Butterfly's Birthday

Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Homeschooling. That is how I want to bring up my daughter. I read and learnt a lot about the subject and I am still very much trying to figure out my way in the big umbrella called "homeschooling" (and yes, dear spell check, there is such a thing!), because there are many different approaches (I do lean towards unschooling but I don't think I'm quite an unschooler). How will the learning to read and write go? Do I teach her letters? Do I let her discover all by herself? etc. things that I am constantly thinking about.
And then, the fact that this is how I want to bring up my daughter, does not mean that I have to justify it to anyone or to explain my reasons. That does not mean I don't have my reasons, more probably in the zone of I am not good at orally and under pressure saying why and/or why it is good for my daughter.
So my mother a week or two ago said something about feeling sorry for my daughter because I do not allow to teach her. And today my brother in law. He started with the issue EVERYONE brings up when talking about homeschooling - the child's social life. So I should send my child to school, against all my beliefs etc, for the only reason of having a social life?! Because only a school can offer a child a social life?! Yes, take 40 (or 30 or whatever the number is today) kids and shove them into a classroom and they will all have a happy social life! (please ignore all those stories about kids being bullied in schools). I myself was 12 years in the school system (not counting kindergarten..) and I had a rotten social life. So no, social life is not a (good enough) reason [in my eyes, of course] to send a child to school, and school is not a guarantee for having a social life! And yes, there are other ways to be social (like homeschooling groups).
Then he went on to the fact that I should explore my other options. Two problems with that: a. I do know quite a lot about my other options and what kind of school I would have liked my daughter to go to if I had sent her  (and if I had money, it is so expensive!). I might have not weighed them enough or given them that extra thought, but that's because - b. I WANT TO HOMESCHOOL MY CHILD.
And all along this conversation, I am telling him that I do not want to defend myself and what I intend for my child's education, and he goes on and on, saying something about not being able to explain to me ...... Excuse me! You can't explain it to me?? Like you have all the answers and you know the only way it should be done?! Because let me tell you, even in the school system there are many approaches, many different ways.Take for example parents who teach their kids to read from as early as possible, a two year old who can recognize a few words, versus the Waldorf approach who don't allow to teach any letters to kids, let alone reading, till when they are 7 yrs old.
And that brings us vaguely to benchmarks and testing. He wanted to know how do I know that she will be doing what she is supposed to do, schoolwise, in her age. But I don't want to copy school at home! (btw, there are homeschoolers who do, but not me). I don't want to test her or to be worried she should do X at a certain age [I am all against testing which I believe is much more for the teacher's sake than for the pupil, but I didn't want to get into that with him - that's why I said at the top: vaguely.. because I don't believe there is an age where you should do this or that [I don't want to get into unschooling too much here as this is not the purpose of this post. I do hope one day to have tabs, one of which will be for homeschooling etc.].
He had a hard time with that. And the the idea that I think I can teach my own child.... I have enough knowledge and intelligence and resources (the internet! what a great age we live in!) to "teach" her* throughout elementary (which here is until, including, 6th grade) and probably most of junior high (grades 7,8,9). But then I put the word teach in quote marks as I more vision us learning together (at least in the more advanced years).
What more did we have? Oh, that if 90% of the people send their kids to school then they must all be right. Oh my, I am the last person to do things because everyone does!!!
[on a side note I will add that I am tired of fighting, so if do get lucky and have another child, and if that child will be a boy, I will cir.cum.cise him. Not because I think he should be or that it's good for him etc. but because I can't be fighting my kids all my life. and by the way, knowing that (and a girl's name in case I have a second daughter. I now have names for a boy, a girl and a third name that can be either in case I have twins of the same sex, lol) was what let me start ttc again.]
But back to the 90% I am very unconventional. Not to mention the fact that most people send their kids to school out of convenience, because that is how it is done, and not because they gave it any special thought
So yes, I do want to homeschool my child. No, I don't have to explain to you, that does not mean I haven't  thought about it or that my child will suffer. Yes, there are pluses and minuses as there are in any other decision. And no, I am not selfish, thinking on;y about myself, ignoring my child's needs just because I intend to do it differently from you.
Rant ended.

* on a parenting forum when a question of homeschooling was brought up once, someone was quite insulted that homeschoolers think they know enough to teach the kids when teachers go and learn such and such years to become teachers. But the thing is, being a teacher in a classroom is much more than just teaching children! And I don't think homeschoolers think any bad of teachers, more of the school system. I am writing this side note because a. there are (some?) teachers who read this blog. And I want you to know that just because this is what I want to do, doesn't mean I think any less of you! (on the contrary  being a teacher in the class room is very hard work!!) and b. That discussion was some time ago but I remember being completely shocked at that remark, at that thought, I thought I might need to say something here...
P.S I did go to teacher's college...

