I think that maybe I have a unique perspective on schooling because we have been very flexible and willing to try many different ways of schooling. Our K-Girl asked at 2.5 to go to playschool so we sent her for 2 years. She then went to an alternative school from K-2, home schooled for grade 3, then went to an arts school for grade 4, then back to the alternative school for 5-6, and is now at an all girls program for 7th grade. She is contemplating home schooling next year again, weighing pros and cons and talking through her decision making process with me. Our R on the other hand, dropped out of playschool, didn’t finish kindergarten at the alternative school, home schooled (half with me and half with a private program) for grade 1, tried the alternative school again in grade 2 (but only because I had to work and she missed a lot of it by choice), and then I was able to home school her again full time for grade 3 and this year, grade 4. It is apparent to us that she would not thrive in a traditional school environment at this point in her life. Our daughters are two different people, and we’ve tried to make the best schooling decisions we could, with their input, within our limitations and constraints.
On Facebook, I follow a few home schooling pages. I have friends who make all sorts of schooling choices, some who attend strong academic programs, others who attend arts schools, regular mainstream community schools, alternative schools, people who home school but follow a curriculum, others who unschool, and everywhere in between. I know that each of them is making what they feel are the best choices for their children, based on their own realities.
And so I feel a little exasperated lately with this attitude of intolerance to other peoples decisions or opinions regarding schooling. Contrary to what home schoolers may believe, we aren’t doing everything right. Our children aren’t necessarily always better off than those who go to school… It depends on the child and family. It depends on their reality which very well might be a lot different than your own. Instead of putting down those people who choose more traditional schooling practices, why don’t we focus on building up a positive image of home schooling? The school experiences my kids have had, have had both positives and negatives… Some more than others. I’m also very disappointed in the myths that continue to be perpetuated by the ignorance of home schooling. Many people who oppose home schooling, do so because they haven’t challenged the traditional system or it’s process to be able to see that there are indeed other ways to approach schooling. Home schooling comes in many forms, and we all choose our ways for different reasons. I fail to see how competing with each other, having a contest about the “right” way helps anyone. I really think there’s only a best way for your family.
The point is, what works for one kid may not work for another. What works for one family may not work for another. We are all entitled to make the best choices we can for our children and our families. For us, we reassess often, because as people we are constantly evolving. What worked for us yesterday maybe doesn’t work for us today but it might again work for us tomorrow. I am grateful we live in a country where we actually have choice.