16 September 2013

six | school ready:: a school, a zoo, whats right for you

When I was a young girl I attended a private parochial school. It was small, and very, very traditional.  I was, especially back then, a very much an out-of the box type of learner. On one hand I delved into books and art with great ease while simultaneously afraid that I would be called on to answer a math problem in front of the whole class. In all honestly, I would have much rather spent time cultivating gardens and friends than spend any true time on homework. I was a bit of a (okay, huge) day-dreamer, lost in stories, books, history, and science.  Perhaps because I was an unexpected type of child, one that didn't quite fit the devout feminine mold many of the Sisters' thought young girls should be, but I always felt slightly off kilter there. As if the whole world was trying to put a very round me in a very square hole.

So there are days when it surprises me that all three of my children attend traditional public schools. On the plus side, the schools are very different from the one I attended, and it is certainly a very different sort of world than the one I grew up in. I feel that we are quite lucky that the boys have access, not just to a wide variety of learning tools and instruction, but also to wonderful differences in learning, cultures and people.
There are times, though that I wonder what it would be like to homeschool them. I used to have idyllic daydreams about this when my firstborn was quite little, but then, it slowly became clear to me, that there were so many people out there with so many gifts that it seemed a bit selfish to keep them home, forever and always in my arms, or at least that is what I told myself. Yet, as I said, I still wonder, and in my wonder, I feel the same sort of delight I feel when gardening, as well as a scratchy panicky feel as in when I have to do a math problem...

How do you approach your child's education? What is important for you? (side bar note, over the summer and up until school started I was seriously considering keeping the Middle home... trying to get him what he needs (speech therapy and literacy skills) at home seems daunting, yet at the same time, I wonder if perhaps I would actually get him what he needs).

Please look for more guest posts on this series, school ready, in the coming weeks. Some will be on non-traditional schools, homeschooling and the like. I am hoping we are all able to engage in wonderful discussions on school (or un-schooling), on what works and on what doesn't for each of us and our children.

Finally, my husband sent me this article the other day. The title alone, School is a prisonmakes me scared to read it, but I will, if you will. xxoo


  1. oh oh oh. so much I could write here...going through a lot with our kids in a public school (K and 2nd.) Great school, good teachers, school is just down the block from us.

    But...to encapsulate...I think public school forgets to do things holistically sometimes (or often). Introducing new concepts and not realizing that they are dealing with minds that have NO prior experience with things like... homework for example. My kid was so confused (the second grader) about tests, memorizing things, homework, studying. She was in tears. Teachers forget that these are fresh new minds. They are transitioned so fast into cultural ways via school and I think it can be very damaging if parents and teachers alike are not VERY aware. I have spoken up to teachers and principals with letters and thoughts on various things. I volunteer in both my kids classes and stay on top of what work comes home and what's being taught. I am dissapointed sometimes with responses I get from the teachers when I bring up concerns and sometimes it's frustrating. But, I think that the squeeky wheel gets the grease and ultimately, good teachers want to insight from conscious parents. Public school is to be handled (by parents) with care and questions and investigation. It's also how (most) of our society works and in that respect, in my opinion, it's not all bad. It's life. It just has to be monitored.
    I am at my kids school a lot and I know people wonder WTF I am always doing there. I'm watching out for them.

  2. Well I agree with the title of the article and that is why I keep mine home. They're learning to be life learners, free to read, create, and explore while learning the entire time.

    I hear over and over, "I don't have the time" or "I don't have the patience" and that's okay. It works for us and I selfishly like to be there when things click and they work out whatever they were working on - I like witnessing those moments.

    1. xo There are days that I think the school system is a prison. Especially for children in poor and inner city schools. Perhaps I am failing my boys by sending them there.

  3. I respect and understand where you are coming from but I must confess I smiled at this part - "there were so many people out there with so many gifts that it seemed a bit selfish to keep them home, forever and always in my arms".

    Every now and then I wish I could be selfish and keep my child forever and always in my arms. But she is so often off doing the most amazing things - things she could never do if she was in school - and that's a main reason why I continue homeschooling. Because there are so many people out there with so many gifts, and they're not in school, they're in the real world doing their thing, and my child gets to meet them in their environment. She gets to meet people from all different countries who teach her their skills and their different views of life. She gets to chat with world champions who hang around the same place as her, share jokes with her, give her advice. She visits interesting places and engages with experts who have a deep relationship with those places, instead of being stuck in a school tour, listening to the regular spiel. She gets to be one of the interesting people herself.

    But I hope it doesn't sound like I'm getting down on you, because I don't mean to come across as negative - there are many positives about public school and we miss some of those - but I've heard the argument before that kids get more cultural/social exposure in school and the reality is the opposite and I just want to celebrate that great thing about homeschooling. It's actually good to remind myself sometimes, when school looks so enticing because all the other kids are there!

    1. I could not agree more. It is truly amazing to see the kids interact with mentors they meet out in the real world, doing real work. Setting up trips and meet-ups based on their intrests brings a whole new depth and meaning to the exchange. It goes so far beyond what they could get from a "class trip" to a location they may or may not be interested in at the time.
      Yes. There are people out there with amazing gifts and it is thrilling to see how ready they are to share them with my kids. Just hearing the excitement in the voice of the entomologist we met, when he was inviting us to come up to his lab at the college, was beyond infectious.
      It is a wonderful and amazing way to learn!

  4. My daughter is not of schooling age yet, she starts next year at Kindy and like you I want to keep her at home but I don't think it will work for her because she is such a social butterfly and would strive really well in some form of school with other children.

    On one hand I want to send her to this really beautiful Montessori school but unfortunately, we can not afford the school fees, so at the moment, while I still can, we have some form of "Montessori-ish", Reggio Emilio-ish activities at home.

    I went to public school and I have to say that it was one of the best time of my life. Like you I was a huge day dreamer etc and I learnt to work around that (though schools may be a little different at that time in Malaysia).

  5. I clicked completely with everything you say. I never liked school, or homework. I would have been happy creating gardens instead. I worry about how stressful it is for children to be in a big group of their peers - it is so very unnatural, and causes some bad habits I think. I am not able to home educate, but I am a huge fan of it. Having said all of that, my boys do seem quite happy at school most of the time. It is such a difficult subject, and one guaranteed to cause guilt and unease I think.


hello there! I love it so when you leave a bit of a note to let me know how you are and what you are thinking. I always love to hear about the things inspiring you and moving you through your day.

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