Education has been on the back burner of my mind since Jonathan was just about 2 years old. Gabe and I both entered marriage with glorious dreams of homeschooling our children. Both of us were homeschooled and felt well prepared for further academics. With college degrees under our belts and (for me) an interest and calling to teaching (albeit older grades) we had a plan and thought the decision was made.
But the best laid plans don't always mesh with reality, and for the past 2-3 years I've wondered, and oscillated, and stressed, and cried, and worried about how to educate our kids. I'm not sure I'm any further toward a peace filled decision than when I started.
Jonathan is a passionate child, full of will and energy and action. He needs routine and structure to help him channel all that energy, but he also needs wide open space and time to explore and play and run. He loves people and would happily play with friends all day, every day, unless someone hurts his feelings (and that takes a lot of care to help him process). He and I have an often stressful relationship, and I wonder if having me as his teacher (as well as mother) would be too difficult for both of us. But would a teacher, with 20 other charges, be able to see him as anything other than a difficult and hyperactive little boy?
I read articles like this one and I think that I will never put my child in school. My best friend, a vocal proponent of public schools for all the years I was against them, decided this year to homeschool her oldest for many of the reasons outlined in the article: too much pressure and not enough play. I find it amusing that she and I have switched positions, but am happy to see that so far it seems to be working well for them.
And have I really switched positions? Not exactly, since I do still think that homeschooling can be wonderful. I'm just not sure about doing it myself, with my child. Will Jonathan enjoy doing "real school"? Or will it be an ongoing battle? And then there are all my personal fears, like how I can fit it into my already too-crowded days, and still give my small ones enough attention, and keep up with laundry and housework and getting dinner on the table?
There are so many options now, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Would we use a Charlotte Mason approach, or Montessori, or go classical and teach them Latin? Math-U-See or Saxon or something else entirely? Printing or cursive and which of the myriad of styles? I swear that there are at least sixteen different methods to teach a child how to read. And where do art and music and science and languages fit in? Is it best to just pick a curriculum and follow directions, or should I try to put together a hand-selected mix (terror says follow a curriculum, guilt says hand-pick it all).
If I'm honest, I think that I don't want to do it. I'm afraid of the whole process - all the decisions, trying to fit it into our often overwhelming days, the potential for more conflict with Jonathan, the responsibility.
And yet, and yet...
When I think about sending him to school, after the initial relief of "someone else will take over", I run into all the worries about pressure and lack of playtime and not being allowed to be an energetic little boy because TESTING is so all-important.
And when we do spend time learning together I love it. Once past all the fear and the dithering and the stress of dirty floors and underwear, when we sit down and do it, it is wonderful.
So maybe I had it right in my early idealism. I'm quite sure I overlooked the realities of implementing it in the midst of real life with children, but maybe my job now is to figure out a way to pull it off anyway.
I could really use some writing on the wall this coming year.