Dd (9) has never been to school and has no interest in actually attending school, but is very curious about what school is like. I think it would be really interesting for her to attend school for a day with a same-aged friend...do you think schools would allow this? Has anyone ever done it before? I'm not sure how else to counter her curiousity about school.
It would probably depend on the school.
I know my (unschooled) niece did it once, with her cousin (from the other side of her family). Not out of 'curiosity about school', as I recall, mostly just as a way for them to spend some time together on a short visit or something like that. Her cousin is older than her so it wasn't exactly an accurate experience for her... PLUS it was apparently also a 'fun day', one of those days when there's a class party planned or something. So she came away from the experience thinking that school is a hoot, lots of fun and games, and wondering what she'd been missing out on.
My son (grade 8) is involved in a local middle school band, so he does get a good deal of interaction with a 'school day', though mostly just the extracurricular side of it. This past week they had a special blues instructor working with them 2 periods a day, so he was actually there every day during school hours - and on the last day, he actually ended up spending the whole day at school... but not going to any classes, of course. I asked him if it had given him any curiosity to try going to school there, maybe we could see if they'd let him try going to classes for a week (since I'm already on good terms with the principal, who is very supportive of our arrangement with the band). He said nope... absolutely no interest. He liked being able to spend all that time with his band friends, but the band was really the only aspect that was enjoyable. He had no desire for the rest.
Anyway, I'd be wary of letting a child "try school" for a day if they're still pretty young. There's good odds that they'd be extra careful to give a good impression and your kid could actually get a FALSE impression. Another way to think about it... most public school parents wouldn't let their young kid "try homeschooling" for a day just because the kid was curious about it (and can you imagine they'd get an accurate idea of what it's like anyway?). They'd probably say something like "some people homeschool but you go to regular school, I'm the parent and I say so." Homeschoolers can say the same, "I know you're curious but I'm the parent and I say so" -- if you know they're not old enough to make a true analytical judgement and comparison.
If they're MISERABLE about not being allowed to try it, then I'd insist on at least a week, if not a month, so they can really understand the work load, what homework is like, the constraints on their free time on an ongoing basis... one day only barely scratches the surface of what school is like. This could well entail registering for school like you're permanently going, then withdrawing again if and when she's done with it.
Or you could compromise with something like "once you're x years old, you can try going to school." I've known of several kids who've done this... some decided to keep going, some decided to go back home. But it's not a decision easily made if they kid is 1) too young or 2) only there for a day.
Hmmm...good points about getting a false impression. I figured she would see how controlling it is and be satisfied, but maybe not. Perhaps I'll just tell her that you can't go for just one day, because you'd have to register and commit to going for longer and we're not going to do that. That is probably true anyhow.
Regardless, if anyone's child has ever done something like this I'd be interested in hearing about it!
I'm pretty sure that dd's curiousity stems from all the cultural references to school that kids are bombarded with all the time. I don't really blame her for wanting to know what it's really like.
I agree with the note of caution expressed above. Teachers are extremely conscious of appearances, and I know that at our public school, where homeschooled students are (thanks to an umbrella-type program) regularly welcomed into the classroom, the teachers make an effort to be especially engaging, non-coercive and creative. I'm friends with most of those teachers and they're not doing it to try to "woo" the homeschoolers in, it's just the same impulse that leads us to tidy our homes before welcoming visitors or whatever.
Anyway, it would very much depend on the school, how open-minded they are, how "community-friendly," and on how seriously they take issues of security and legal liability. Our school, even before the establishment of the umbrella program, has always been very welcoming. However I only ever sent one of my kids once, and for reasons that were more than simple curiosity. I felt that it was likely to be a little awkward for the teacher to accommodate my child (and with no funding on my child's behalf), and therefore we needed a better reason than just "curious about what it's like." I sent my eldest for three days of third grade because at the time she was considering the possibility of enrolling in school the following fall. So for her and for us it was a fact-finding mission with a view to possible enrollment: was it likely that a school environment would be able to adequately meet her needs.
I guess I just considered the scenario in reverse: what if you got a call from a local public school saying that one of their 5th graders was doing a project about homeschooling and would like to spend a day with your family. You might say yes if you were feeling generous, but if your daily life was -- like a typical public schoolteacher's -- normally packed to the hilt with obligations and therefore a little stressful you would probably find the visit a bit of an imposition.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
If you have a private school you would half way consider using, you might be able to see if they have some kind of open house or program where your dd could check it out. Or, if your dd has a friend attending a private school they may be more accepting of your dd visiting for a day, because they do depend on private enrollment.
My 6 year old and now 8 year old did last term. We were seriously thinking we might have to put them into the local school, and both schools (the kids were allocated to different schools fgs) were happy for them to come in and spend a day. Both enjoyed it but had interesting insights into how school would not serve them, and in the end that, plus a change in our financial fortunes, made us decide not to go down that route. It helped a lot that this was our local school so of course the kids actually knew quite a few of the children there.#
ETA it has made quite a big difference for us. The kids know exactly what the educational alternative is. They know that they would enjoy it, that its not a terrible thing (I think among HE'd kids rumours about school can spread and turn into something quite scary), that they do have this choice to go if they want to-and so they are making a positive choice, especially my 8 year old, to stay home educated. It gets rid of a lot of grass is greener stuff.
That strikes me as somewhat inconsiderate of the school. A lot of preparation goes into balancing class composition and a lot of paper-work gets done when a new student enrolls. If you have no intention of continuing to attend I think you should be saying that.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
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