I am sending 8 yo to school next year.
By "next year" I mean next month. I have completed online application, submitted the paperwork, and I am now waiting for the "screening" before the acceptance.
It has not been easy. It has been hard. Those who spoke to me in the past two months know that I considered all different options. I tried many different things with this child. I thought about what I can do and what I want to do.
There wasn't one moment of clarity when it was obvious that he should be going to school. There wasn't a moment that cinched it. Instead, there was this slow realization that I am unable to teach him in whichever way I try. By now, I got to the point that I did not feel like trying any more.
I look at my daughter. She scribbles lists in her notepad. She tells me which letters the words start with. She wants to be shown how to write. She stops me to ask where is any particular word that I read. She is even-tempered and pleasant. She copes with her mistakes and corrects herself. She is eager to learn. I look at her and see that she is a product of my efforts to provide a stimulating and encouraging learning environment.
I look at 8 yo. How can this child be so different? How can he be so helpful, so pleasant, so caring, and then switch to being so impossibly hard? He does not want to learn, not from me, not anything that I deem important. He will not even try. Moreover, I end up engaged in an emotional confrontation, sapping all my energy. He does not gain, and I lose.
At some point, when I was considering sending both boys to school ( 10 yo is no angel either), somebody asked me: if you believe in the principles of homeschooling as ideal education, aren't you selling out? Well, I am still committed to the idea of homeschooling, but I am running out of stamina. And I have looked at how much of my energy is devoted solely to 8 yo, and how that adversely affects the rest of the family, and I realized that I do not have any more energy to give. It is not fair to the rest of us.
So 8 yo is going to school. I have used this threat as a possibility before, so at first he thought I was bluffing. When he realized that this time it's for real, he got upset. He does not want to go. He thinks he will not like it. He will miss out on all the fun things we are doing. He is worried about being held behind and about being stared at. I do listen to him, and I do commiserate, but I am firm at this point. As much as it feels that I am giving up on him, I feel like I am opening up a new vista here, both for him and for me. He can lead a life totally separate from his idolized brother. I can plan activities to do with 10 yo without worrying whether the younger one will participate, or take the whole time throwing a tantrum so that I will not have time and energy to work with the other kids. It is a new perspective, being able to plan and stick to it rather than wait for the next explosion.
While we are on the subject of school, I am thinking of sending my daughter to playgroup a few times per week. She is the one who really wants to go to school, and she loves the company of other kids. She is having a grand time in camp, and when she comes home, she sings songs, talks about what she did and name-drops her friends. I hope that being in a playgroup two days a week would satisfy her need for sociability and for the environment geared to her age. Now, don't get me wrong, on the first day of camp she was mistaken for a 1st grader, so assuredly and maturely she carried herself (she is 4). I know that all comes from being around older kids, but her older kids happen to be brothers, who do not want to make little projects and who are not excited about glitter and tracing letters.
I am also looking into some sort of assistance with 1 yo. Maybe a part-time babysitter, maybe his own playgroup. He is still so little, and he still nurses, so I am not even sure how this would all work. However, I am pleased to see that slowly different pieces are falling into place.
Now we only need to make sure that 8 yo is accepted, and that the cure is not worse than the disease.
P.S. I am saving the financial burden that is slowly dawning on us for another post.