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I've gotten asked a least a dozen times in the last few months why Mini-moose isn't in school yet.  He'll be two in a couple weeks, and he's tall for his age, so people tend to think he's older than he reason is.  Still...he's not even two!

 

Maybe because of the questions, I've started looking more and more seriously into our options.  Without me writing pages and pages on that, though, I'd like to hear what you do.

 

Public?  (I think there are different kinds of public schools in more populated areas, right?)  Private?  Homeschool?  Unschool?  What works for your kid and your family?  What doesn't?  What do you like and dislike about your current situation?  What would be ideal?

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The little man goes to a pretty big daycare/preschool.  He's usually there about 9.5 hours because of our work schedules.  They don't really have a "philosophy", except that it's okay for kids to play a lot and get dirty, and that pretending to shoot each other with guns feels scary and is not okay.  That's about it.  They have circle time and dance class and Spanish class and stuff, but those seem more like social skills activities than academics, to me.  The little man loves it and seems to be totally fine.  He'll probably go to the public school near our house when he's ready for kindergarten - we don't have the money for anything else, and both the life duet and I went to public schools our whole lives and were raised by public school teachers, so we feel okay navigating the system, and feel okay about our own education and love for learning/reading/art/etc carrying the little man through what public schools don't offer anymore.  Granted, he hasn't exhibited any behavioral or academic needs that the childcare environments we've got access to can't meet - our assessment of the situation would probably change a lot if that were the case.

Ermmm...just to be clear, I did not actually quit a job to do this. I was, and still am, working about 5-7 hours a week freelance at a job I hate. If I were working a job I loved that was only doable during school hours, you can bet I wouldn't have given it up either. Financial stability and career satisfaction were definitely not part of the equation in our decision. I am DYING to be working in my field. I miss it more and more every year. But right now it's not financially feasible because of the obnoxious price of daycare and after-school care.

That said, the second, and far more important, this is this: You're not selfish for not wanting to homeschool him, bap. You're allowed to be happy in your work, and it's damn smart of you to realize you wouldn't be happy homeschooling. And if you wouldn't be, he wouldn't be either.

The best advice I got when I was pregnant the first time was: "Your children fit into your life. Not the other way around." The areas of life where I don't honor that advice, I'm miserable. The education decision is as much for the parents as it is for the children.

bap2 said:

There is definite guilt realizing how unhappy he is every day and knowing that I'm too selfish to quit my job like Oracle did and stay home with him and homeschool him. Yes, he'd be happier that way, but is it worth it in the long run?

Seriously.  That can't be said enough.

The Oracle said:

The best advice I got when I was pregnant the first time was: "Your children fit into your life. Not the other way around." The areas of life where I don't honor that advice, I'm miserable. The education decision is as much for the parents as it is for the children.

Word.

ks said:
Seriously.  That can't be said enough.

The Oracle said:

The best advice I got when I was pregnant the first time was: "Your children fit into your life. Not the other way around." The areas of life where I don't honor that advice, I'm miserable. The education decision is as much for the parents as it is for the children.

Right now it seems that we have the only 3.5 year old not in pre-school in our circle of friends and family. I'm home with him two days a week, and he goes to my MIL's for the other three. He sees friends and his cousin on a regular basis and has no trouble socializing with other kids (or adults). "Academically" (in quotes because I understand it's a ridiculous word to use for a child his age) he's always been interested in learning and advanced. He's known the alphabet for two years, can count to 1,000, has started doing simple addition, knows about the planets in our solar system, knows some simple anatomy, etc. I honestly didn't see a point of starting formal schooling this year.

I briefly looked at a Montessori school, but its schedule and price didn't match up with our needs. It's five days/week from 9-3. We obviously can't work those hours. It costs $10,000/year, which is what my parents paid for me to go to college in the 90s. I know times have changed, but I can't justify paying that for him to play for a few hours, eat lunch, then nap.

We live in the suburbs in New England, and I'm afraid there won't be a lot of options for his schooling for next fall. Everyone we know talks about him being gifted, and I don't quite know how to approach that need. We teach him tons of things at home by reading books and just talking to him about things that interest him. So far that works very well, but I'm very nervous about his future schooling.

Reading through all of this has been really interesting.  We're planning to homeschool at this point, for two reasons.  One is that we aren't happy with any of our options.  The local public schools range from meh to really, really horrible, and the private school options are beyond what we can afford and are only marginally better.  I passed through public school and two of the three private schools before I graduated; the Engineer was in public school the whole time, but in six or seven different places around the country before his family settled here when he was in high school. 

 

The second reason is also related to living in an "economically-depressed"/kind of backwoods area.  The Engineer is, well, an engineer, and that's one of the top-notch jobs around here.  We're not rich, but between sticking to a tight budget and buying a smallish house in an area where housing costs are extremely low, we plan to be completely debt-free in the next five or six years.  Basically, there will be no reason for me to go back to work once our kids are old enough to go to school unless some biotech company moves into the area and I actually want the job.  And yes, I understand that I am seriously, seriously lucky, and I'm grateful--but it does come with the price of living in a redneck town that I hate and that has crappy schools and little opportunity to do anything other than obsess over high school football.

 

We've been looking at Charlotte Mason and several other concepts/schools of thought, and both the Engineer and I really, really like them.  We're also planning to get a timeshare once the house is paid off so we can really take the chance to show the kid(s) the world.  "Regular" school wouldn't allow that.  We do plan on joining--or forming, if necessary--a co-op.  As you'd expect in an area like this (lots of conservative, church-y types who don't want their kids' minds "polluted" by secular school), homeschooling is pretty well tolerated and far from unknown.  I've known kids (now adults) who were homeschooled very badly and who are social and academic trainwrecks.  I've also seen average kids who had their needs met and were able to excel, and I've seen above-average kids who have been able to do amazing things.  I know everything's theory in my head right now, but I have a lot of hope. 

 

And if it doesn't work out?  It's not like public school is the devil.  Our local schools might not be the greatest, but they're schools, and the kids there (particularly the ones with parents who care and can back things up at home) do learn what they need to in order to be functional adults.

 

One last thing:  Please don't take any of what I hope to do as bashing what anyone else does or wants to do.  I'm talking extremely specifically about the handful of particular schools in the area in which I live.  Not your schools, not your town.  I would kill to have my kid in the public school systems that some of my friends' kids attend--and staying home there simply wouldn't be option due to how much more it would cost to live there.

It killed my edit, so here goes.  There are two large daycare centers here, and Moose went to the better of them with frightening results before I found a smaller home daycare that we loved.  I'm pretty sure there's only one private preschool left, and it's really expensive (for around here--nowhere near $10k/year!).  The rest closed down when Head Start became popular, and most kids go to the latter.  The one Moose would attend is pretty freaking awful, though, and we would be on a secondary waiting list anyway due to income.  So basically, I can't really put him in preschool even though I'd originally planned on it.

Roomie: Our preschool actually started as a playgroup about 20 years ago.  At some point, the parents decided they wanted some help and hired a teacher for a few hours a week.  From there it grew to about 90 families over the 20 years.  If we hadn't landed a spot at our preschool (it was lottery-based), I might have tried that option myself.  

 

Bap2: The guilt runs all ways.  My kid loves preschool so much, that I just feel guilty he hasn't been in daycare for the last year or more!  And that he isn't there full-time.  Many daycares that I looked at had a similar philosophy to our preschool (of course they had long wait lists, blah, blah), but there's many days that I don't question that we might all be happier with that option.  (But, now that I'm knocked up again, I'm putting those questions to rest for a few months...)

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