As my little one is starting to outgrow the term “little one,” I find myself thinking more and more about schooling for him. He’s 3 1/2 so it probably doesn’t seem too early but I started thinking about it a year ago.
My son is bright. Yes, I know every mother says that. But he really is. I had him evaluated when he was 2 1/2 for a variety of reasons and cognitively he was pretty advanced. Socially, he needed a little bit of work. But what surprised me the most was the doctors suggesting that he start preschool the following year. Not my baby! I’m not ready! And then when they told me the deadline were looming for the following fall, I went into a bit of that overbearing panicked mother mode.
Where do I send him? NOT daycare. Does he need school? What about Montessori? Or a Catholic school? Can’t he just stay where he is? He’s been going to someone’s home for a few days a week since he was 4 months old. He calls his sitter NaNa. Pulling him out would feel like breaking up the family!
I took a breath. I ignored the schooling issue for a while. I checked out a church preschool. I visited three Montessori schools. Then I was faced with what I could afford and where he could get in. Wow. I wasn’t expecting all of this for preschool. And is it really necessary?
I, myself, am a product of public schools. I grew up in a small rural community and always thought I turned out just fine. I went to a good college, graduated, and have achieved some relative success. I became a firm believer in public schools and felt that our tax dollars should be ensuring our children are well taken care of.
Then I became a teacher. I taught middle school science for a little over a year. It made me feel like I never wanted to have kids. Not if they were going to turn out like that. Then I did have a child. And as we all know, the lioness fiercely defends her cub. No child of mine is going to be subjected to public schools where we have no idea nor control over the content, the environment, or even how good the teacher is.
But lately, as I look at all the private (i.e., costly) school options, I actually started thinking about homeschooling in the back of my mind.
I’ve never been a fan of homeschooling. I always thought that socially it’s not good for kids. I thought that there is no way a parent can be as knowledgeable as all of the teachers of different subject matters. And a home environment certainly couldn’t be as structured as a school environment.
As my son gets older and more curious about the world around him, my doubts on all of this are fading. We have so many resources and materials available outside of the classroom. The world is the best place to learn. A lesson on ecology? Walk into the backyard and talk about deciduous and evergreen trees, perennials and annuals, bird migration, food chain, you name it. How about natural disasters? Keep the content relevant with what’s going on in the news. Go to YouTube and bring the subject to life.
I know that I have already taught my son a lot about the Space Shuttle and Apollo rockets, tsunamis and earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, pirates, music, history all through the magic of books, video, and (shocker) talking. We keep it conversational and I find that his love of learning makes it feel natural and not like a lesson plan.
No matter what I decide for his education, I am starting to feel a lot more respect and admiration for those that have the time and ability to teach their children at home. If you are one of them, I’d love to hear about some of your greatest challenges and successes.