I know this post is long already but can I talk a little about Butterfly? She is now so cuddly and gives kisses (she never really was the type). I just love it! [though she does a really rough Eskimo kiss, I have to take of my glasses, lol]. And then on the last few Mondays, what a warm reception I got from her!! [will add that on those Mondays my mum helped out so I came home to a girl who was waiting for me (usually the nanny brings her back when I come home or I pick her up at the nanny's) which probably was what made the difference, but still, it was nice!]
And speaking - while she is still probably very much behind on her speech, she is so much speaking and advancing! Not sure if I mentioned here but we have prepositions! (I was so waiting for them!!).
And sometimes we have funny things. like "I want" which would mean she wants something, and "I want" which would mean she DOES NOT want something (didn't you hear the little whine in the second one?? and yes, I am not always sure of it myself..). 
Though I will add that apparently she is not so much clear to other people as they seem to not understand her so much (what, you didn't understand that??). But then she is only starting to open up and talk to others.
And she amazes me with things she seems to know, like today she said that bees make honey. I really do not remember talking to her about that, nor does my mother (and as it was in English it must have been one of us), so from where does she know that?? She really is a great kid and I am so happy and so grateful to be her mother. 
And have to add from this morning (wrote last night but didn't get around to publishing..). The other day I bought some tehina cookies. My mother mentioned she'd like one so we gave her. This morning, early [my mother is NOT an early bird.. oh, and we live in a living unit in her house so we see her daily] my girl takes a cookie saying that Savta (grandmother) wants. When I tried explaining that it was too early, she was in tears! "But savta wants!". It was so hard not to laugh.

Writing this, my heart is out there for MN who had another miscarriage. That is just so unfair of the universe. So unfair. 


Tiara said...

Regarding your rant, only you know what is best for you & Butterfly. Don't let anyone else's judgements or opinions change your mind.

Little One said...

I loved this post. I am a teacher. And I wish I could homeschool SR, but I can't stay home to be with her. We have different philosophies about teaching, you and I, but I totally loved what you said about testing. Testing is not actually for the teachers - it's so we have something to justify our "marks" with the parents. The problem is, at least in elementary school, there is really no reason to give marks. Students learn to focus too much on the grade they are getting, rather than on how they can improve in whatever area they need to work on. There are much more practical ways to see if students have learned - after teaching a unit, give a culminating task that allows the student to apply their knowledge - but that still doesn't explain to parents what they know. Especially when the parents aren't in the classroom to see that their child is or isn't grasping concepts (or is too busy acting silly to learn what is being taught).

I respect that you want Butterfly to learn at her own pace. I teach SR constantly and she picks everything up - but that is because we have different outlooks. Do what is best for you and Butterfly. Don't let anyone tell you that you are wrong. And you're right, school is not necessarily "social" for everyone. Almost makes me think that "school" should be re-evaluated.

Luna said...

I am a trained Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten teacher and if we could not afford to send our children (when they appear) to a school that follows that approach, I would homeschool. I have lost faith in the mainstream system (which I used to work in). I know when I begin parenting that many people will think the way I want to bring my children up is odd, but I intend to stick to my guns. I think it is great that you intend to do the same for your little one.

Laraf123 said...

I was a classroom teacher before I was a mom. I remember viewing homeschooling parents with disdain. That was then, this is now. Today, knowing my children, I would absolutely homeschool them if it were possible financially. Many, many communities offer homeschool resources for getting children together with their peers. It's not as isolating as it once was.

I agree with you and other commenters. Do what is right for your family and don't listen to the critics.

Michal said...

I'll dare make a comment.

I remember the time I offered to send you homeschooling books and you thought I was teasing you as you didn't have kids. I wasn't.

I totally agree with, I think, everything you wrote - not testing, not caring about comparing to school curricula, losing faith with the system, learning WITH and not necessarily teaching, that you can definitely teach anything taught in school, that school is not an answer to everybody's social life, everything.

So I'll just shed a small light that maybe may help you understand the people around you - not so you do what they say, but maybe so you're not so mad with them, and maybe so you think in a new direction and have better answers for them.

I think part of the worry is that, especially as a single mom, your kids mostly have you as their role model and care taker (I say "mostly" and not "only" since they also have your family, but probably "only" is more accurate here). School is a way of letting kids explore the world from an additional perspective, and for the world to examine the kids in a different context.

It's not the only way to achieve these goals, but it's the way most people use, so they find it critical. I think this is what's at the base of your family's worry, even if they don't quite know how to explain it.
The "social life" they refer to, I believe they actually want to refer to getting out of the house and coping with the world outside home.
Letting the world examine the kid in a different context is something you probably don't relate to. But I assume that seeing your unconventional ways of upbringing, your family is worried that if something is wrong, no one can notice it if the kid is not in school.

The question is if you at all agree with these goals (letting kids explore the world from an additional perspective, and for the world to examine the kids in a different context).

I suggest you consider them in your mind, till you are either sure you disagree with them, or you find other ways to achieve them.

MookiePie said...

Having my education degree, that I don't use at my job :( I would love to homeschool as well. I think if I ever brought that up at work they'd laugh at me. We've had three people who were homeschooled come through our place of work, one who actually worked in our group. They were all very socially akward. However, the girls that live next door were homeschooled as well and are both attending college now. Very opposite, parties at their house every weekend and some athletic game various week/end nights as well.
There are also socially akward kids who go to public/private schools as well as the more "popular" kids. Then there are kids who socialize better in smaller settings, like myself, who are in scouts or art classes or sports that fit more towards likes. That are done outside of school and any kids can join. So there are plenty of ways for socialization.
Ok, now I'm rambling and losing my train of thought--darn crazy mixed up work schedule. So I'll stop here ;)