Our two children are 5 and 7.5. Neither has ever been to school...not even preschool. The closest they have come to school is taking a few drop-off recreational classes through our park district, and DS1 did a week of 1/2 day camp this summer at a forest preserve. I do not have any experience with being in a school setting (for children) as an adult - meaning I've never been a teacher, teacher's aid, volunteer, etc. My only
experience with school (for children) was when I went through it as a child myself....and that was a very negative experience lasting through ages 5-17, so while that was a long time ago, it really made an impression on me....but it is truly my only experience with school.
My only knowledge/understanding of school today comes from reading posts here in the LAS area, and reading books, articles, and news stories, and the newsletter that our school district sends out. Once in a while I hear the neighbors' kids talk about school. All of the friends I speak with on a regular basis are homeschooling. It is odd - we've known each other for years, before anyone had made a decision to homeschool, and it just worked out that they have also chosen to homeschool. I never planned to only have homeschooling friends, and I don't in any way avoid friendships with moms with kids in school, and our older son is involved in sports with kids in public school - it has just turned out that I don't have close contact or frequent conversations with parents of kids in school, so I don't hear about school from them.
When we are at DS1's sports activities, and the other parents start discussing things that go on at school..routines, programs, etc..I really feel like some sort of alien. A lot of what they say I don't understand because I don't have any frame of reference for it. I really have no idea what they are talking about ! I just keep quiet and pay attention to the game or practice or to DS2, but it's sort of unsettling to feel so baffled by things all the other parents discuss.
I'm not worried that my kids are missing anything they should be getting. I feel I do a pretty good job of covering all the bases, including time with other kids and being in group settings. I'm not panicked about anything that is lacking in their experience...it's not that.
I have this feeling of living by a very different frame of reference than most parents, and I guess it bothers me that I don't understand theirs. I have never had a child in school. I am ignorant of what that experience is like. I only know what my own experience as a student was like, and what my own parents might have done differently that could have improved my experience, and how the school system could have been different. I'm not sure how much things have changed...it's been over 30 years since I was in a first grade classroom, and I was six years old and terrified and anxious every day, with a mean teacher and a principal who paddled kids at the front of the cafeteria while everyone watched.
(LITTLE kids. I am still furious
I don't feel superior
to parents of kids in school. But I feel apart
from them because of what I don't understand. I realize this goes both ways - a parent who has never homeschooled would be lost at the beginning. I have spent years
reading and researching and exploring just to be able to tackle (so far) grades K, 1, and part of 2. I could sit down with a few other homeschoolers and have a conversation that wouldn't make any sense at all to someone with no exposure or experience in homeschooling. Listening to that, they would feel as lost as I do when I hear other parents discuss school. I know that parents who pull their kids out of school to homeschool feel lost at the beginning. It's all a matter of what your experience is. But I guess I feel odd because when we are doing activities in our community (like sports through local leagues or park districts), I'm pretty much a minority of one. I only know one other homeschooling parent with a child involved in these sports activities, and we knew each other already - I haven't made any new homeschooling connections in this setting.
Anyway, sorry for this long rambling after midnight post...I am just wondering if anyone else has been here. I end up feeling like I inhabit an alien planet during the day and teleport to IL at 5 pm so my ET son can play soccer. And it seems like the more time passes, brick-and-mortar school seems more and more foreign to me, and it becomes a larger element in "normal" families' lives, and I feel very "out there".....because it's not an element in our lives at all, but OMG
the kitchen has turned into a combo preschool/kindy/elementary room/science lab! (On the very rare occasion any of our neighbors step into our house (which opens into the kitchen), their heads just swivel back and forth and their mouths drop open and they are speechless while they take it all in.) To me, it's normal....but I feel more and more like an eccentric oddball....
and I wonder if I will ever feel that I have anything in common with other parents ?
Is this something homeschoolers eventually get used to ?
(wait - I came back to add something - I forgot something big - before kids, - I spent four years working for an educational publisher - one that publishes some large standardized tests. I was on the phones with teachers, principals, school counselors, school psychologists, aids, and sometimes (ahem) students who were asked to help out. So I have inside knowledge of the bu$ine$$ side of education. But no real experience as a parent of a student. )