Friday, July 30, 2010

Not-Back-To School

It has started.

My facebook friends who are teachers are posting that their kids arrive exactly a week from today which starts a flurry of replies about when kids go back. Some in a month, others in three weeks. Some parents are happy, others are sad.

I was always the sad one. I would go through summer detox every September. My girls would go into the school building and I would walk myself home unable to fill the very lonely six and a half hours. By October the worst of it would be over and I would only then be able to make productive use of this time.

I was the parent that was incensed when the Board of Ed lengthened the school day for this upcoming school year. I was the parent who recoiled in horror every time I heard a parent on the playground wish the school day lasted until 5 so they could go back to work full time. I was the parent who looked into never sending my daughter to school but chose to anyway.

I am now the parent who does not have to go through summer detox! I don’t have to get teary hugging my girls goodbye and watching them walk away from me. I don’t have to complain about a longer school day and how short the afternoon is! I don’t have anxiety about counting down the last days of summer or feeling put out by school supply lists that cost $50 and come home at the end of the year unused. I don’t have to worry about the teacher I did not want Grace to have. I don’t have to worry about pulling her out of school the week of Nature’s Classroom. I don’t have to worry about pulling her out of any program I don’t want her to participate in this year. I don’t have to run dragging Lilah behind me late as usual coming from a homeschool activity to pick up Grace at dismissal time. I don’t have to answer questions why Lilah is constantly with me and Grace is not. I feel so liberated.

I will have other worries of course. Is the curriculum I picked the best fit for my girls? Will they adjust for a full morning of lessons followed by a full afternoon of play? Will Grace miss her friends? Will I find the perfect balance of scheduled activities and free time? Will we all coexist in peace?

I have heard that mainstream families feel homeschooling is a way to retain ultimate control over your children. In terms of their education that is true. But in terms of their social growth the opposite it true. I have been able to let me girls go free in ways they never could in school. Every Tuesday for 6 hours, Lilah would trek through the woods, discovering nature led by a teacher other than me. Brownies took her to places she has never been, lead by a woman who cares for each girl as if she were her own. Should Grace participate in Destination Imagination, the practices will involve carpooling, travel and lengthy time spent away from me. I have the ability to listen to each girl’s wishes and desires, match them to appropriate activities, and then let them go to discover and learn without me. School does neither of these. It does not take personal learning preferences into consideration and certainly does not let them lead their own learning.

Now that we are in the dog-days of summer, my mind is not on what day we will start lessons (although I know when we will). I am not thinking of the latest K-Mart or Target commercials advertising the latest and greatest school supplies. I am thinking of who can come swimming in our pool with my girls. I am not comparing who got which teacher for the fall. I am comparing new gluten free recipes. I am not dreading the first day of school, I am welcoming our first day of lessons.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I am feeling much the same way. I would already be sad by seeing all of the Back-to-School supplies in the stores. I hated sending them back to school and had to try so hard not to cry until they walked in the building. Then while the other moms celebrated by going out to breakfast, I tried to relax by getting a massage! I would always start either a major project (totally redoing the breezeway or painting the kitchen) or I would start major fall cleaning the week they went back, with a lump in my throat.

I have also heard that I want to exercise more control. I like your answer :)

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