My "word of the year" was confidence. I wished to be more confident especially in regards to the education of my children. I feel so certain, at times, of my choice to unschool. Yet, at other times, I am unsure of what I am doing and wondering if I am doing the best thing for all of them.
Well, again today, the universe helped me out on my quest for confidence. We were celebrating Mother's Day at my mom and dad's house with all of my extended family...how wonderful! My fantastic Aunt Harriette was telling a tale about my cousin's son, Cole. He attends kindergarten. Apparently there is a reward system where they get a certain number of cubes and then they lose them for not being their best. So, at home, he has done the same thing for his mom, taking away cubes when she doesn't act her best, according to him. This is cute, I agree. But...and this is a big BUT, I do not think it is cute that we are treating our children like Pavlov's dogs. I am so glad that my children are not learning to conform to a teacher's wishes....like keeping quiet, raising your hand, standing in a straight line, etc. There are much better lessons, I think, for them to learn!
Then, I was talking to a dear friend of our family, Beni. She is a foreign language teacher in NJ, who teaches elementary age children. I casually asked how her school year is going. She replied that right now they are in the middle of standardized testing. And, it wasn't going well for the children that she was assigned to because they don't speak good English! How can we expect children who don't speak the language to do well on a test written in that language and geared towards that culture? That is ridiculous! Furthermore, I do not wish my children to spend time learning how to take standardized tests, which in our district they start in FIRST GRADE! Give me a break! What is the use of this?
Beni continued by telling me a story of a fight that took place in her classroom, between 3rd graders! A fist fight! No wonder....the children have to rebel against this system that is outdated, unfair, at times boring, and always focused on the wrong outcome, as I see it.
I proclaimed, after all of her stories, that this is why my children are not at school. She said that she thought that was fine, as long as they were still young. But, in her opinion, they should be in school when they get older. I said that I disagreed and asked her why she thought so. She thinks that they have so many more opportunities by being in school, so I asked her specifically what she meant. She mentioned theater, music, art, etc. I told her that we get all of these things outside of school and will continue to follow Maddie, Amelia, Leah, and Ben's passions, wherever they take us. I then asked my dad to put on the tape of Maddie's recent theater performance. She was a part of a wonderful group, KATS (Kennett Amateur Theater) and loved every minute of it! She intends to perform again in their annual show next Jan. The whole family was amazed at Maddie's performance and that she had been a part of this wonderful theater group. I felt so proud again as I watched her up on stage, the smallest one in the children's chorus. How brave she was and is! And, how wonderful that we realize that you can follow your passions in many other avenues besides school! There is a whole world out there ready to explore, beyond any four walls!
So, for the moment at least, my confidence has been restored. I'm excited to start the week with my children, ready to explore! It will be a week full of friends, books, Webkinz, family times, ballet, soccer, art, pinata making, baking, gardening, park playing, fairy finding, ....... awesome!