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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To keep a very long story short, I am currently trying to decide between continuing to homeschool ds or sending him to Montessori. I should preface this by saying that I was an AMI Montessori teacher before staying home. One of my sticking points in deciding is that I LOVE Montessori's focus on developing community. The children live in and share their classroom environment on a daily basis. Classroom life is constructed as a microcosm of society where they can learn their role in caring for the environment and experience participating in a functioning "village" if you will (preparing food, handling and appreciating diversity, managing conflicts, etc). Personally this feels like a really important component of "education" and I worry that if I homeschool him, he will not have the opportunities to experiene this "village" environment. In homeschooling life, what do you see as a comparable experience? If they only meet with or share an environment with other kids once a week or so, does that give the same effect? How have your children developed their sense of community? TIA.
 

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Hi Tammy,

I teach Spanish to two homeschooled brothers once a week for 2 hours. In many many lovely conversations with their mom, I have learned that she considers the family the first "community" for her kids. She's constantly asked at each school review w/the county school board what they are doing for socialization, team work, and community building (the boys are 13 and 14 years old). For her, the boys learn the skills they need to be socially adapt and contributing members of community through their interactions with their family (including extended family). Of course, they also have friends whom they see several times a week, and so are socializing with their peers as well. In the 1 1/2 years I've been working with them, I've seen- and have been a part of- situations in which they learned appropriate responses to social situations and how to manage conflict.

Would you say that your family could be considered a community for your son, in which he would learn all of the skills you mention?

Hope this helps.

Jennifer
 

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Great question, I don't have any answers though. I just started homeschooling my 5 yr old this year and was also trained in AMI (0-3)before having babies. I am also trying to decide between sending her to Montessori next year as she was in a M school when she was 3 and loved it and the sense of community you are describing was wonderful. I love how the children "ran" their classroom, they all functioned so well in the environemnt and it is something I cannot possibly replicate at home, even with siblings... I just don't have 30 3-6 yr olds
 

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Spencersmom, I'm another AMI-trained teacher who's thinking about homeschooling, and I have the exact same concern.

I don't have any qualms about the quality of his education or his intellectual growth if we do decide to homeschool. As an introvert whose natural inclination is to stay home and read a book, though, I know that 'getting out' will be something I will have to make a conscious and constant effort towards. The last thing I want to do is place obstacles before DS, so I really want to know what I'm doing before we commit to this. (DS is only 10 months old, so I have time!)

I agree that the family is an important part of socialization, but I think it's good to learn to handle less comfortable and less familiar situations. I love how the Montessori environment takes the spotlight away from adults and encourages the children to work through situations on their own (within reason). The older ones mentor and model for the younger. This is what I worry my DS will miss out on, especially as he is our only child. We also won't have much extra money for classes if I'm not working, so I'm not sure how that would work. I'd really like him to have opportunities to socialize without me being right in the background all the time.

I have considered doing a modified Montessori 'daycare' with a few other children when DS is between the ages of 3 and 6. This would provide some of that 'village' atmosphere; it would be in-home for us, and I could afford some of the Montessori materials with the extra income it'd bring it. Have you considered anything like that? I wish you were in our area - I'd love to have a co-op group with other likeminded parents!
 

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The difference as I see it is that instead of a microcosom or insular replication of a community, h/sing children are functioning in the community at large. It's not an artifical construct as it is in a classroom or a school situation. The benefits in my opinion are huge: h/s kids define themselves and therefore act as members of a larger community, which is diverse in age, nationalities, experiences and cultures. A classroom and a school, especially a private one, the community all has similar value set and in the community of a class room the kids are of the same/similar ages, likely with similar economic status and experiences etc, and the adults that they interact with tend to be ones in position of authority. And it's one that a child is assigned to rather than having to develop the skills around creating a community of their own.

For our family we have connected with a group of about 8 other homeschoolers that we see regularly for co-op, lessons, play dates, field trips etc. While we don't see all the kids daily, we typically have an interaction with one or more of these families 3 to 4 times a week on average. They also consider the adults and different aged siblings to be part of their community - and so they have a comfort level interacting with people of all ages. My kids also have friendships with neighbourhood kids, kids from sports or lessons. They consider librarians, local shop keepers, neighbours, instructors from their lessons all to be their community.

And they have a sense of responsibility to that community which seems more invested and more healthy to me. It's hard to define the quality without sounding like I am bashing schools - but I'll try anyway. My son recently was very interested in our municipal election and city planning in part because he gets the value of the library and the rec centre where he takes chess lessons, the implications of taxes and sidewalk plowing for our elderly neighbours, the need to support our local book store etc because these represent his community - they aren't addendums to it as they would be if his primary community were 25 other kids similar to him all housed in a microcosm of a community.

