I'm new here and in a dilemma. I have an eight year old daughter I'm unschooling who is begging to go to school next year. We live in a small town where most homeschoolers are of the fundamentalist Christian variety so we haven't reached out to join that community. I think she's just lonely. I have an older child who is in school and a younger one in a Waldorf preschool. There is a Waldorf school opening next year about 40 minutes from our house which I would consider but the cost is prohibitive.
She probably feels left out, the middle child who doesn't go to school like her older and younger siblings. That's a pretty unusual situation. Honestly, I'd send her to school but I unschool primarily because it's what's best for my ds's temperament. Since you don't want to do that, I'd see what you can do to address the lack of friends issue. Are there any after school programs that she could do with schooled kids? You'd want to make sure they didn't spend time helping kids with homework, though! And I'd try making connections with the Christian homeschoolers. You don't know for sure that there aren't a few others in the same boat as you, non fundamentalists looking for a community, in their group. Have you looked for yahoo homeschool support groups in your area? You can also try asking/posting something at the library. I've had to work pretty hard to make things like inclusive parkdays happen in my area (which is not a small town or exclusively fundamentalist Christians). Hosting a "club" with a theme that interests your dd is another idea. I've hosted science themed meet ups at the park, bringing supplies and a project to lure people into coming to meet us. Helping ds make friends has been the hardest part of homeschooling and he is a socially adept friendly kid.
Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, it is a little unusual to have only one kid unschooling but I've tried to approach each of the three kids as individuals with individual educational needs. I also think even young children have an innate sense of what is best for them so I might let her give the school thing another try in the fall. I just wish we could afford the "alternative" options in our area.
It's not that I don't know plenty of people who have some kids in school while homeschooling others, it's just that I can see your dd would feel left out especially as a middle child without any substitute activities or friends... Good luck!
I think you are likely right that this is about meeting her social needs. If your instinct is that unschooling will serve her best educationally, a number of possibilities for meeting social needs spring to mind.
1. Reach out to the local homeschooling community, regardless of the predominant religious motivations for their homeschooling.
2. Take a more active role in securing social opportunities in the after-school hours. Extra-curriculars, play-dates, sports, etc.
3. Look for social opportunities that aren't necessarily with other children, but are available during the day. Nursing home visits, volunteerism, etc.
4. Consider driving to a larger town to connect with a different homeschooling crowd.
5. Could she go to the public school for lunch, to socialize? Our local school happily allows this.
6. Part-time enrolment in the Waldorf school. If it's a new school, they might be open to this. You could negotiate a fee much less than regular tuition, and maybe have her attend a day a week -- maybe whatever day has the most art / theatre / outdoor education. It would involve some driving, obviously, but maybe it would be a good compromise.
(whose unschooled 8-year-old is attending the local public school this week for the Arts and Writers Festival)
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
We are unschooling parents, and our kids love it. However there is a K-8 Waldorf school 35 minutes away. They provide scholarships and the carpooling is very organized, many families driving from 30 miles away.
We started gymnastics (expensive, I know--thanks Grandpa!) and they make some friends there. "Silly"will be eligible for 4-H next year, more kids to meet there. Girl Scouts is a possibilty, I don't know, but a great way to meet friends. Schools offer sports to homeschooling kids, if you are comfortable with that arrangement, and a chance to meet kids.
We really talk up homeschooling at our house. We get to learn what we want, when and for how long (and often far different or "advanced"). We can stay home on a gorgeous day. We can read all day. Recess was a big draw when we played at school playgrounds or read books with school featured. But that was deflated when they learned they only got to play for a little bit. We are homeschoolers, and we are lucky.
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
That definitely depends on the state and the school district. Ours local school is open to it, but they're a huge exception in our area.
I think kerriruth would need to be careful about this, though, as she has two children who are in school. If a child is lucky to be homeschooling there's an implied disdain for the "tough luck" of the homeschooled siblings.
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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