But I Wanna Go To School!
If the kids don’t want to homeschool, how should you react? Do you agree? Disagree? Hang your head and feel like a failure? Don’t feel bad; it’s not uncommon for kids to want to go to public school. Alison Moore Smith looks at the reasons why kids want school, and why it might be best to let them make the choice.
You’ve just decided that homeschooling is definitely for you. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and it’ll be perfect for you and your whole family. Or perhaps, you’ve been homeschooling for years now. You enjoy it, your kids have thrived on it, and you can’t Imagine your lives any other way. The reasons for your decision and your satisfaction are endless. Youve rallied friends and family behind you. Even the school board is on your side. Nothing could be better!
Who could burst your bubble? Well, how about your own little junior or juniorette? As he or she dashes into your room someday to announce, “I wanna go to school!” What will you do?
Grace Llewellyn, a well-known homeschooling speaker and author was attributed with saying the following in a recent speech: “What do you do if your kids want to go to school? My theory is ‘once an unschooler, always an unschooler’. If they go, it will be with the freedom and the knowledge that it was their choice, and that they can just up and leave if they want to. The knowledge that you have that freedom brings a whole different attitude to learning and to the entire school experience.”
While this might seem like an ideal situation, I don’t know many school administrators, or parents, for that matter, who really want their kids popping in and out on a whim. Still, It seems quite appropriate to let the child have input into this decision. This would especially apply as the child gets older (and hopefully wiser) and to families who use a delight, or interest-directed approach to schooling.
So, how can you make a wise decision? First, consider why you are homeschooling In the first place. There may be circumstances that make attending a public or private school out of the question, such as a transient job, dangerous situations in your local schools, financial hardship, distance, or religious conviction. If none of these extenuating circumstances exist, consider carefully the desires of the child. Discuss the situation with them at length. Express your views feelings and concerns, and let your child do likewise. Don’t make up your mind beforehand.
Be honest about your feelings and assessment of the situation. Don’t bad-mouth the school system. That may just backfire on you. But, do accurately explain the differences between home and public schooling. Explain the real freedoms and joys association with homeschooling. Tell them the drawbacks of public schooling as well. Then sit back and be prepared to listen to the concerns of your child. Find out why they want to attend school. The more specific the answer, the better.
Often kids desire something that looks fun, or interesting, or just different from the outside, when they may not actually enjoy it anyway. You may also be surprised at the simplicity of what they feel they’re missing, and realize that their desires can be easily accommodated while staying at home. Perhaps your child wants to ride a bus, have a lunchbox, learn new types of artwork, go on a field trip, meet more children, play on a team, or go to the library more often. The solution can be as simple as having some of the trappings of school: new clothes, a loose-leaf notebook, workbooks, photographs, etc.
My oldest daughter attended public school for two years before she convinced me to keep her home. She felt that the schootwork was boring and limiting, and said so often. But she did like playing at the playground, meeting other kids, and getting lots of positive feedback from teachers and administrators. Because of this we have included park trips, support group activities, and more neighborhood children into our days.
During her kindergarten year, Jessica envied the kids who were in the after-school program. What a crushing blow to a devoted stay-at-home mom! One day, I went to her school right at dismissal time for a committee meeting. We watched all the kids leave the building and run merrily out to the swings. But when the meeting ended, less than an hour later, we walked past the playground again on the way to our car. There, lined up against the chain-link fence were four of Jessica’s classmates. They were hanging onto the top of the fence and looking longingly out toward the parking lot. As we passed, and Jessica greeted her friends, they said to her, “How come you get to go home and we don’t?” and “You’re so lucky!”
Here were her friends, who still had another couple of hours before they would see their parents, expressing their envy of her. She had never been around long enough to see this transformation. The grass looked greener, until she got a little glimpse of what is was really like to be on the other side. Many times since she has thanked me for staying home for her.
On the other hand, children very well may thrive in a school environment. There are many kids whose learning styles are such that a classroom situation works well. It suits them. If that’s the case, letting them go may actually be the best parenting choice you can make.
Another homeschooler, whose daughter chose to attend school and then chose to come back home again, remarked, “You know, she learned much better by experiencing it, than she ever could have through my explanations. She had what so few do — freedom of choice — and I think that made all the difference.”
For our family, the advantages of having had both experiences turned out to be more numerous than we’d thought possible. I’m so glad we did it. All of our kids want to stay home now and I know they’ll each have the opportunity to learn all of the things that truly fascinate them. What a blessing!
© 1996 Alison Moore Smith. Reprinted with permission from Bright Spark Super Learning Tools