Monday, September 24, 2012

The schooling decision.

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This past Saturday marked the official start of Autumn, my absolute favorite time of year (I know, I know, me and every other blogger out there!). Autumn makes me think of many things: brightly colored leaves, crisp air, apple cider, and hayrides to name a few. But more then anything else, autumn always makes me think of school.

Now its been 8 years since I graduated college, but those 19 years of school (including kindergarten and two years of preschool) become quite ingrained in you. And its only a year until Gwen will start a preschool program, so it is definitely on my mind. As a work outside the house mom (we're all working moms!), I think a lot about the what ifs and the what might have been regarding staying at home, especially when I read about homeschooling and unschooling.

I'll say this first: There is no way, in this time and place, that I could be a stay-at-home mom. If I'd done it from the start, never gone back to work, it would be different, but I did and for me, that ship has sailed. We'd have fun, for sure, but we'd drive each other crazy. She's so used to having the other kids around, I think I'd bore her! Sometimes though, I miss the opportunity that has passed. And never more so then when I daydream about homeschooling. The neat supplies all tucked into baskets, the personalized teaching method and lesson plans designed just so to help my girl get the most out of her schooling.

All parents have a desire to pick the best "life-prep" path for their kids, no matter your parenting philosophy. School is one of the biggest parts of that prep. As parents who sometimes sit outside the mainstream, a schooling system that reinforces certain values and ideals is a big deal to me, and one that's a little harder to find. I am a public school grad myself, so this is in no way an indictment of public school, but the best school districts around here are very expensive to live in, and in the other districts I worry about the overcrowding, overextended teachers, budget cuts for the arts, and other problems public schools are facing these days. This is also not to say that all AP parents chose to look outside of public school, or that Gwen wouldn't thrive there, but like others, I believe that Gwen would do even better in with the unique blend of more personalized teaching with more room for independently-led education that certain "alternate schools" provide. So we look elsewhere.

Right now our top two choices are Montessori and a Friend's School. I'm thrilled we have those options, though, like everything else in our area, they come with a large price-tag. Friend's Schools are known for teaching self-sufficiency coupled with a compassion for others that I really appreciate. For reasons why Montessori partners well with AP, check out Julian's post. There are benefits and drawbacks to both, but short of suddenly not needing my income and finding a homeschooling group in my area, they are both my top choices.

The self-imposed pressure to make the "right" choice, the "best" choice, is intense... even though this may be one of those areas where there isn't just one right or best choice. It sticks with me though, the thought that the choice I make now will certainly influence her way of learning for years to come, and with that perhaps her desire to learn and her ability to learn. I wish for her to always have a love for learning that will propel her to try new things for the rest of her life. I hope that the decisions we make in the coming months will help achieve that.

What route did you or will you go with for schooling your children? What helped you make that decision?


Laurel Nakai said... [Reply to comment]

I feel exactly the same way and think about this all the time! I have been a stay at home mom, but the closers get to school age with Miles the more I feel like homeschooling just wouldn't work. I'm both fascinated and terrified of it! Anyway, it's tough, lots of pressure for sure!

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