Ok, if you’ve been following along with this blog you know I’ve been struggling to decide between traditional school and homeschool for Jack (who’s 3). This decision has been weighing heavily on my mind, but I have finally agreed with the support of my husband to homeschool Jack. As parents, we do have a choice in how our child is educated. Whether it’s traditional public school, private school, or homeschool, etc. There is ultimately more than one option.
However, homeschooling is challenging if not impractical with parents working outside the home. But, homeschooling is about having the freedom to organize and guide your child’s lessons under your time constraints. But I understand how traditional school wins over working parents. Before I go any further, I’d like to fill you in on my experiences with traditional school, because these experiences have directly impacted the fear I have of public education.
I started preschool at age 3 (which was early or extra preschool back then) I did two years of preschool before entering kindergarten. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I hated the other kids, but more than that I felt vulnerable, I was talked down to, misunderstood, misrepresented, and ridiculed, this continued into kindergarten and on through elementary and middle school. I was bullied and teased, punched, kicked, and sexually harassed ( and if you don’t think a kid can be sexually harassed by another kid you’re dead wrong).
An empathic child cannot just merely IGNORE A BULLY.
Speaking of empathy, where the fuck is everyone’s?
Also, bullying begets bullying because I was bullied and I bullied. I am no angel.
By the time I reached 5th grade I was labeled as having a learning disability (related to my struggles with math). This label followed me on through high school. It affected my self-image and self-esteem. I didn’t care about school or grades at all. Fast forward to now, and I’m 29 years old and a second-semester freshman at the local community college majoring in English. I have a 3.8 GPA (but I haven’t taken a math class yet). Math aside, I think I might have been a better student had I been educated less conventionally. Perhaps my self-esteem wouldn’t have suffered, and I might have completed college much earlier.
Some of you may recall from my Charlotte Mason post, that traditional public schooling formed in England out of necessity. With little access to books necessary to facilitate independent learning styles, children had to gather in school houses where the teacher would instruct them from a book, and share her knowledge, which she attained by her ability to read and access books. Additionally, modern public schooling in the United States was born out of necessity, not so much because of a lack of books, but because both parents labored long hours outside the home and the children needed someplace to be.
Today, kids and parents have access to public libraries for books and home computers with a high-speed internet for online classrooms. K-12 public school online seems like a fantastic alternative. I don’t know much about it though, but I’ve seen it advertised and I wish I would have had access to something like that growing up.
Historically, public schools in the United States were designed with the assembly line in mind. Each pupil required conditioning so that someday they might become a factory worker like their parents. In my assessment, public schools are still ugly, dull, often windowless, prisons. The state mandates the curriculum, and the budget favors athletics over the arts. The classrooms are overcrowded, and the textbooks are out of touch. The teachers are borderline abused by the students and the administration. And don’t get me started about the cuts to what they so delicately refer to as “special education.” Or the rampant reports of neglect and abuse committed against students with various disabilities.
But what about socialization?
Here’s the rub, I don’t give two fucks about socialization if Jack is a shy, sensitive, 42-year-old man someday because he was homeschooled that’s just fine by me. Plus, you’re not allowed to talk in fucking class! And let’s be real, kids are assholes, childhood friendships form again, out of necessity, it’s survival. I understand that friendships are meaningful, I want Jack to have friends, I believe he can and will make friends even if he’s homeschooled if he so chooses. I will go out of my way to find activities to include him in where he’ll have the opportunity to bond with children his age.
I just don’t believe Jack has to endure 6 hours of mind-numbing school on the off chance he might have a meaningful encounter with a kid his age at recess or lunch because again, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CHAT, LAUGH, OR PAL AROUND DURING CLASS.
I know what you’re thinking…
Homeschool kids are “weird”…all the ones I remember growing up were…but I was jealous as fuck of them. They were ALLOWED TO BE WEIRD. They didn’t have to hide it or attempt to work around it regularly. All that energy can instead be spent on pursuing their EDUCATION. Weirdness is not a crime; I’m weird, my husband is weird, our kid is weird, my favorite people are weirdos. I’ll take an odd duck over a normie any day of the week. Weirdness or shyness is not equateable to handicap or mental illness.
Public school is discriminatory toward introverts. My report cards came home with little notes like “does not participate in class” which is like saying “does not raise hand or shout answers” or “sits too quietly and listens” and then of course if you’re too energetic during class you need ADHD medication, but that’s another matter.
My point is, INTROVERSION IS NOT A PERSONALITY DISORDER. It’s an entirely acceptable state of being. Every introvert learns how to adapt as a means of survival into an extroverted world by the time their an adult.
I don’t trust the school system with my child, not with his body, not with his heart, and not with his mind. I don’t want the administration to stamp out any part of my child’s spark. I know there are great teachers out there who do right by their students, I know, I had a few, but it’s not enough.
Now, I have a feeling that someday Jack may ask to go to school, and when he does, as long as he is old enough in my assessment to advocate for himself and adequately defend himself, I will allow it. I realize that’s a clever little loophole, but I promise to trust Jack. I believe in my kid, since the day he was born, since the moment I laid eyes on his little two-pound body. Childhood is such a delicate and precious time I know that sounds cliché as fuck, but it’s all too true. So I’ll just be one of many of Jacks teachers, and his home and his backyard and his community can be his classroom until he’s old enough to decide what he wants for himself.
As for curriculum, I’m exploring options. I’m into the Charlotte Mason method but with supplementation for things like math with software or an online program … I’m also interested in public school online so if anyone has any info on that front to share I would appreciate it. If any homeschool mom’s or dad’s out there (who haven’t already been scared off by my cursing) want to comment below with links to their blogs or other tools I would be very grateful. I’m also interested if anyone has had success using an umbrella school. I’m also interested in linking up with a group of homeschool parents and kids in Northern California who meet for socialization etc.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. I apologize if anyone feels attacked or alienated by this post. My intention is to convey my personal thoughts and feelings on the matter. I realize that homeschooling is a challenge and ultimately easier said then done, but I have to at least try.