Originally Posted by Linda on the move
I think it is a put down to both teachers and parents when school is referred to as "free childcare."
I think for many parents this is the most important aspect of using a building school. Not all. And of course, not a factor for parents who use a private school.
My mom is a teacher and retired principal. When she started teaching I was in my mid-teens. She calculated if she were being paid the going rate for babysitting for each kid in the room, she'd make more money. (Of course a one-thirty ratio would never fly in childcare.)
There are great wonderful teachers in great wonderful schools providing a great deal more than childcare, but child care it is nonetheless, especially before children can stay home alone safely.
From a societal perspective, one of the important functions of school is that it provides a safe place for children while their parents work. That's perfectly fine. It doesn't put anyone down to acknowledge that, as all the moms I work with would be the first to attest. It gives working parents a good place for their kids and non-working parents a consistent break from the demands of care giving.
I've been thinking about the community aspects of homeschooling vs. schooling. And children learning to be members of a group.
I'm not sure that someone who visited our homeschooling community for only a year, especially if they were not planning to stay, would get to experience the depth of affection and support available. I think I might choose to use school if we were going to move around so my kids would have a "ready made" group of kids to hang out with. It takes longer to make connections among homeschoolers because of the lack of dailiness to the kid interactions.
When my 9 year old thinks about using school, it's the routine and the fact that she'd see the same kids every day that appeals to her. She's very social and competitive, so she (and we) seek environments where she meets those needs in consistent and constructive ways.
My 5 year old would be a kindergartener. At home she is building her community one by one, as is her preference. She is in groups by default because of her older sister, but consistently makes friends with one child and plays in a focused way with that person. She has a gymnastics class and Girl Scouts, which is all she wants.
Both kids like doing their academic stuff pretty privately.
I think when kids get to be "middle school" aged, they most often need opportunities to "spread their wings" a bit. The feedback I've heard from homeschooled kids who've used school is that late elementary is a great time in school, middle school is just awful and high school is great if you want to hunker down on academics.
Lots of the homeschooling families that we know don't fit the mom-stays-home-dad-works model. Maybe it's the economy; maybe just the area I'm in. Our homeschooling groups are about as diverse as the local private schools...so not as diverse as I'd like, but as good as I'd get with the groovy schools we'd likely choose if we were using school.
Long and short...If you have good safe schools with kind warm people in your area, they can provide a consistent group of kids and adults to get to know, with big rooms to use for projects (gyms, auditoriums) and provide opportunities to learn about things you haven't thought of or need a big groups of interested kids to pull off.
If you have a large, diverse, accessible homeschooling community, you can provide a flexible environment that gives each child a great deal of control over his/her day and provide opportunities to follow his or her interests and passions to their natural limit, while nurturing relationships with children and adults over the period of his/her childhood.