Sunday, 8 May 2011

Back 2 Reality

I was reading a discussion-thread from our local Home Ed group that had subject heading of 'Back 2 School'. Many families who start off home educating go back to the system for various reasons, though the most common are:
1) Worried the children aren't getting enough time with their friends (translated:  if the children are not out and about meeting up with people or going on field trips every day, then they are deprived when compared to sending-them-off-to-school every day)
2) The children ask if they can go back to school
3) I need more 'Me' time (translated:  school at least babysits the children several hours each day)
4) Financially, it's a must for the children to go back to school. Either a parent is now single, or has a job, or lost a job.....these are sudden decisions.

My personal reflection on the topic as a whole is:

for #1 above) It's perfectly okay, and is actually GREAT for children to stay home enjoying the surroundings of their familiar environment, for the majority of their time. If children spend most of their time at home, with the special visits to friends for playdates, then this is NORMAL, and okay. Children do not need daily contact with their peers.  They need daily contact with their immediate family.  They need daily contact with their sacred space, which should not be a schoolroom or with school teachers. It should be.....Home.
Taking children out of the home every single day to experience some sort of 'external environment or stimulus' is actually teaching them that Home is not good.  Home should be avoided. Home is boring.

You'd be surprised to know that children actually would enjoy to stay at home.  EVEN if your children mope about saying 'I'm bored'......that is normal and okay. EVEN if your children start squabbling with you or (as mine do) with each other.....that is normal and okay.

Don't fall in to the regime of getting dressed and going somewhere simply to 'distract the kids' from being bored or squabbling.  If they are squabbling, at least they are practicing the art of squabbling with someone who unconditionally loves them. If they are bored, let them figure out how to entertain themselves. If you, as their parent, make yourself comfortable at home and enjoy being at home, then your children will learn to emulate you. Find yourself a hobby, find yourself a sacred space, and learn to appreciate it yourself.  Your children will do the same. Not overnight. Not on your terms.  But in their own space and time, they will emulate how you approach life.

If you get bored being at home, and find yourself getting dressed to always 'go somewhere', then don't be surprised later in life when your children are too busy to come visit and just 'hang out' having tea and conversation and time together at home.  They won't know how to.

for #2 above) My children sometimes ask questions about 'school' wanting to know 'what it's like'. This is normal given that School has become so commonplace in society (despite its shortcomings), and I'm glad my children feel comfortable to question out of curiosity. They tell me they don't want to GO to school, but want to know a few things here and there (and would like to have a uniform or two for pretend play)

If my children asked to go to school, I'd say 'No'.  Why?

Because I'm the adult who's been through it all and knows better, and there is always that top 5 list of things a parent will say 'No' to with their children.  For example,

  • If mine say 'can we start going to the Scientologist church Mommy?', my response is 'No'
  • If mine say 'can I start wearing clothes that show my midriff and have 'Juicy' written across the bum Mommy?', my response is 'No'
  • If mine say 'can I eat candy for breakfast Mommy?', my response is 'No'
  • If mine say 'can I try smoking Crack Mommy?', my response is 'Hell No'

Fortunately, my children have never asked any of the above. But, in comparison, I think school is just as bad as cult-religions, slutty-clothes, candy for breakfast, and crack cocaine, so why would I say 'Sure' if my kids wanted to go?

Now, I do understand that a LOT (if not MOST) parents think 'School is okay', but if they really believe this, then why did they Home Ed in the first place?

for #3 above) Okay, I fess up. I sometimes DO daydream about 'wow, what if the kids did go off to School every day leaving hubby and I here at home for MANY hours each day'.  WOW, we'd have a clean house, we'd have fit-n-trim bodies from having all that time to Work Out, and we'd have........

well, I honestly don't know what we'd do with all that time, but, for sure, I'd vacuum more and possibly read more books.

But I don't REALLY want my kids to go to school, so these are short lived daydreams of 'Me' time.
And I'd probably get super-bored with all that 'me' time anyway.

Parents need breaks from kids, and kids need breaks from parents.  But not hours-long-each-day breaks. If you find that you need to be away from your children for hours each day, then there's something YOU as the parent need to change.  Don't ship your kids off to school every day whilst you figure it out.  They deserve better, and you're the adult who should just buckle up and deal with it. There's no time for being 'selfish' when you're a parent who cares. Sure, kids drive you crazy, but that's why you should link in with your partner for support, your immediate family for support, and your local community of like-minded folk for support.  Don't ship your kids off to school just 'cause you need 'a break', and if you DO, then don't try to justify it.

4) If your only choice due a financial set back is to send your kids off to school, then don't fret. Use school as the tool you need, but don't depend on it to do right by your child. Use it only as a supplement to your overall Home Education path; e.g, see it as the babysitter it is and don't force your child to adhere to the faculties.  You can still foster the life-long-learning philosophies from Home Education outside of school and work hours. Look at every possible sacrifice you can make, but don't try justifying School as 'okay' just because it offsets the financial situation. Only your know what's right for your child.

Wow, so I've just said more than a mouthful.....filled with opinions. I'm good at that!
I suppose if I summed it up, it would really be to say 'Relax, your children will experience boredom, your children will squabble with siblings and friends, and it's okay. Let them. Let them get bored, let them squabble, let them make mistakes, let them pave their own way.  Be their Parent, be their friend, be their mentor in life who protects them from harms way. Don't be afraid to say 'No' whilst also being confident to explain 'Why'. Let them make their own choices but don't forget that they also may choose to run out in to busy streets, but you stop them. or they may also choose to put choking hazards in their mouth, but you stop them. or they may choose to spend all the food budget on sweeties, but YOU stock the house with nutritious food instead. If you chose to keep, or take, them out of school, then pat yourself on the back and stick to your intuitive choices. If you need a break from your children, then take some time to set up some breaks for yourself. Simply say 'I need a break'.  Don't translate that in to 'the kids must go to school because it's cheap babysitting'.

This blog post is obviously not intended for my friends/family who believe in the school system, and think I'm nuts, but love me anyway :)


  1. I can just hear you saying "Hell No!"

    I find the use of the phrase child led to be interesting here, it seems to crop up as a justification often for a return to school but your examples are really powerful in showing that actually we are not totally child led even as autonomous home educators.

  2. ps Here's what I wrote about this back in February but I think Aida's post is better! Did you see it? The one with the dog photo.

  3. I can't see the posts? Would love links to read up!

    Not sure why people are so inclined to make rule books out of parenting types, nor do I really know what the books say about child-led or autonomous HE. I've just been parenting on-the-go and somehow wound up fitting in here and there on a few. I use terms like unschooling and autonomous learning loosely because we likely fit in there more than anything, and didn't realise I was attachment-parenting until someone else mentioned it to me.

    Regardless of parenting types, the Institution of modern Schooling (which includes the Steiner stuff) is damaging to a child. I've never been convinced otherwise. Children do reach an age of wanting to advance their interests in a community that their independence can explore, and that is where HE is a challenge, because there aren't many outlets available. But I will continuously search for other-options for my children that don't lead them to the stifling enclosed dreadful walls of a school room.