Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 23: Open House

Last night I took Olivia to an Open House at a private school in our area.  She will be starting middle school next year, and I thought it might be a good idea to check out some schools to see if she might like to go to a regular brick-and-mortar school for a change.  She didn't really want to go but she humored me.

Growing up I had always thought of private schools as something obviously superior but not attainable (for financial reasons, mostly). And even though we sent our kids to private schools before beginning homeschooling, that preconceived notion followed me into this information session last night.  I was ready to be wowed and to feel anxious about how on earth I could get my kids into this fantastic school.

But I wasn't.  I was completely 'eh' about the whole thing.

And, the thing is, it is a really good school.  I know that intellectually.  But what we got going on over at our house is even better.  Not because I am a great teacher.  Not because I am really energetic and organized.  But because the stuff that this prestigious school was trying to achieve in its students are the very things that homeschool does without even trying.

  • they focus on student-directed interaction rather than the old top-down teacher-imparting-sacred-knowledge-model.  What this looks like is all the students sitting around a round table with the teacher and all discussing a topic, instead of the teacher standing at a chalkboard in front of rows of desks.  The phrase "there is no front row" was repeated often.  

  • they get to know their students very well.  They develop relationships with these students and, in some subjects, they follow them for two years.
This was the gist of the presentation, and I kept waiting for them to really get to the clincher.  But, this was it:  sit in a circle and get to know the kids.

I know, I know that I am oversimplifying things, and that this school can offer so many things that homeschool can't:  like sports clubs and dynamic teachers who aren't our kids' very own parents (there is nothing better than a really cool, inspiring teacher...and I know it will be virtually impossible to be cool and inspiring to one's kids when they are teenagers) and friends they might not meet otherwise and on and on.

We realize that we are giving up some things when we decide to homeschool.  And that's okay because, as I have said before, we gain a whole host of other things that school can never offer.

But - wow, this never hit me quite like it did last night -- we sit in a circle and debate issues and learn things together ALL DAY LONG and no one knows our kids as well as we do.  So, really, the heart of what this fancy shmancy school was trying to sell?  Well, we can do it better.  

And for a fraction of the price, I might add.

I don't write this to try to convince everyone to homeschool. I really think homeschool is just one very good option, out of many.  And I don't write this to toot my own horn.  I am really writing it for ME because the last few months of homeschooling have been really really hard.

I have wanted to quit really badly.

I want some alone time.  I want some quiet.  I want to get a break from the 24/7 parenting.
I want to have a house that stays clean for just a few hours.  I want to have one meal that I am not preparing for 6 people. Whine whine whine.

And then there is the worrying that perhaps, just perhaps, I am screwing my kids up for life.  Public schools are screwing up kids left and right but, at least then, you can blame someone else.  

So, I went into last night ready to be swept away by this school  and have to make a big decision about whether or not to ditch homeschooling.  I was surprised to come away actually feeling better about good ol' Tiger Academy.  If I feel like maybe, possibly, hopefully I am doing something right in terms of my kids' education then I am less likely to feel bitter about the lack of peace, quiet, and order that I have been craving.

Not saying Olivia will definitely not apply, or that she or the other kids will not go back to school at some point.  But, for now, I feel better.  

1 comment:

  1. I just went through looking into putting my kids into special education in the public schools and after such a horrendous process feel more confident than ever that homeschooling is the right choice for us. But, like you, I crave a break!