Monday, February 28, 2011

Katie wants to try out!

When Katie would have been in the third grade, she wanted to see what school was like.  She shadowed our friend's son who was in the fourth grade for a day.  She enjoyed the experience and did the paperwork she brought home. 

In sixth grade, she again was interested in seeing what public school was like and shadowed her best friend Keely for three days during school spirit week.  It was fun to her and when I came to pick her up, she had already met with the principal and wanted me to meet with him too.  I met briefly with him and Katie and told him we would talk about it, but that if she did enroll, at any time I would be happy for her to come back to homeschooling.  After seriously thinking about enrolling, she decided not to because she said she really enjoyed sleeping late, would miss us, and felt she learned best on her own. 
Fast forward to this year, when she would be in the eighth grade.  She's been hanging out with her schooled friends alot.  Some other unschooled and homeschooled friends she knows are going to school either this year or next year as well.  To sum it up, she's had an interest in going in the past, knows people who are trying it out, and new friendships have blossomed with schooled friends. 

Katie said she wanted to enroll in high school for next fall and complete at least the first half of the year which would take her into January 2012.  We talked about it alot and then picked up the necessary paperwork, she took the math competancy test and got into the algebra class she wanted to take.  Then she thought about the possiblity of going to middle school and said she might like to go ahead and enroll in that now and finish out the year.  She said this was the only time she could ever go to middle school in her life and wanted to try it.  She thought she might like to go to school spirit week to try it out, but was quite sure we may as well enroll her because she was sure she would like it. 

Here's part of a letter I wrote about my feelings - I might just include this here because it sums up so much of what I'm feeling....
"........This is hard for me. I dislike school so much as an institution and I think I fear the peer pressure and her wanting to fit in or her losing her love of reading (because she'll be doing so much required reading) and her enthusiasm for life and learning in general. And I love her so much just the way she is and I wonder how going to school might change her. And I wonder if I could have done something differently that might have made her not desire to try out school. In spite of my own feelings and thoughts, it feels more important to me to help her do what she feels is best and right for her, even if it is different than what I had thought or hoped. It would feel wrong to me to say, no, you can't go to school. So I say yes, you can go if you want to. And so, tomorrow I will call the middle school and see if she can try it out for a week and maybe get enrolled afterward. I'll get the ball rolling anyway. Our relationship is more important and that is what helps me help her and stay in a more positive frame of mind than I thought I could. Jim didn't want her to go into 8th grade, but to start in high school if she was set on going. I agree with him that I'd rather her start in high school (if I were making the choice...but I am not....we are letting her decide), but reminded him that ...or rather asked him if....he wanted to support her choices about her path in life and keep our connection and trust with her and how to date we have seen her make good choices and even if she makes choices that aren't so good, they are hers and learning experiences and we can still discuss things, but that I think we'll all be feeling best if we give her the freedom to do what she feels is best for her. He agreed. But he is having a bit of a hard time I think. I didn't realize how much he valued homeschooling or unschooling. I know he notices how much more considerate and thoughtful and kind some of our homeschooled friends and families are. But lately, Katie has been wanting to hang out with her best friend (schooled) and her friends (schooled) who are now Katie's friends too. And I think that is part of why she wants to go. But also to see what it is like first-person. During a conversation once, she said she is happy at home, but might be happy at school, so maybe she can be happy at both places. She wants to find out. Read Ronnie Maier's blog, Marcia Simmonds blog, Sandra Dodd's "school choice" and corresponded with Ronnie, Marcia and Faith Void as all of them have had or have unschooled kids go to school or try out school. It helps alot. But I still wonder how this will go for us. I hope good either way it goes! I'll try to stay positive! (Sorry to write so much on this....I really need to write a blog post about it all, but haven't done so yet.)"


  1. I valued reading about your fears about school and your daughter attending.
    As our 14 year old is very keen to try school out, I have my fears - very similar to yours.
    It is helpful to read about other people going through a similar situation.
    I am scared of how it will work out for our son and the rest of our family. I do not like most of what goes on in schools. In Scotland one has to wear a school uniform and that bothers me a lot. I would feel better if children attending could wear their own everyday clothes.
    I also feel as though I have not provided enough for our son to want to stay at home.
    I am working on myself, as I do not want this to be about myself - it IS about him and his choices. Need to keep reminding myself of that.
    It is not a one way decision after all. He might try it out and like it, or he might come back to being at home.
    Thank you for sharing. :-)

    1. I did not see this comment until recently! I am glad it is helpful to read about my daughter's experience. :)

      Sometimes a person who has never been to school might be curious to find out what it is all about. Maybe you can think of helping your son explore school just like you would help him explore any other interest. If he isn't interested in staying in the system, welcome him home. If he wants to attend school longer, support him as you would with any other endeavor. Don't take his choices personally. Do continue to make home stimulating and a good place to be whether he stays in school or not. Trying new things is a learning experience - he'll likely not only learn about school with it's many procedures and policies and what it is like in general, but also learn more about himself and what he values at this point in his life. And by you supporting him, he'll know you care about him and what is important to him, even his interests are different than what you imagined or might prefer them to be.

      Laurie :)