This is my first summer as the mother of a public schooler! The worst moment of the school year was in September, when my 6-year-old came home and told me all about the "bad guy in school" drill they'd had. All the good experiences Freya had in kindergarten can't quite take away the unease that day caused, but I am still really happy with the school we chose for her.
Plenty of my home-schooling friends have questioned my choice to send my daughter to public school. Besides the frank necessity of generating some income, and private schools being beyond my means, I have another and more deliberate reason: I want my daughter to have as many opportunities in life as I can provide.
This has nothing to do with academic achievement. I could certainly home-school Freya to a higher academic standard than she is offered in public school. Any child can (and should!) learn manners, how to wait politely in line, how to share her thoughts without interrupting, and any other aspect of civility, at home.
But if she wants to pursue a higher education in an academically demanding field, requiring a lot of study, discipline, and a familiarity with "the system", I want her to be prepared for it. I do NOT believe that public school is the only one way to learn this, and I do NOT think that a homeschooled child will always be less prepared than a public schooled child - far from it! But by attending public school Freya is learning how to be a part of "the system" if she wants to.
I am deeply concerned about some of the social interactions she has had already. I am fully aware of how lucky she was to get a really excellent teacher, and how quickly my mind could be changed by the assignment to a really bad teacher. I absolutely do not want Freya to have to take standardized tests, which start in the second grade. But I am here to guide her through these things, to explain the behavior of other kids, to describe the purpose of exams, and to teach her how to navigate "the system".
And believe me, I won't hesitate to pull her out the moment this no longer works!
I would love to hear how other parents are making your children's education work for them and for your family, or if you don't have kids how your early education experiences affected your adolescence.
Pam Connolly, owner of Beannaigh Traditional Handknitting, is a hardworking single mom with an old-fashioned cottage industry.