Every once in a while John and I bring up the topic of school for the kids. Though with Sophia turning four this summer, "once in a while" seems to be happening more and more often now. When she was born it seemed like we had an infinite amount of time to figure out our options, but now the big "5" and kindergarten is practically right around the corner.
John went to public school from kindergarten right thru high school, graduating second in his class from Edward Little. Smarty pants! With 13 years of public education under his belt, he is firmly in the "no public school" camp. At least not in Auburn. Not because the kids wouldn't get a good education, but because of social concerns. He says that he first heard kids using four-letter words routinely in kindergarten. Kindergarten?! Kids really are little parrots, whether they are copying parents, television, or friends . . . there's certainly more to his concerns than just that, but for both of us that's a biggie. How to protect but not overly shelter? In the world, but not of?
My schooling was much more of the mutt variety. A little public school (one-quarter of a year in third grade), and otherwise a pretty even split between three private Christian schools (five and three-quarter years total) and homeschooling (six and a half years, I finished senior year early). I did a little bouncing back and forth depending on where we were living at the time, and if my parents had the extra bucks to throw at private education.
John and I both like the idea of homeschooling . . . in theory. The reality is that I am not super excited about it because I would be the one teaching the kids. And I wish I had a better reason, but the honest truth is that I just don't want to. I will do it if we decide that homeschooling is the best option for our kids, but it's going to take a big heart change, that's for sure. John offered to teach the kids and for me to go back to work full-time, but then I brought up this tidbit:
"If you want to stay home and teach the kids, that's great. BUT you have to realize that you will not just be taking on homeschooling. You will also then be in charge of the house . . . meals, grocery shopping, bills, laundry, cleaning, doctor's appointments (pretty frequent with Sophia!) . . . all of it."
That was a bit of a reality check. John finally realized why I was so unenthusiastic about homeschooling, but it still doesn't change the fact that we have limited options. Since neither of us are excited about public school, but also don't really want to spend money on private school, it is looking more and more like our only option. Boooo.
This past September, I started helping Sophia go thru a $5 workbook from Walmart to learn her letters and numbers. Our first day is etched in my mind. It went something like this:
"Good job coloring the square blue, now we're going to move on to some tracing. The instructions say to draw a line from here to here. No, a line, not a scribble. Pick up your crayon . . . no, not there. That's not a line, that's a squiggle. Just a straight line, from here to here! Don't you know what a line is? A line is a line . . . uh, it's when you draw a line from point A to point B. Sorry, I don't know how to describe a line without using the word line!"
Things disintegrated from there. The next day Sophia asked . . .
"Can we do school again today? I will just cry a little bit."
"No, sweetie, no one will cry, Mama will just have to figure out how to explain things better."
"Well, I will just cry a little, Mama, not a lot."
Fortunately, things have smoothed out from there. I immediately lowered my expectations, and "school" now consists of about 10 minutes of workbook and then lots of library book reading. If either of us starts getting frustrated we switch gears right away, either stopping for the day, or moving to a different activity if I can't figure out how to help her understand a concept. The workbook she is doing has some things that are more difficult than others . . . we've gone back to a difficult page a couple months later and she does it just fine then.
One of Sophia's little friends comes over to "do school" with her once or twice a week, and that has been great. If one of them doesn't know an answer the other generally does, and they work together to figure things out . . . you know, the tough questions like: "Which cake has more candles, the cake with two candles, or the cake with five candles?" or "Circle the letter 'S'" or "Draw a line from the dog to his bone." I am happy to report that Sophia does know what a line is now, and can in fact draw a line from point A to point B.
What is infinitely more fun than "doing school" is seeing Sophia figure things out on her own. I am not much for keeping all the scribbled drawings she puts out, but am a little bit sad that the first person she drew with arms and legs was on a doodler, and promptly erased by the artist herself. And the next "keeper?" A snowman . . . drawn in the tub. At least I got a picture of that one . . .
Then last night I walked into the kitchen where Sophia had been playing with blocks, and saw that she had moved the square blocks from the table, and sorted the rest out . . .
I don't know how the school debate will end . . . I think for now I will continue to ignore the fact that decision time is looming ever closer, and just enjoy watching Sophia and Jude grow. I do have one more option I am working on . . . convincing my sister that she wants to homeschool Sophia. Don't you think that's a good idea, Kristin? Zuzu will be starting about the same time, so you can just have both of them!