The new issue of "Brain, Child" has an article on a Mom who decided to homeschool her daughter for one year (although at the time of the writing, it's possible they may homeschool another year as well). It's really well done... and might be of interest to a lot of Moms and Dads... especially those who may want to try homeschooling for a short time.
What I found interesting is that she talks about a lot of Moms homeschooling their daughters in Middle School due to the social pressures that exist at that time.
It was definitely worth reading and I do think short-term homeschoolers should have more support, but it did seem like the mother in this article was more concerned about what she thought her daughter needed or wanted than what her daughter might have actually needed or wanted. She pitied her daughter during the Halloween parade, but what did her daughter think? She thought her daughter would have wanted to be in the class play but she didn't. She assumed that a fun afternoon at a tea room on Valentine's Day couldn't possibly compare to the party in the 5th grade classroom. I'm curious if her daughter saw it the same way.
This quote sums it up:
"Julia has even begun to ask about homeschooling for the eighth grade, a possibility that I have not ruled out. But in the meantime, my daughter needs more time away from Mom (excessive mothering is one of the most common concerns about homeschoolers)."
That's the mother deciding she needs more time away from Mom. Excessive mothering might be one of the most common concerns ABOUT homeschooling (along with socialization I would think) but that doesn't make it true!
I think the topic of short term homeschooling is a good one, but it bugs me that she made some negative comments (one implying unschooling doesn't really work, for example) about things she really doesn't know enough about to criticize. However, I did enjoy most of the article. I'm not purposely trying to nitpick.
What I didn't like about it warranted comment, IMO.
Well, if you're planning on only HSing for a short time, unschooling may NOT work. The point of USing is to just follow the child's lead and trust that he or she will learn what he or she needs when it's needed. But if you're planning to return to the "artificial environment" of school, then it might be difficult if you've "missed" learning certain skills that were taught to your classmates the previous school year and are now being built upon.
Did the woman say that she needed a break from her DD or that her DD needed a break from Mom? IMO, the Mom could truly only speak for herself and her own needs.
ITA that unschooling is probably not going to work very well when you do a year off from school--by the time you deschool and start getting into it, your child is going to need to prepare for the next grade level. But that's not what she wrote.
In the article she wrote:
Halfway through our year Julia nicknamed me "the volcano," because of my tendency to swing from a state of calm, green dormancy into a heap of spitting lava, especially on those days when Julia seemed to get nothing done.
This is where advocates of unschooling are bound to wave their flags. "Follow the child 's interests," they always say. "Then she'll be self-motivated. Let dragon books lead to lessons in flight and fire, studies of winged dinosaurs and the legends of ancient China."
In fact, we tried all of that. But whether the subject was dragons or fractions, the result was always the same. If I was not nearby to push and prod and cheer, Julia would muddle through her tasks at the pace of an aging sloth.
Then she went on to tell about other homeschooling moms' frustrations with their kids' foot-dragging and ended with the story of one mother sending her kids back on the schoolbus the next year.
Her point wasn't that unschooling doesn't work well for short-term homeschooling. She may have been thinking that, but it's not what came across in the article.
One of my best friends was homeschooled for eighth grade because her mother didn't like the social dynamics of her class. In that year she did two grades' worth of material and started the next year with a different group of kids. They were pretty traditional homeschoolers following a typical curriculum, she says, but school took up less than 4 hours a day and they were doing a full Hebrew curriculum in addition to normal things.
So one thing I learned from that story was just how much time is wasted in school.
But the part that made the biggest impression on me: her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of weeks after she returned to school and died two years later. My friend was ever so grateful for the time she spent getting to know her mother the year before.
It's such a terrible thing, that kids spend all day away from their families.