Just a warning… in case you haven’t noticed, my inner hippie is coming out more and more. If you aren’t ready for more of my earth mama ideas, you may want to stop reading here.
For the last six months, I have been thinking about homeschooling my kids. A Lot. We’ve decided to discontinue preschool for Lucas and do “homeschool preschool” next year, and possibly continue Pre-K and even Kindergarten as well. For some reason, I just can’t get it out of my mind. Maybe it is our ridiculous society and the fact that I can’t stand the idea of my boys being taught what to think, do, and believe by someone I don’t even know, and with a curriculum that is designed for the masses in a classroom of more than thirty students. Maybe it is the thought of them sitting at the lunch table like I did many years ago, amongst friends, eating fish sticks, french fries, and nachos covered with unnatural orange cheese. Maybe it’s because of the language I hear our neighborhood boys using, who can’t be older than 9 or 10 years old, while I’m at the park with my little ones. Maybe it is because of all the experiences I remember having at school and how I feel they shaped me as I was growing up. Or maybe I just want to protect their innocence a little longer, and let them learn the way they are naturally inclined to.
One thing that I always have and always will do is let my kids explore their world, their way. They choose what they want to play with and what they like to do. We don’t have many limits in our house, other than those of safety, respect, and what mom needs to maintain her sanity. I let my boys jump on the couch, rearrange furniture to make forts, feed the dog and cat five times a day, operate the automatic sprinklers in our yard, take apart electronic gadgets, paint themselves – rather than paper – with finger paint, empty the tissue box one piece at a time, bring the kiddie pool in the kitchen when it’s raining outside, and many other things, mainly because those are their interests. That is what they want to do, how they learn, and I love to see the excitement in their eyes. I don’t know if this is “normal” or not. I know a lot of people who would consider all of those things to be “no-no’s”. Lately, I’ve been trying to just say yes more often. I find a way to make it work. Safely. And sometimes I even jump on the couch with them.
Luckily, we have over two years before Lucas would enter Kindergarten, and four or five years for Nathan. There is time to try things out, to explore our possibilities as a family. Even though Lucas has been in preschool this year, it is only twice a week, and I feel like it is a very non-school environment where the teachers are like family. We have enjoyed every minute of it. He has freedom and choices amongst structure and guidance. It is perfect. But all school will not be that way. Kindergarten will not be that way. He will be asked to conform. To follow the rules. To stand in line. To eat his lunch. To do his homework. Their way, not his.
I’m not writing this to offend anyone, and I hope I don’t. I don’t even know if this is where our path is going in the long term. But I do know it is in my heart right now, and it is based solely on my experiences, what I know about my children, and the way I see them interacting with their environment. Other parents may read this and think I am nuts, that children are supposed to follow the rules and conform to the standards of the public school system. People will tell me that if we don’t insist that our kids “keep up” with their peers that they will not make it in school. I don’t believe it. I think society is robbing our children of the experience of being a kid – taking away play time and replacing it with phonics lessons and early math. I also think that every single child is different – and that many may absolutely be ready for and thrive in those types of learning environments, enjoying every bit of it. I’m not judging any other parents choice. Ryan and I are simply making one that fits our family.
I don’t know if the desire to homeschool will stay with me. I had always planned to send my kids to public school. We have a great one just one block from our house. I don’t feel like I have a lot of patience a lot of the time. I need regular breaks from my kids and occasional alone time. I don’t know how to be a teacher. I have a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t even consider such a thing. But there is this little twang in my heart, this little pull that won’t let go. And that is the best reason I have to explain why we need to do this right now.