One of the things that appeals to me about homeschooling is that you get to decide WHAT and HOW your child learns. Now, I know one of the complaints often leveled at homeschoolers is exactly that, that they can (purposely or not) end up educating their children in an incomplete manner, and whether or not that’s true (I mean, I think the majority of homeschoolers strive for—and achieve—a better education than one ends up getting in a public school), at least the parents are doing the selection.
Of course, I would never ever in a hundred thousand million YEARS elect to homeschool my kids, for all sorts of reasons, but the primary one being that I like them a whole lot better when I don’t have to spend every single minute of every single day with them. (Oh, how horrible! some people are now thinking. Whatever. I call this KNOWING MY LIMITATIONS and also BEING HONEST.) I, personally, am a better mother when my children get the majority of their book learnin’ elsewhere.
Besides, this frees me up to be dissatisfied with the public school system.
The way I see it, very few of us get to live lives where we’re always the ones who call the shots. I think public school is a good introduction to some of my very favorite life lessons, such as:
1) Life isn’t fair
2) Some people are mean
3) Hard work generally pays off (but not always—see #1)
4) It’s a good idea to respect your elders
5) Knowing how to follow rules is a survival skill.
This is how I justify sending my kids to public school when I know that in SOME ways they could get a better education either at home with me (assuming I didn’t kill and eat them, which is not an assumption I’m willing to make, anyway) or at a private school after I’ve sold a kidney to pay for their tuition.
And the fact that we’re supposed to get weekly newsletters from the teachers but never do, or the fact that I sent a note in that I was going to pick the kids up one day and Monkey turned his in and was still allowed to go hop on the bus, or the fact that the principal encourages everyone to use email but I’ve already had a teacher tell me that she’s happy to talk to parents but doesn’t have time to “muck around with that computer, ” are things I’m willing to deal with.
I’m even willing to deal with the fact that Monkey’s teacher insists that all children write their letters with little loops on the ends, to better ready them for learning cursive. In theory I agree, but in practice my son now WRITES LIKE A GIRL with his wildly loopy squiggle-printing and I’m just not certain that I believe she should get to legislate this. But it’s HER CLASSROOM and I am staying out of it.
Heck, I even stayed out of it when Monkey came home with his spelling list one week and one of his words was “jumpingjack.”
“Hey, buddy? I think that’s two words.”
“No it’s not. Teacher said it’s one.” Ooooookay. Maybe it’s an accepted variation? Sure, it’s not one with which I’m familiar. Or maybe it’s just, you know, WRONG, but whatever. I can deal with this. I let it go.
But yesterday he brought home his spelling list and one of his words was “cloudnine.” At which point I composed a friendly letter in my head. (Dear Teacher: STOP. IT. NOW. If you need me to send in a dictionary the next time I buy hand sanitizer for the classroom, I will gladly do so. Love, Mir.”)
Instead, I sent an email to a fellow mom. Her son had written down “cloud nine” but he’d also written down “grape vine” so now we were both confused as to what was going on.
And despite the fact that I like to sleep until the last possible moment and shepherd the kids through the morning and possibly even drive them to school in my pajamas (and then shower sometime around lunch, after I’ve worked all morning), this morning I got up early and got showered and dressed and announced that I would be taking the kids to school and going in to have a chat with Monkey’s teacher.
Because, really, what’s next? HAPPYENDING? GOODTIMES? The internet is a series of tubes? It was time to intervene.
I was actually really sort of nervous, because how do you tell a teacher you think she’s teaching something incorrectly without pissing her off? It’s her classroom and I want to respect that. I just don’t want my child learning incorrect spellings.
Monkey and I walked into the classroom and I made a big show of saying “Now, Monkey, I bet you just copied it down off the board wrong, so let’s check it and then fix it on your list and on your homework.”
And do you know what? He HAD copied it down wrong. The board said “cloud nine.”
We corrected his list and his homework and then I bid the teacher a good day and slunk out of the room.
But DUDE he did a week’s worth of homework with “jumpingjack” and it was never marked wrong, so I STAND BY MY INDIGNATION. Sort of.