I hate that I am over forty years old and I still need validation. I guess I thought by now I would hold my head high and strut around with confidence in myself, with disregard to any one else’s opinion. I’m almost there, but I allow doubt to creep into my mind ever so slightly, mainly in the area of homeschooling.
Doubt creeps in because I hear disapproving comments from family and neighbors and strangers. Or sometimes it is just my own mind second guessing, wondering, and questioning my choices.
Luckily, I was validated this week. Twice in fact. Just enough to ease my mind.
First was my son’s kindergarten parent/teacher conference. As not to boast or brag, let’s just say that his teachers said he was perfect. 🙂 No, but really, he is well into first grade level on math and reading. He is testing off the charts and they joked that he should just skip to second grade next year. I asked about his behavior and they said he is their “go to” kid for leadership, and he has a big group of friends that he plays with on the playground.
This was validation for me because I did not send Locke to preschool. He went to a special needs school twice a week when he was three, but then the next year he refused to go. He would cry when the bus would come to pick him up; he would cling to my leg; if I took him to school I would leave him crying. I did this for about three weeks and then asked myself, “Why are you fighting a four year old to go to school? He doesn’t even have to go for two more years!” That’s when we bagged it all and he stayed home for the next two years – no official preschool.
That didn’t go over great with everyone. I heard comments like “You should make him go? You are the parent. He is the child. You are in charge” or “What lesson are you teaching him? You’re just going to let him quit?” or “Don’t you need the extra break for yourself?” etc. etc.
But my gut told me that forcing a young child to go to a non-mandatory school would be counter productive to his long-term love of learning and his long-term school career.
So Locke stayed home, and I let him do his thing. He played, colored, watched TV, played video games and did table time. We wrote in a journal together and read together and followed his obsession of the day, but there was no official curriculum.
And long story short, he turned out just fine. Just ask his kindergarten teachers. Locke and I got extra time together and he is not ruined. He actually wants to go to school now.
So for those of you that don’t want to send your child to preschool or for those of you whose child does not want to go, let Locke be your poster child that it will be okay. Preschool is not necessary for success in life. Keep your children home if that is what your gut tells you to do. Do not be influenced by what your neighbor does or what your mother-in-law thinks or even what someone tells you the research says. (It actually says young kids need less school and more play by the way.)
I’m not saying that preschool is a bad thing either. I do think that kids can be pushed academically too young, but generally a few hours a day a few times of week works well for the mother and the child. Three of my other kids went to preschool because they wanted to go, and they turned out fine too. My point is do what feels best for each individual child.
My second validation comes from my daughter in Jr. High. Same story. I decided to homeschool her and people started judging and talking and rolling their eyes and questioning my decision. One friend specifically told me she did not respect my decision.
Elle was out of public school for 6th and 7th grades and went back to a modified schedule in 8th grade to prepare for high school. This year she got straight A’s for her first term report card, straight A’s for her second term report card, and straight A’s for her third term, so it looks like homeschooling didn’t ruin her either.
And it appears that the extra 2000 HOURS! that she got to spend with her mom, in her home, working at her own pace didn’t set her back. In fact, several of her teachers mentioned to me at Parent-Teacher Conferences that she is special and different. One teacher specifically mentioned that she is well-spoken, participates in class and is helpful to her classmates. Looks like her social skills survived homeschooling as well.
Like I said, I hate that I needed someone else’s opinion (teachers) or a piece of paper (report cards) to confirm what I already knew. Homeschooling can be beautiful and beneficial. It can take you places public school can’t. Kids don’t have to fall behind or become social misfits.
Don’t get me wrong. I know homeschooling has potential for failure. Kids can be neglected and under educated, but not with me running the show. What I do is always enough. (How’s that for strutting around with confidence?) It doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, but it does mean that I care enough to always be correcting and evaluating and adjusting what we do. And that is really all it takes to be a successful homeschooling mother.
I just wish I could get those thousands of hours back that I spent with Elle and Locke and take away that dull, backseat worry that I was some how failing them because I didn’t have them in a public school.
I am suppressing the urge to email Elle’s report card to my friend that didn’t respect my decision because in the end it is my fault that I didn’t wholly trust my gut. I trusted it enough to act, but not enough to settle into the act with unwavering peace.
Since these parent-teacher conferences for Locke and Elle I have been able to relax and enjoy my time with my other homeschooling kids so much more. I’m more confident than ever that I’m not screwing them up. I’m less worried that Croft is “behind” in math or that Crew avoids writing at all costs, because I know we are doing great things in our homeschool and it will all work out. Our time together is priceless and years from now I will look back with reverence and awe and gratitude for the time we got to spend together. I trust my gut.