I can understand your concern and had a similar one before I pulled my son out of school but I have found that the benefits of helping my children grow connections in a broader community which is more representative of the community they will experience as adults to be far far more valuable.

Karen
 

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I think of community more expansively than just other kids. I think that we have lots of communities that we participate in, and I think that all of them teach my kids something about caring for others and developing community-enhancing skills.

Just some examples off the top of my head from this past week: sharing goggles with a friend who forgot hers at gym-and-swim; shopping for and helping Momma prepare food for a family from our Dharma Center whose mother is very ill; helping a younger child at Spanish who fell and hit her head; trying to mesh several competing playtime desires at homeschool group; helping a friend finish and serve dinner when we were visiting; reading books about Ramadan and Eid and discussing how their uncle fasts during Ramadan; cleaning up toys and helping to sweep and vacuum at the Dharma Center; working out argument among siblings; letting an older person line-jump at the supermarket ...

... and those are just things I can think of off the top of my head. To me, my kids don't live in a village. They live in a great big world and have their places in many separate yet oft-intersecting communities. I think they encounter more diversity and chances to practice their skills in "the real world" than they would in a classroom desgined to mimic the real world.

JM.02!

Namaste!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Would you say that your family could be considered a community for your son, in which he would learn all of the skills you mention?

Hope this helps.

Jennifer[/QUOTE]

Hi Jennifer. Thanks for your response and the thought provoking question. Yes, I do think my family is a community for my son. Very valuable life lessons are learned through our interactions. I do, however, think that there is something about family interactions that's too safe. I don't know if that makes sense but there is a level of ease and familiarity with family that is missing from relationships with other people in the larger community. I think the family is a good place to start BECAUSE it is so safe but, at some point the child needs to have those out-of-family experiences.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spencersmom View Post
at some point the child needs to have those out-of-family experiences.
I agree with you, but I also think that homeschooled kids do get these experiences. Just because children are homeschooled doesn't mean that they are ALWAYS with their parents. Like any kids, the older they get, the more non-parent time they tend to have. Perhaps it's a difference in when and how much non-parent time we think our kids need.

Namaste!
 

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My hs'd children are much more 'in the community' than they could be in a school. A school is one building. Hsers get to experience the reality of being in an actual, real community, rather than being limited to the few kids and their parents in their own classroom. Further, ime of having children attend a private school, most independant school communities are not particularly diverse. It may be diverse culture or color-wise, but not socioeconomically (unless the school is very wealthy and is active about seeking true diversity, which is rare. Our hsing community is far more diverse on all levels).

My 12 yr old attends a private school, and while I enjoy his school community- there are some fine teachers and families there, my hsers world is much bigger.

I honestly don't see how a building can be a better community than an actual community can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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Originally Posted by ochoco View Post
I agree that the family is an important part of socialization, but I think it's good to learn to handle less comfortable and less familiar situations. I love how the Montessori environment takes the spotlight away from adults and encourages the children to work through situations on their own (within reason). The older ones mentor and model for the younger. This is what I worry my DS will miss out on, especially as he is our only child. We also won't have much extra money for classes if I'm not working, so I'm not sure how that would work. I'd really like him to have opportunities to socialize without me being right in the background all the time.
I think these opportunities would come from joining a co-op type situation. And, as your child gets older, I bet there will be more and more opportunities to socialize without you being right there.

Quote:
have considered doing a modified Montessori 'daycare' with a few other children when DS is between the ages of 3 and 6. This would provide some of that 'village' atmosphere; it would be in-home for us, and I could afford some of the Montessori materials with the extra income it'd bring it. Have you considered anything like that? I wish you were in our area - I'd love to have a co-op group with other likeminded parents!
This sounds like a great idea. I have thought about this too but I worry about the money needed to purchase Montessori materials. I know many of them are teacher made but - geez, that would take a lot of time! Unfortunately time and money aren't something I have a lot of. This is one of the many, many times when I wish Montessori was a lot cheaper. A lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
dharmamama and Karenwith4 - You know, I couldn't agree more, especially with this "I think they encounter more diversity and chances to practice their skills in "the real world" than they would in a classroom desgined to mimic the real world."
I have been mulling this over for like an hour while making dinner/cleaning up. I wholeheartedly agree that the best way to understand and learn to function in community is to function in a real life, honest to goodness community!! It would be real life learning as opposed to the artificial type environment of a classroom where, as you say, everyone is relatively the same age and socioeconomic class. This may be beating a dead horse but, there is a nuance of this discussion that I am still getting stuck on. Please bear with me. Do you think there is any value to a classroom atmosphere where the kids are in contact with each other day in and day out? Or does that mimic the familiarity of the family? I guess I see that the classroom would bring up more issues/chances/encounters and in more depth **than would exist with people you see less frequently. I guess it is the depth thing I am getting hung up on. I have this sentimental soft spot for having a best friend that you see every day. You really get to know these people well (I mean in Montessori unlike public school where you aren't allowed to talk half the time). These type of friendships bring up some valuable opportunites for learning about relationships. Am I wrong in feeling that homeschoolers don't have the same opportunities to build these really close friendships since they don't see the same people as frequently? As I am writing that it seems so stupid but, honestly, this is one of my fears.

