Partner to R ('03); Parent to T ('07), A ('10), and E ('13)
I think this is a situation that requires parental leadership. As you've discovered, young children's decision-making is not generally guided by wisdom and experience and long-term understanding. It's very much rooted in feelings of the moment and day-to-day considerations. I am very much in the radical unschooling camp, but I believe that it is possible to saddle children with too much responsibility, and that can work against them developing confidence and persistence.
I've found that at times putting responsibility for decisions and persistence upon my kids, and taking my kids' misgivings too seriously has undermined their own confidence. If they balked at something that they felt confident about a few days ago, and I allowed them to waffle on following through, they interpreted that as "mom doesn't think I can hack it either." Or "mom is also confused about whether this is okay for me or not." Or "I don't feel ready to a decision on this -- I don't know what to do -- and my mom won't help by deciding for me."
I am a reluctant leader. I tend to sit back and say "well, what do you want?" and wait for others to make decisions. But I've gradually come to realize that there are times when children draw comfort and security from their parents' decisiveness and confidence. They don't need their autonomy taken from them, but they need others to make bigger-picture, longer-term decisions on their behalf, taking into account their needs and inclinations. I would encourage you to do so with the schooling / homeschooling issue. Make a decision on your child's behalf, taking into account her needs, the reality of the options you have, your beliefs about what is best for children like your dd, and your gut feelings about what makes her tick and will support her most thoroughly in the next year or so. I'm not saying that parents should have the authority to over-rule their children's desires, but that parents have a role in providing the leadership that will guide their children through various moods and waxing and waning motivation.
So don't ignore her day-to-day feelings if they are at odds with the choice you've made, but express confidence that she will thrive, that the two of you can find solutions, that things will work out, that she can make things work. Obviously, if things get very dire you may need to adjust the choice you've made on her behalf, but I think there's a lot to be said for modelling persistence, commitment and creative problem-solving.
One option would be to decide that for 1st grade you will homeschool. Explain that she knows what school is like, but she's had mixed feelings about it, and schools clearly aren't happy about having children miss days -- especially not as they get older. She hasn't really experienced home-based learning, and you will spend 1st grade exploring that possibility with her. You know she is a bright, wonderful girl who learns well, and you know she will be fine in either situation. You just want a chance to see over the course of a year whether homeschooling fits her and your family better than school has. "This is a great year to give homeschooling a go," you can say, "because you will be at home when the baby arrives, and we can really enjoy getting to know our baby together." And then work hard to make homeschooling a successful and enjoyable experience.
And you know, I really believe that having a newborn makes for some truly awesome homeschooling possibilities. It forces you to think outside the box about learning and living, it allows your older children to grow into new levels of responsibility and autonomy and it gives you a way to really bond as a larger family. I have administered the New Baby Curriculum to my unschooled kids twice (I have four kids spread over nine years) and it I can't imagine what it would have been like to be trying to get reluctant kids to school while dealing with a newborn.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
I am in a very similar situation with my son.
Here are some things we are considering:
What are some positive things he's getting from being part of a public school, and can we satisfactorily replace those (art and music rooms full of materials and instruments, daily social interaction with kids his own age etc.)?
Will a new baby and a different way of schooling be too much change for him all at once?
If we decide homeschool is not for us, how easy will it be for him to go back to public school (socially, academically, logistically)?
How can we make sure he feels like this is a new adventure for our family and not as if he is too good for or not good enough for "regular school"?
Will we be able to provide him with enough social opporunities? This is a huge one for me. I'm a ceritfied teacher and feel pretty confident about my ability as far as instruction. However, we live in a rural area where most kids' best friends are their cousins and all homeschoolers I know of are very religious. We aren't religious and my son doesn't have cousins his age. I'm pretty shy ,and even though we have him involved in out of school activites (baseball, library activities), I have a hard time connecting with other parents.
This decision is going on between my husband and I. DS does not have deciding vote. We have asked him which he would prefer. Like your LO he'll say homeschool one day and elementary school the next.
Hope this helps you. I'm interested in some of the things you are considering as you make this decision.
Also, I'm pregnant with another child that will be born at the beginning of the next school year: I worry about starting to homeschool on top of a newborn. I really feel at a loss as to what to do with her, but I feel a lot of pressure to decide as the deadline for first grade approaches. What should I do?
The great thing about homeschooling is, your "school year" and "school days" don't have to look like a regular school's AT ALL. You do not have to be on a schedule. You can take a couple of months off when you have your baby and like Miranda suggested (New Baby Curriculum haha) just do the baby and big sis thing. There is a lot to do and learn there anyway. In the mean time, keep a good amount of diverse reading materials around. Try out audio books. Build a good list of documentaries. Create a comfortable, well-organized craft/art/stuff/twiddling thumb area -- one she can use then pick up after herself and put things back where they belong easily. Create a comfortable rhythm (not a schedule) for both of you, a daily routine she can anticipate easily. You have a good bit of time to get yourself and her in the homeschooling frame of mind before next year. Then you will fill in the details later.
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