My DD started kindergarten in PS this fall. We had given serious thought to homeschooling before and were ready to do it had second thoughts. DD is a pretty intense personality. She is incredibly sweet with a big heart but required LOTS of attention and stimulation. I simply thought there was no way could handle her needs and other family agreed she would be "bored and too sheltered" if we homeschooled.
Well, DD loved it at first. She even loved the bus, her teachers, everything. But some things have come up that have left DH and I with big concerns. We recently moved and are just finding other friends that homeschool. A lot of the reasons that they decided to homeschool was how much testing and focus there is on "standards" in the PS. Many feel that their children were not encouraged to learn, but only perform to a standard. NOT the I want to parent.
DD has come home and put a ton of focus and "good kids" and "bad kids". She comes home and plays with our other DD (2 yo) and is constantly writing "sad notes home" because she is being "bad" and writing "good notes home" for her toys and such that are "good kids". She is also not very understanding of other kids who are not performing as well as she is, despite DH and I explaining to her that it is perfectly ok for some kids to take a little longer to learn something than others.
She is really stuck on performance. One time I pulled out her homework and she didn't see the gold star she usually got. She freaked out! It was just on the other side of the page but she was devastated. The same thing when her teacher forgot to give her her usual "smiley face" on her behavior chart. I want her to have a love of learning and exploring and not be so focused on being perfect and getting gold stars although as mentioned earlier that seem to be exactly what the focus if our school system is.
On to pof all that, there is virtually no art program, and even science seems to take a back seat. I know they don't do a whole lot in kindergarten but I would love DD to learn more about other cultures and there is NONE of that.
Anyway, we have pretty much decided to homeschool, possibly taking an unschooling approach. I think in the end it will be a better fit for her, even with her intensity. It is so much more what we want for her and how we want to parent her. But how do we break it to her? When would a good time for this transition be? Should she finish out the year? or after the holidays maybe? I would really love to start the new year homeschooling but that might be a bit of a shock for her. Any ideas?
About her attraction to rewards and judgements ... I think that you could probably effectively eliminate their power by appearing to play along, but doing so so casually and flexibly that she will see it all for the shallow construct it is. So if she wants a gold star for a picture she drew or a math page she does, by all means, let her have one. Say "Sure, I bought a pack of gold stars. They're in the kitchen junk drawer. Give yourself one." Or "Actually, I bought a few packs of gold stars. I'm busy over here. Why don't you have this packet, and if you think you did something good just put a few stars on."
If she wants smileys to be part of her homeschooling, tell her that they would be really helpful, because they'll let the two of you figure out how homeschooling works best in your family. At the end of each day, you and she can both draw smileys on the calendar, you in blue ink, she in green ink, to describe how you felt about that day's homeschooling. If there are two smileys, that says you might be finding your groove. If you both did sad faces, obviously you have the opportunity to learn from what didn't work, and to change things up for tomorrow. The smileys are no longer rewards and judgements, but have been reborn as collaboration tools in a quest for mutual happiness.
Good luck! I think you'll likely find that there will be a transition phase, and that your homeschooling will evolve ovver the months and years as you both sink into it more fully and freely. But you'll probably find that it will take you longer to drop your assumptions about learning than it will your dd.
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
Thanks for the ideas and responses. I think after the holidays will work great. DH told DD yesterday how she felt about starting school at home. I thought she would be upset or at least have mixed feelings about it. But she was SO excited! I really didn't expect her to like the idea but she then told us that school was making her tired and bored. Maybe I was picking up on her feelings about it but didn't know it. She tends to put on a happy face and demeanor even when she isn't to go with the flow and not dissappoint. I don't know. Either way, we are all excited now!
I am such a homeschool cheerleader. Without putting a bad face on schooling, I can still trumpet the good things about the freedom we have as homeschoolers. Sometimes it can feel contrived, but even so, I feel the need to make it obvious so that we don't take it for granted and wish we had something else.
What do we love? What do I cheer about?
*relatively easy mornings. While our mornings are often not stress-free, we don't have the added stress of getting dressed, fed and out the door by a prescribed time.
*learning on our own terms and schedules
*the freedom to be spontaneous
*the freedom to give our bodies and our lives a break in times of sickness or family stress without having to account to somebody else.
*the freedom to move and groove whenever we feel wiggly.
*visiting places when school is in session to avoid the crowds. (We always schedule our beach trip right when school starts!)
*freedom from much of the busy work/work for record keeping that occupies so much of a school kids' time.
You get the idea. I make it obvious just often enough to remind them that the benefits they enjoy are a direct result of our choice to homeschool. Mainly it's when I get a bit excited that we can do what we do because we do!
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
Sweet Silver, those are many of the reasons we are deciding to homeschool. DD is so excited when I really didn't expect her to be, to the point where it is getting hard to convince her to finish these last 4 days before winter break after which we will homeschool. I feel it's important for her to complete the semester she started but mornings have been a little rough to say the least.
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