Several good friends of mine homeschool their kids to great success. And what I mean by “success” is not how many words their preschoolers can identify or how well their primary/elementary school child can manage fractions or their teenager comprehends Shakespeare. We have a 5yo neighbor who attends a nearby kindergarten that is supposedly “one of the better ones” in the area. This girl is schooled from 830am-530pm, put through semester tests (mental math, english flash cards, mandarin oral…etc) and attends a battery of enrichment classes (phonics, chinese enrichment, swimming.., etc). She came over one (rare) day and declared she was utterly stressed up. Poor kid.
What I do mean by success is how curious their minds are, how excited they are about learning new things and how adept are they at managing themselves, their environment (static and human) and how well real their learnings are; that is, being able to truly understand 1-2-3s as supposed to simply being able to recite 123s. Most of the people I know who are against homeschooling cite amongst many other complaints, the lack of social interaction, the lack of classroom structure and exposure to auxiliary learnings (like playground dynamics) and a generally overly austere family environment. I also realize the ones with the strongest grouses are also the ones who have barely explored what homeschooling is or know any homeschooling family well.
In any case, we have been considering the matter of homeschooling (semi) seriously and for now we are relatively undecided. As a trainer and educator, I would love to school my two boys myself; no less, I have major issues with many preschool teachers and having worked with the education system very closely for over a decade, I worry to send my kids to school as I know it. More on that another time.
Meanwhile, we are lucky to have found a school that we feel happy to send Q to. Its not “real” school yet but it fulfills the basic tenets we place in high regard:
1. The school need to have a teachers/educators/carers that understand that it is more important for them to love my child then to school them.
2. That parents are still the primary care givers and educators and the school should supplement and enable this arrangement. Also, parents should be involved in the school in as many aspects as viable.
3. Learning be self directed, free from overt structure and flexible. At least for now, since Q is not even three. And while there are many great learning paradigms out there, we are partial to the Montessori school. (Why so? Again, another post another day.)
4. It is preferable that class size is small and the ratio be low. Many schools promise this and they make do by counting assisting staff. We would prefer that that is not the case.
5. And no air conditioning please. Firstly, it lowers health issues (less germs spreading); second, it mirrors the home and future (if he goes to school) learning environment since most schools are not air conditioned; and third, the place just generally smells better.
And in case you are wondering, we settled on Cherrybrooks Kindergarten. And no, they did not pay me to write this. I genuinely like the place and its people.