Originally Posted by velochic
Well RedWine, cultural diversity is more important than any of those things you listed. IMHO, at some point in her life, she's going to have peer pressure. I'd rather her experience it, and learn to deal with it when the stakes aren't as high as they will be once she leaves home. I'd rather her deal with peer pressure first when she is being challenged about her shoes, or her homework, or teasing another classmate, and not when she is being challenged to try street drugs or random sex. As for vacation, we are restricted not by dd's classes, but by the fact that my dh is a professor and we can go only when HIS schedule permits (which is almost identical to dd's). You are in the same situation, no? Getting up early... she gets up early anyway. At least when she goes to school, *I* get to go back to sleep.
Oh, and the school does have tests, but I'm one of those rare people that believe that homework (and lots of it) and tests are good. Even if I homeschooled, we'd be having tests. Thankfully, dd's school doesn't do any standardized testing until the kids are about to enter the International Baccalaureate program in high school.
As far as language goes... being exposed to a language does nothing toward fluency. A kid might pick up "yes", "no" and count to 10, but any passive exposure to language is useless. I studied language acquisition as an undergrad, and really the only thing that is useful at this age (5) is immersion. I've posted over on the gifted forum about my dd's language abilities, and it really has come only from immersion. Her first 3 anyway. Her 4th language is only passive fluency now, but it was acquired through immersion. By the time she is able to acquire language through rote teaching, she'll have grown beyond the "Critical Period" and will not be able to acquire it like a native speaker. This is EXTREMELY important to us that she be multilingual, not just to be able to ask where the bathroom is, but to converse on all levels that a native speaker does. You just can't provide that through homeschooling unless there is a secondary (or tertiary) language spoken in the home using a proven method such as OPAL (one parent, one language).
And as for NYC being nearby (as I recall, you said you're in Cambridge... my dh is an MIT grad, so we know the area), I wouldn't call that very nearby, but if you have ready access to it (via train, I assume), then that's great! We have Chicago that nearby, but we don't go there often enough to really have much exposure to the cultural diversity there.
Yes, I agree cultural diversity is very important. I addressed that in my post. We have lots of it!
As far as language goes...yes, we take it seriously as well! I don't believe that immersion is THE only way to learn a language, however. It certainly helps, though -- and we have plans every year to spend months in various countries, to help our kids with their language acquisition (we will start this when our youngest is 5). I also studied the "critical window" "research" as an undergrad, and briefly as a grad student. In fact, I've had lovely conversations with Pinker regarding my views on the adult capacity to learn language -- I feel there are many flaws within that "critical period" paradigm. Really -- drop off an adult in a foreign country, and they learn to speak the language within 5-7 years (just as a child does, growing up in that culture). They learn to speak it fluently, without an accent. I've seen this personally with my sister, I've seen it personally with grad students who have spent years in the field. So, though I know it's fashionable, I don't really buy into the "early-acquisition" viewpoint.
We'll have to disagree on the peer pressure issue. I feel that if a child feels secure within her/himself, they are better able to resist negative peer pressure. I don't see how a child pressured to conform to the norm (as many kids feel when they attend a school) would feel strong enough within themselves to go against the grain when faced with practically ANY issue. The homeschoolers I have met have very high levels of self-esteem, and feel free to be themselves. Therefore, they don't cave to societal pressure and they don't do things that don't feel right to them.
Yes, we frequent NYC often. Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston are also extremely culturally diverse. On our street alone, we have families from the countries I listed in my last post.
We are not in the same situation as you regarding vacations. Dh travels frequently, all over the world. We can turn any one of those trips into a vacation, and save lots of money (legally) on hotels, rental cars, airfaire, etc. In addition, dh sometimes takes weeks to "work at home," writing papers...and off we all go (he writes from the road). Also, the girls and I can up and go wherever, whenever. We don't always travel together. So no, we really don't have ANY restrictions.
As for getting up early -- I meant the opposite. My kids need their sleep, that's very important at this age (any age, really)! I don't want to force my kids into an unnatural sleep-pattern that would probably wreck havoc with their ability to optimally process information.
We differ on the views of homework and tests. I don't need to test my kids. I am with them, I have a very good idea of what they know and don't know. I hear dd1 when she reads, I see her work through her math problems (she's 4, but she's gifted so we do a lot of academics...at her request). I can tell when she doesn't get something. Maybe as she grows, I'll feel the need to change that, who knows. Of course, as she nears her teenage years I will make sure she is used to taking tests, for the sake of college entrance exams.
So again -- kudos for finding an education system that best fits you and yours. However, as with ANY system of education, what is best for you is most definitely NOT best for everyone. You feel what you have is the bees' knees. And I wouldn't trade what we have, and our own opportunities, for anything on the planet. So we both win.