Monday, July 16, 2012

Mommy, I want to be in school.

Ooh, the homeschooler's parent worst nightmare: what to do when your child asks to go to school?

That was the statement that my 6 yo made this morning.

Initial sinking feeling: I am failing him. Something is off, and I am doing a bad job. Why would he choose school over being at home? Is our life that boring and horrible that he much rather join the ranks of school children?

Fortunately, he made this statement when we were all sitting in the kitchen, eating breakfast. My husband immediately asked him WHY does he want to go to school? 8 yo tried piping up with HIS reasons, but we asked him to let his brother speak. The funny part was, he did not have a reason. Then we asked him what he thinks kids do in school. Last time he was in school setting was when he was 3. He said, they do work and sit in their seats. My husband reminded him that there is also homework. His brother started talking school up, how they had red day and ate licorice or blue day and they could wear blue. I reminded him about uniform and not being able to pick what to wear. 8 yo also said that you have to listen to what the teacher says and do your work. I said that you cannot stop when you are done, you have to do work till the teacher says you are done. He asked about field trips. I said, they do field trips, but he would miss out on our trips. I also told him that sign-up for homeschooling classes is this week, so I need to know whether to sign him up or not.

We left it at this.

Of course, I am nervous. The possibility of going back to school routine is terrifying to me. I hated carpool, I hated homework, I hated not being able to do activities that my kids would rather do all for the sake of being well-rested for school. I also think we would brush against his behavioral issues, which I have a handle on now and which, frankly, have not been so bad lately. They were the original reason why I did not send him anywhere at 4, or 5.

I also realize that most likely this request has to do with not knowing what to expect. He has no idea what school is like, only that some of his friends go to school. He hears about recess and zipline and lunches. He might also have some kind of secret idea that, in his mind, happens only in school. Growing up, I remember looking at school kids in uniforms, looking all formal and grown-up and thinking that school makes you smart. One school song even went: " Here is a teacher entering a classroom, he will teach us everything". For a kid  like me, eager to learn, that sounded like a marvelous proposition. Imagine learning everything! The reality, of course, included teacher who taught strictly to state curriculum and I can say that I remember boredom, but not actual content of what was taught. Contemporary American schools are certainly more jazzed up than those Russian schools. Now teachers sing and dance and bend over backwards, but, at the end of day, school is school, and a class of twenty boys still needs to be kept in line and reports need to be filed and worksheets filled out and teacher's performance evaluated and tests given. Somehow, all of this stands for education.

I will watch for more school requests. I am calmer about it now. I wish I could make a deal with the school for him to try it out for a week or a month, so he would see for himself what it's like, and he would have less yearning for that unknown.


  1. Dear Ilana, from the experience of my several friends who home schooled their children, the main disadvantage they mentioned was a lack of large social setting, the need to constantly arrange the play dates, to make sure that children learn to interact with their peers.

  2. My kids actually seem very happy to have a lot of time when they do not have to interact with their peers. They spent the whole day yesterday indoors, reading individually, even though other options were available. They also interact appropriately: talk to other kids, make friends at the playground, hang out with kids in shul and in the coop. I think those social concerns come more from the parents than from kids. It also might be different with middle-school-aged girls.

  3. Also, he would not have a curriculum that met his needs. If the work is too easy or too hard, he's out of luck. At home, you can keep the work at his level.
    My kids go to camp every month. Mommy turns from a nice, cuddly mommy who has plenty of time to play with her babies to a screaming harridan who has to rush everyone out the door in the morning. They come home late, hot and exhausted. They have to go to bed much earlier and get up at a set time. By the time the month is over, they are ready to return to homeschooling.

  4. They don't need a large social setting to learn to interact with their peers. Most homeschooled children are quite adept at interacting with peers (and unusually skilled at interacting with 'not' peers--ie adults and children both younger and older than they are). Many of them, do, however, need the play dates because they yearn for socialization (as a normal human craving) and it does need to be arranged and worked for.

    My kids wanted to go on the schoolbus. That was their main yearning for school. I was able to arrange for my daughter to sit in on a day of school when she was in 4th grade. And eventually she went to day camp and got to go on the bus!!

    My other daughter told me she wanted to go to school for recess and lunch, and to see her cousin.

  5. Before I even read this I thought about telling you to just send your homeschooler to me, I could set him straight.I was public school raised, and I can say that I hated it! I always wanted to homeschool, I was so advanced with math, reading and writing, that I knew if I was at home I could go at my own pace, and social skills be damned, I never learned anything from being around my piers, I would have done better in a smaller setting, with an adult helping me, than learning "social skills" from my peirs.

    Okay the point is, I'm sure it's a normal yearning, if it's something they have never experienced. But thank God you have done what is best for your children by keeping them out of that position, of being in school, being bored, and having a system that caters to a standard and not a child. Love reading your blog! Great post!