Snark alert: This post is considerably more, eh, acidic than my typical personal post – ye of the weak stomach and/or wobbly temper, leave now or forever hold your peace.
Truth: I didn’t lie to ALL of you. Some of you already know my guilty [or not-so-guilty] secret. Especially if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time.
Brief backstory: my boy is five right now. His birthday is in June. All his friends [at least the ones that are also five] are in kindergarten. Lots of their moms have asked me why he’s not also in kindergarten – instead of telling the truth and dealing with the inevitable awkward conversation that follows, I usually tell them, “Oh he’s a June birthday, so we kept him home an extra year so he won’t be a full year younger than all other kids in his grade. Better to be older than younger, right?”
Admittedly, this is only half a lie. Because it’s half of the truth. I AM keeping him home, and he WOULD be a year older by the time I start him in public school, but the whole truth is…
He’s NEVER going to public school.
[whew] Glad to have that off my chest.
The truth is, I DON’T want him to have the typical public school experience.
The truth is, I don’t want him to sit at a desk for 6-9 hours a day at the tender age of five. Or six. Or… ever, really.
The truth is, I don’t want him anywhere near Common Core, regardless of the awesomeness of the teachers that are teaching it. I don’t trust it any further than I can throw it. But that’s another episode entirely, most likely entitled “Common Core vs. Hitler Youth: A Venn Diagram”.
The truth is, I don’t want him to have hours and hours of homework to do after having been at
the office his desk school all day, including the commute to and from work school itself.
The truth is, I don’t want him to have the public school social experiences either. I don’t think that the best teacher of social graces is 100-400 other kids his age, supervised or otherwise. Between cliques, class gaps/warfare, hypervigilant-but-hands-off teachers, zero-tolerance policies for everything, and bullies, I think I can find a WAY better alternative for him to have enriching, meaningful social experiences. [And no, it is not the job of bullies, or as some people put it, his classmates, to teach him about how to handle bullies – that’s the job of his martial arts instructor.]
What I DO want:
- short burst, play-based, flexible scheduling and lesson plans
- one-on-one teacher-kid time with him [as the norm, not once or twice a day/week]
- classics-based, moral-driven, repetitive-yet-hands-on curricula
- secular curricula with the freedom for gospel-based discussions inspired by our learning material, but not dictated by it
- to have several hours of unstructured free play time every single day
- to spend as much time with all of my children together and individually as possible, rather than sending them away to people and a system that I don’t know but must implicitly and explicitly trust
- to be in charge of [or at least have a direct, considerable influence over] what he is taught and by whom, to the end that his education is customized, nay, tailor-made to suit his learning needs and styles perfectly.
Oh, and to not have to worry or even think once about standardized tests of any kind ever.
Common objections I’ve heard: “He’s expressing a desire for friends.” “Don’t be paranoid.” “You’re ill, you can’t teach him properly.” “It will be so much easier to just send him.” “He’s asking to go – he wants to be like other kids his age, why not just let him go?”
Or, my personal favorite: “What about socialization?”
First: I went to public school. I begged for YEARS to come home, and for help/more outlets for making friends. [Literally, I had NO friends in school who were my age until I was a teenager. And after I changed schools. And states. Like, I even tried to be friends with the awkward, socially-inept handicapable kids who nobody else would talk to, thinking we’d have something in common. They told me to get lost.] My parents did their best, literally everything they could have done EXCEPT pull me out of school and give me the educational/social experience I was asking for and so desperately needed. So the argument that my kid is asking for it is complete bunk. I mean, how many of you let your kids make their own major life choices when they’re five? You don’t even let them pick whether or not to eat dinner or wipe their bums or take a bath, for crying out loud!
Second:This is probably the most important one – I just WANT him to be with me! He’s the love of my life [tied, of course, with his siblings and my dear husband] – I love spending time with him and being such a big part of his life; it would be wrenching for both of us to send him away. So, put simply, it’s the best fit! It’s what makes both of us happiest, it’s simplest, it’s funnest- case closed!
Third: I’m his mother. It’s my prerogative to be as paranoid as I want over anything and everything regarding my little chickadees. And until I KNOW that they can advocate for and defend themselves on their own account when I’m not standing right over them [insert quip about predators, bullies, shootings, other hot-button issues here], they only go with/to people and agencies in whom I can put complete and utter trust, based on more than “It’s a public school. It’s fine.” Call me crazy, but I would prefer that the educators and caretakers of my precious ones merit more than a flippant “it’s fine” as a recommendation. [No, this is not a solicitation for anyone to start singing the praises of their local school – #1) I’m sure it’s fine, #2) it’s not the one that serves my area, so even if it is painted with gold rainbows and the teachers have fairy wings, it doesn’t help me any, #3) I don’t care. I want my kid home with me.]
Fourth: Yes, I’ve got health problems. Yes, we’re poorer than squirrels in winter. Yes, it would probably be less work for me [in the immediate, anyway] to just take the
normal easy standard road and ship him off to day care kindergarten, but… we come back to the “I want to” argument. Closely followed by the “I’m his mother” argument. Closely followed again by the “The best things in life are worth sacrificing for” argument. Yeah, it’s hard. Lots of things in life are hard. I can hack it. It’s what I want. End of story.
Fifth: Ah, socialization. I love how everybody just magically “knows” that that’s a thing, [an assertion which I vigorously dispute] despite it NEVER having been a subject or topic ever discussed or taught in public school, and yet somehow most people leap to the conclusion that the only possible environment that can produce a well-adjusted, socially-graceful, perfectly normal person, is in a public school. Call me insane, but I’m pretty sure public school does NOT have the market cornered on normal-ness. Take the next 10 seconds and think of the religious weirdo kids you knew in elementary school whose parents never let them play over at your house, and they looked like they’d just escaped from a Little House on the Prairie rerun. Normal-ness starts and finishes at home, with the parents and the family. No friends, public school attendance does NOT equate to a proper social upbringing.
[takes own blood pressure] Yes, I have strong feelings about this. Largely because in my mind, it relates to and affects/is affected by almost everything else in life, and it’s something that I have great desires to get right for my kids. That is to say, as “right” as a parent can ever get/do by their kids.
The end of this lovely
saga novel rant schpeal-thingy is that I love my babies. And just like every other parent who loves their child[ren], I want to do what I believe is best for them and for my family. I know of lots of other parents who feel very differently about what’s right for their family, but what we do NOT disagree on is that we love our kids, and we both want to do what is best for them. AND. We all vehemently oppose anybody else trying to tell us that they know better than we do for our own kids, and would readily relieve any would-be do-gooders who tried to interfere with our younglings of their eyes, ears or testicles [assuming they have any of the above] with a rusty spoon.
I’d love to hear from all you parents out there who are doing your best to make the best possible choices for your kids! What things are you doing that you feel are enriching your lives and the lives of your kids? What do you love about the life you’ve made for yourself?