After a very difficult year and my deep desire to give home education a try we decided to take Maia out of public school for the rest of this school year. She’s been crying each morning and having a horrible time in her class. I have been unhappy with her experience but we were not sure which route to take.
As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with public schooling in general. There are many good things and programs offered in the schools. Yet, the intense pressure, the standardized testing, the lack of creativity in the classroom and the over-crowded classrooms… well you get it. And as I have worked with so many homeschoolers over the years, I have come to realize what an amazing experience it can be for children. They are not sitting at their kitchen counter all day with their mother… they are exploring the world and being exposed to many different people and places.
At first, I was thinking up a way to bring Maia over to the Waldorf School but the commute, the tuition and the amount of work I would have to do to make it happen are just really too much to commit to right now in our lives. That’s not to say we will not go that route down the road. My little one is still attending their three day Kindergarten program and thriving there.
And, there are some wonderful local educational programs that Maia can be a part of now including cooperatives and drop-off programs with tutors teaching science, math and language. One in particular I am very interested has a class of approximately 7 students (perfect for Maia) and runs 4 hours in length each day that they meet. While not Waldorf school, it will be a nice bridge for us as we transition out of public school and search for a better fit for our family, giving her a classroom experience and taking some of the pressure off of me as we begin. And on the days that she is home I plan on incorporating waldorf educational methods.
This year we’ve had a hard time figuring out the best educational choices for our girls. While my older daughters are “getting through” school, public school was a complete disaster for my youngest daughter Brianna which is why we switched her to the Waldorf school.
Then, Maia’s experience at school became so miserable for her that she began crying each morning not wanting to go to class. She was getting lost in the shuffle of the large crowd… often having to stay in for recess because of a large group of misbehaving children or sit through countless lectures on good behavior when she was already behaving. She asked if she could bring books in from home because her reading bin was empty as she already read all of the books at her level.
So I had to ask myself… is this really what is good for my child? Just because it is what “everyone” is doing? Is this healthy socialization and an ideal educational experience. At this time my answer is no. It may work again for us in the future but right now it is not.
I know well-meaning family members and friends may worry and question our decision and have concerns about things like “socialization”. I do not look forward to being questioned and having to justify our choices. But when I visited my child for lunch one day, I couldn’t believe the “socialization” I was exposing her to. I left there knowing in my heart that this was not the right fit for my child. I think often we do not even realize what our children’s school environment is truly like and just assume it is fine.
So all I can hope is that family and friends will support me as a parent, regardless of their opinions, knowing that I will always be very involved in ensuring that my girls are getting a good education regardless of the approach. And I hope they know that our choices are not done to isolate or over-protect our children. Quite the opposite, we are working hard to find learning and social environments in which they will thrive and have the freedom to be their true selves.
Maia will now be able to follow her interests deeply in writing, art and science. She can join groups (and there are SO many here) and choose who she wishes to spend more time with. She can leave home as often as she likes to go to events, classes and programs. She will be able to foster a deeper relationship with her sisters.
And it may not be forever. I’m not sure how long it will be. For now, we are just finishing up this year at home. It was definitely the better alternative. I guess we will do it as long as it is working for both myself and the girls.
I am open to public school if that is what my girls want and need. My fifth grader and my senior are both currently in public school and as long as they are happy and learning that’s all that really matters to us.
Wish us luck!