I'm back, as promised, with part 2 of my Keeping it Real post about my great education debate. It is the debate raging in my head and in the United States. If you missed part 1, you can read that in my first post: Keeping it Real with My Great Education Debate ~ Part 1.
In my last post I told you the story of my oldest daughter, Snowflake. How we ended up homeschooling and how she is in public school this year. I ended telling you a bit about what I think of the education she is getting and I left you hanging…wondering what all of this had to even do with a debate about education. The debate swirling in my head relates to my youngest daughter, Pumpkin. (BTW – I finally did an about me page, so you can see both of them on that page.)
She has seen her older sister go to school. I hate to even go to this part of the post because it brings up a topic homeschoolers hate to discuss(at least I do). Socialization. I swear to you the first thing we are told when we tell you we homeschool is that you (the non-homeschool parent) don't have the patience to homeschool. The next question is with regard to how we socialize our child. Why is that? Why is socialization the first question? Why not how am educating them? Why not what are they learning? Why is socialization the first concern?
While we are on socialization, why also do we want a bunch of 5 year olds learning to socialize together? Ummm….has anyone noticed that they don't know what they are doing? They often don't know how to treat each other kindly and with respect, etc. One adult to 30 kids and the kids are not going to have full supervision to learn to ‘socialize.' I'm not saying that this is a horrible process, but we all know, and I remember many instances of really hurt feelings in this ‘socialization' process. It wasn't the most positive experience for me and for many kids. In some ways, it changed the core of who I was and taught me a more herd mentality…I need to fit in and not do anything that makes me stick out. I don't want to get picked on or called out. Now, I don't want my girls being raised that way. I want them to be free to be themselves. Not to feel like they have to conform. Of course, I'm also me and I've taught them manners and how to behave in social settings, but I, who has 43 years of experience, have taught them those skills….not another 5-year-old. Oh geez…. I'm so going to hear about this from many people….oh well…I'm keeping it real.
I'm just really sick of the whole concept that because I homeschool, my kids must be starving for social interaction. There are plenty of ways in which my kids have had social interaction and one of the really nice things about homeschooling is that they learn to socialize with a wide range of ages. Not just one age group. I think in that regard, my kids are better prepared for the future adult world.
All of that being said, we have also struggled with socialization. It is something I hate to talk about and bring up because it is such an annoying topic and I hate to give those that don't understand homeschooling fuel for their socialization debate. Let me reiterate…my kids have opportunities to socialize with other children multiple times per week with different classes, a homeschool co-op, Girl Scouts, etc. They are not socially deprived but where I live people are spread out. Often to get together for a playdate is at least a 20 minute drive and it ends up being that those kinds of social interactions don't happen as much as my girls would like because of the time factor. It also happens that for my older daughter, she has had a hard time connecting and making friends that are lasting friendships. I think she is the type of personality that needs more time to connect and build the bonds of friendship, as in daily contact. I couldn't provide that in our current homeschool. It is one of the reasons why she enjoys going to school despite the frustration of her education.
My younger daughter, Pumpkin, is now lonely. She and her sister are best friends. Her best friend is now gone for most of the day and while she loves having more uninterrupted time with her mom, it has left an empty hole for her.
Pumpkin is in 2nd grade and reads on a 6th grade level. She is already learning multiplication, division, and fractions. She can write multiple paragraphs on a topic. She is struggles with handwriting and spelling, but everything else is above grade level. Far above grade level.
And now you know the education debate raging in my mind. What do I do? I can't afford private school. Snowflake has settled into public school and is thriving there. She desires to learn more, but is otherwise thriving in the educational choice we have made for her this year. I think it was a great choice for her.
So for next year, do I hand over my Pumpkin to them now as well? If they are teaching 7th graders the main idea of paragraphs(as I talked about in Part 1), what are they teaching 2nd and 3rd graders? It is really sad the number of days that Snowflake comes home from school and what she was learning in 7th grade is what I was teaching Pumpkin that day in 2nd grade.
Pumpkin is interested in going to school, because like her sister, she thinks that the daily interaction with kids will be fun. I know in some ways she is right. There is a part of me though that thinks waiting until she is a little bit older will be better. While Snowflake is very definitive in what she believes and knows is right and wrong, I can see Pumpkin is less self-assured and I would love to give her a little more time to grow into herself before other kids have the opportunity to make her doubt herself even more. That kind of stuff just rarely happens in homeschooling. Educationally, I have serious doubts that the school system can really nurture her mind and her current education level, even if she were to qualify to some kind of Gift and Talented program.
There are so many thoughts and debates swirling. The other thing that we have had a hard time adjusting to this year is the lack of quality family time with the school schedule. It is relentless and shortens the day to getting ready in the morning, school day, home with time for homework, making a lunch for the following day, a little time together(short), dinner, getting ready for bed and finally bedtime. Compared to the quality and quantity of time that we used to have it has really decreased my closeness with Snowflake and my time with her. She feels left out sometimes because I still have that non-rushed time with Pumpkin.
All of these debates rage in my mind. What to do with a bright 2nd grader who misses her best friend and wants to see what her sister is experiencing.
The truth is that I want to keep her at home another year (maybe more…but I take these things year by year). The other truth is that I have no idea if that is the best thing for her. I have no idea if that is the best thing for me. I have no idea if that is the best thing for our family. That is the most scary place as a mom…the raging debate with no clear answer of what is best.
Truthfully, it would be so much easier for me to send her to school. I would have more time to work and I love my job and would love to pour more hours into this blog. I am also totally willing to sacrifice that for my child(ren). She will only be with me for 10 more years. Snowflake will only be with me for 5 more years. Those years are too few and my job will be here when they are not.
That being said…what is best? Educationally, Pumpkin being homeschooled is better for her, but I get it. She wants to see what her sister and some of her friends do at school every day.
What I truly wish is that our education system was different and I didn't have to debate this so hotly in my mind. I wish that there were a plethora of education options so that I could select an environment that would be great fit for my child instead of my child having to conform to the educational system which is designed for one type of learner.
I don't have that…so the debate will rage on.
As I write this, I don't have the answer for us right now. I'm proceeding with assuming I will be homeschooling 1 child, though it may be 2 and it may be none. What would you do? I almost hate to ask and hate to open this up to discussion because I know from personal experience with blogging and hot topics that people can be mean. Yet, for those of you who are my target audience, I know you struggle with these things as well. I know you can be kind and we can talk like friends….so what would you do?