Everywhere I turn, I am reminded it is Back to School time, for educators, students, and parents alike.
I do not have particularly fond memories of my school years. Being a bookworm whose goal was to stay out of trouble, I quickly became known as the teacher’s pet. Plenty of times, I was ostracized by my peers.
When running for student government, I was told, “I’m running against you just so you lose, and I win.” I was also informed by someone I considered a friend, “I can be your friend when we walk to school, but I can’t be seen being your friend at school. I’m sure you understand?” I understood perfectly well – those people were not my friends. It also made me delve deeper into my books, which provided me with an outlet.
Becoming a parent, I have begun to dread my children entering school. Memories, combined with certain curricula and policies, and an educational climate increasingly focused more on testing rote memorization versus teaching critical thinking skills, I have become skeptical about the quality of education my children will receive. Adding to those concerns is the distinct likelihood my children will change schools every two years, being challenged in some districts, and not challenged in others.
For all these reasons, I have strongly considered homeschooling. In the home environment, I can oversee my children’s curriculum, ensuring the expectations to perform to their standards never waivered or faltered. I have learned how the semantics of homeschooling have changed from when I was a kid – co-ops now assist in providing support if the parent lacks a particular talent, and provides regular social interaction with same aged peers. Sports leagues allow for homeschooling teams, and even some progressive public school districts allow homeschooled children to compete in the school system sports.
My oldest misses the cut-off for school by 12 days. So, he will be six when he starts kindergarten. Knowing this, I decided to start challenging him with preschool during our week. Blogs and groups to which I belong made me think, while difficult, it would be manageable. Armed with high hopes, I started homeschooling about a week after our local schools started their year. I expected good days and bad days, and had grand images of happy child, happy mom sitting together, sharing smiles and creative memories.
A month in, I have decided I am a homeschooling dropout. The bad days outweigh the good ten to one; there are no happy smiles, aside from the giggles of a boy driving his mother to the brink of craziness. My boy knows his letters and numbers some days, and other days he can’t identify anything. Some days he wants to color and work on projects, other days he whines and shuts down. Furthermore, when he sees my blood pressure raising, the boy has the audacity to laugh at me!
I’m not ruling out homeschooling for good.
But, for now, I will let my son close the c’s to make a full circle. I will let him play his Paw Patrol, Thomas the Train, and Hot Wheels. I will let him choose whether or not he wants to color or draw or cut with scissors. I will continue letting him take the lead on potty training.
I will stop feeling guilty when other people ask me whether or not he is in preschool.
I will focus on learning to stop comparing our “homeschool journey” with others.
I will stop researching ways to make learning more creative.
I will stop worrying about his early childhood education.
And, I will let us both off the hook.