I have always planned to homeschool, and my husband wanted us to try this program. The school is the only one we would consider for our son. We've been absolutely thrilled with his teacher. She is dear and kind and good and excellent with the children. While I was concerned about sending him, I've also been very affected by our baby (now one) who is very high-need. (He was born very sick. We are so thankful that he is thriving. He rarely sleeps for more than two hours at a time, and I'm completely wiped out sometimes. This sleeplessness is another subject, and it's one we've been through before as our oldest son was also a very sensitive, easily overwhelmed preemie.)
Well, at first our son was hesitant, but he went along with school. He liked the teacher, and stuck to her. He began to bring home observations including an amazed delight that children willfully and happily go against the requests of the teacher. He then started saying "no" to me with a smug, taunting look. After more time, he began telling me that other kids fight. Recently, he experiments with fighting. He was very upset that a girl said "I hate you" to him. Last Friday, he told us that he gave a boy a note that said "I hate you" and that another boy was encouraging him to do so. My husband and I were distraught.
I don't like the fighting. I don't like that the boys and girls seem to have self-segregated. I like the one on one time with my baby. I like that my son seems happy to play with other children. We have doubts that kindergarten would work at all, partly because it's 5 days a week and partly because the school is moving and we don't want our children in the car too much.
I know I'm going on a bit. My son says he'd miss the playing but not the fighting if he stopped going. He says he wants to go. I would miss his teacher. I've also had a good feeling of community with some of the other parents. My son has been fairly blah about the mommy&me program we've taken through the Waldorf's schools outreach.
I feel very muddled and am having a hard time making a decision. I am ambivalent about paying January's tuition at the end of this month, and prayers and meditations don't seem to enlighten me. We've had a hard time meeting others since we moved 1.5 years ago, and the neighborhood children are out 8-5 or more each day. The local homeschooling group is very big, and I know I need to put a lot of effort into finding playmates. There are lots of activities for children in our town. I am a bit overwhelmed by how much work I've had to do to arrange and host the playdates we've had, but I will do this. I wonder if my son has come out a bit at school because I haven't been there. I also wonder if they are playing Lord of the Flies. I should stop now. I'd more than welcome hearing from any of you with ideas whether you've brought a child home from school or not. Thank you for listening!
Whether your child is best off in school or at home is a complex decision. We've moved several times and I find making new social contacts for my kids to be exhausting. On one hand, I don't worry about my kids "socialization" because, as you sadly found, school is generally a negative socialization experience. Yet, I do want them to have a social life!
It sounds like you are planning on homeschooling after this year is over. Is that right? So this is really just a decision about what to do for the next few months. May be if you try to think about it just being for a few months, the decision will seem less overwhelming. Will that few months make is easier with your baby? Would you like to start getting connected with the homeschooling group now, or would you rather put it off until the fall?
Leslie in MD, board moderator
The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it. We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.
We've decided to finish out the year of ds's two-morning a week pre-K program. He has brought home good things from his class and this wonderful teacher. I've also learned a lot as well ... probably many things which wouldn't surprise the many wise readers of this forum, but though simple, are revelations to me - about children, about mothering, about resilience, about patience, and also about some of my own needs.
My ds wants to continue school, and we don't want him to feel punished by pulling him out. I did take to heart the comments made here about working through things. At the same time, if we feel the situation is escalating and not improving, we will cease going to the school now.
We had had reservations about Kindergarten next year as 5 mornings away from home just seemed excessive for us and our son. That the school is moving and would mean 2-3 hours a day spent in the car by our baby and I to take our son to school just makes it not even an option. We have long leaned towards homeschooling anyway, but this school did seem one - and really the only one - we know of where we would send our child.
There are a few other factors which I did consider: (1) I don't want to build an "institution" and am fatigued by the constant communication about fund raising at the school; I'll do my part, but I've grown weary that the majority of all communication is about money with the school; (2) I do like that the Waldorf school is only part of the day for the grades - ending at 1 p.m. - and allowing children to thus enjoy family life and their parents to not be deprived of spending time with them; This was a big issue that we've had with all other schools - the length of the school day; (3) I'm happy with the outreach program starting for homeschoolers and look forward to being able to take part in the language and handwork classes with my son once he's
6 (though his dad may get to do a lot of this as he's quite excited
about it!); (4) Money. This one goes both ways. It bugs me that my son's teacher is barely making it. Few teachers can live in our town. She doesn't have a car and lives so simply. I'm ashamed that someone doing such an important job isn't treated so monetarily. At the same time, I am daunted to think that we would pay $10,000 per year to send both children to the school. While we would do it if that was the best choice, i.e. if we couldn't homeschool, it would mean foregoing some of our future security or the month-long adventure we take each year. I'm not willing to trade those as they are more than worth the lack of things in our home.
Actually, there are even many more factors that I considered. It has helped that last year I made a homeschooling journal and wrote a few pages of my feelings, reasons to homeschool, hopes, and plans. Each time I've sent ds to the morning pre-K, I've missed him. I do enjoy the time alone with my baby, but I still miss him. I've decided to look for a babysitter ... something we haven't had in over 2 years and never really did employ very often. I'm seeing that I need a few hours a week alone with each wee boy in addition to the times that my dh and I spend alone time with one or the other little guy.
So, while we're decided, I think I'll always be a bit muddled. It's
a mixed-up set of emotions and thoughts and experiences - rational and of the heart - that lead us to homeschool our children. I won't be able to separate out always the baggage of my own dark childhood and so wanting to somehow secure a safe, warm haven with beloved friends and community for my children. There are many paths, I know. I do feel very blessed to have choices, to have such a supportive and helpful and involved husband, and to have all of you as a sounding board and help.