My mom is here to watch ds!!! I have more to say. Be back in a little while. Thank you for your responses. This is really helping.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spencersmom View Post
Do you think there is any value to a classroom atmosphere where the kids are in contact with each other day in and day out?
Honestly? No.

I have several very close friends. I am glad that I don't have to spend all day most days with them. I like them. Heck, I even love them. But I would rather spend my days pursuing the things that interest me and are relevant to my life rather than pursuing "the group's" activity. I went through 17 years of school, and the forced socialization I experienced did not benefit me as an adult, even when I had a job, because the school environment does not resemble any other environment in society that I have experienced.

Namaste!
 

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I think this depends on where you live and what you have - or can create - in the way of neighbors and a homeschooling support group. Our next door neighbor went to school, but our homeschooled son was his best friend. Our son had earlier gone to school from kindergarten to first grade, but his best friend wasn't in either of those schools. I can't even imagine the possiblity that our son could have missed out on the opportunity to explore and learn about relationships and community when homeschooling.

I realize some are referring to community as the larger one we live in, but he also had his smaller homeschooling community and also his other circle of friends. You need to be willing to get out and make things happen, make playdate phone calls, have parties, drive your child to get togethers, and generally be an active part of whatever community you're hoping for your child to be part of. I personally don't think a co-op is necessary, although for a few years we did used to have weekly get togethers for fun group activities beyond those our support group did.

And in his teen years, our son had a large and tight community of local and long distance friends who knew one another from an outdoor adventures program a lot of the teen homeschoolers participated in - and more yet from the statewide circle of friends they had who got together each summer at our homeschooling conference. Many of them have stayed close into and beyond college years - there will always be a special bond.

I think it's an illusion that homeschoolers don't have a community of their own. But the day to day dyamics of relationships in the artificial world set up by schools is missing, and that's probably a good thing. Friendships don't meet up with as much friction and dysfunction as they do in school settings - and I think that's helpful in allowing them to grow up less reactively.

I'll refer you to an article I wrote about my family's experience - it has comments from my son and his dad which I think can be helpful with your concern: Homeschooling - It's a Wonderful Life!

As of whether there's value to a classroom atmosphere where the kids come in contact with each other day in and day out, I don't personally have great memories of classroom communities - school was generally okay, but nothing I ever especially treasured, and some years were largely awful. I don't think they learn anything more from that kind of a setting - and often learn a lot worse! It took my son awhile to get back to being his old sweet self once I got him out of school after 1st grade.

Lillian
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spencersmom View Post
Do you think there is any value to a classroom atmosphere where the kids are in contact with each other day in and day out? Or does that mimic the familiarity of the family? I guess I see that the classroom would bring up more issues/chances/encounters and in more depth **than would exist with people you see less frequently. I guess it is the depth thing I am getting hung up on. I have this sentimental soft spot for having a best friend that you see every day. You really get to know these people well (I mean in Montessori unlike public school where you aren't allowed to talk half the time). These type of friendships bring up some valuable opportunites for learning about relationships. Am I wrong in feeling that homeschoolers don't have the same opportunities to build these really close friendships since they don't see the same people as frequently? As I am writing that it seems so stupid but, honestly, this is one of my fears.
Honestly - no I don't think that there is value in the daily contact in a classroom that can't be more appropriately gained in other situations. Schools are a poor substitute for both community and family. In fact I think the daily dependence on peers for socialization can be a dangerous situation for a lot of kids. (I'm currently re-reading Hold on to your Kids
)

Are you able to build close friendships with people you don't spend 8 consecutive hours a day with for 5 days a week? Are you still best friends with the person in grade 2 or grade 6 that you saw every day? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm just trying to reframe the discussion. I think that we get in such a school mindset that it can be hard to see what life without it will look like. And we forget that friendships in school can be formed because of common circumstances, can be intense and wonderful, but can also fade away if the common circumstances aren't maintained - similar to how friendships formed in a work environment can often fade when a job situation changes.

