learning about wars, so we could be learning Revolutionary War history. We would have a big history timeline that was added to bit by bit (she has a small one now), and would spend a lot of time outside, and doing legos and puzzles, and have ballet during the day at the homeschool class. And swim lessons during the day, and piano lessons during the day, no more rushed and horrible evenings of changing in a hurry, shoving a dinner down our throats. Afternoons would be for reading, chores, and outside time.
It will never happen. But I will always be a homeschooler at heart.