Children in a school setting have a readily available pool of potential friends and that availability can and likely does affect the choices they make and the skills they learn to grow a friendship. Homeschooled children learn how to tend a friendship in different ways - often ways more similar to how adults grow and tend friendships. Their friendships tend to be based more on choice and a natural affiliation or on common ground outside a defined situation.

this has been an interesting discussion.

Karen
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spencersmom View Post
dharmamama and Karenwith4 - You know, I couldn't agree more, especially with this "I think they encounter more diversity and chances to practice their skills in "the real world" than they would in a classroom desgined to mimic the real world."
I have been mulling this over for like an hour while making dinner/cleaning up. I wholeheartedly agree that the best way to understand and learn to function in community is to function in a real life, honest to goodness community!! It would be real life learning as opposed to the artificial type environment of a classroom where, as you say, everyone is relatively the same age and socioeconomic class. This may be beating a dead horse but, there is a nuance of this discussion that I am still getting stuck on. Please bear with me. Do you think there is any value to a classroom atmosphere where the kids are in contact with each other day in and day out? Or does that mimic the familiarity of the family? I guess I see that the classroom would bring up more issues/chances/encounters and in more depth **than would exist with people you see less frequently. I guess it is the depth thing I am getting hung up on. I have this sentimental soft spot for having a best friend that you see every day. You really get to know these people well (I mean in Montessori unlike public school where you aren't allowed to talk half the time). These type of friendships bring up some valuable opportunites for learning about relationships. Am I wrong in feeling that homeschoolers don't have the same opportunities to build these really close friendships since they don't see the same people as frequently? As I am writing that it seems so stupid but, honestly, this is one of my fears.

My mom is here to watch ds!!! I have more to say. Be back in a little while. Thank you for your responses. This is really helping.

I think you are giving far too much power to arbitrary age groupings. Those groupings are just not natural, imo.

People of all ages learn so much more in real situations. Same -age school groupings are arbitrary and artifical. Those are forced settings, imo. I do not think they are the least bit 'natural'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks again for your replies. This indeed has been an interesting discussion.

What I am realizing is that my reservations and my fears about homeschooling come from my inexperience with it and from my own insecurities about whether the arrangement would be the best for both myself and my son. I am not worried about getting out, being in contact with other homeschoolers or any of that. We are already in a preschool co-op and we have a large homeschooling population in my state. I am worried that my son will be limited by my own shortcomings and I am not sure at this point how to compensate for those. For example, I have the patience of a saint with other people's children but I tend to get frustrated with my own when trying to "teach" him something. Or, because I am the product of institutionalized education, I have a hard time thinking outside of the box (obviously
) and I am assuming that he won't be able to if I can't. Of course I don't want this for him.

If you have any suggestions for how to get through these feelings or if you know of any books that help you decide if homeschooling is right for you, would you pass them along please?
 

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I think that school settings give a sense of 'normalcy'. It's what we know, so it must be right.

My youngest son is in a really wonderful private school. We love it. He loves it. However, for all I love about it, it's not giving him all that I would like him to have, freedom-wise.

He gets all you're talking about-- all those 'school' opportunites to 'work things out' and 'get to know people'. I think what he is getting is great---for a school. He loves school. He hs'd for a time (although not from his impressionable beginnings) and wanted to go back to school after a couple of hsing years. He gets everything you mentioned in your OP. It's all nice. It's all good. His teachers are sweet, and we are paying quite a huge sum of money for this.

However. It's not all that. My hsers get all of that and more. The only thing is, he doesn't have choices in doing or not doing certain things withoug risking a bad grade-- and he is so not about bad grades. His freedom is curtailed, imo, and he's not getting the variety of experiences his hsing siblings are getting. Yet, he's happy as a clam, and we're crazy enough about exploring the world, that he gets the best of both. Yet it's true he likes the pace of school and he likes the routine of it. I can respect that. Plusm I do like many of his teachers. I would not choose this for him, but I respect that he chooses it for him.

But I don't think for a moment he's getting more or better experiences in group settings, getting along, blah blah blah.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
I'll refer you to an article I wrote about my family's experience - it has comments from my son and his dad which I think can be helpful with your concern: Homeschooling - It's a Wonderful Life! Lillian
Excellent read. I have a hard time trusting in a process that I don't know intimately. I am a bit of a control freak
. It was good to hear that reservations and worries are normal. After all, this is a pretty HUGE decision and maybe all my research and questions are just reflecting my commitment to doing right by my son. Yeah, I'll go with that theory
.
 
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