I just got back from Elizabeth's Back-to-School-Night. For those of you who do not know, that is the night when the parents go to the school usually without their kids armed with their students schedule and run through a 'day' of school...with the class bells ringing and the parents all looking like kids on the first day of school...happy to see other parents they haven't seen, rushing through the super crowded halls with their schedule in hand looking for the next class and hoping to get there in time.
The idea is that we parents get an opportunity to go to class, experience the school, and meet the teachers in 10 minute increments. (No, we don't stay there as long as the kids do, the 'classes' are only 10 minutes each.)
It was strange for me to go this year without Jimmy, but he had to stay home with the little guys because neither one of them had slept all day (!) and my mother-in-law is sick and wasn't up to watching them.
But that's not my point.
As most of you know, Jimmy and I have decided that when the baby is born in February, I will stay home with the kids.
Jo is in preschool now, headed for kindergarten next year.
She is slated to go to the school in our area, which I am not fond of for various reasons, this being one of them, but not the only one. This school also does not have the advanced program that Elizabeth went through and did very well in and which set her up well for success now that she is in the higher grades. I could try to place Jo in the school where Elizabeth went, but since there is a new principal, things are very different there now, too, and the classes that Elizabeth got are no longer run the same.
So, there is the option of applying her for Spanish immersion at a different school, but there is no promise that she will get chosen, especially since we speak Spanish at home.
Private school is completely out of the question.
So homeschool has come to mind.
This idea has been percolating for the last few years, actually, ever since I really started to read about it and realize what it really was...that it's not just a bunch of overprotective moms keeping their kids in the house all day(a common misconception) as much as a chance for parents to teach their children what they need to know in a safe environment and be actively involved in choosing what they are exposed to and lots of other really positive things.
But going tonight to Elizabeth's school made me see a little bit of a different side to things.
Elizabeth's geometry teacher is a professed math nerd. He makes his own website and updates it with the kids' homework just for fun. He is the head of a competitive math club and he does math stuff at home in the evening because he just plain likes it.
I don't particularly feel that way about numbers.
And her science teacher is a crazy science wizard who loves all types of science and has a science club, too. He tosses the textbook out because he says it's boring and outdated (it is) and instead makes his own plans and teaches the kids in a very hands on way that still gets them the end results.
Her French teacher speaks to the kids only in French...from the very first day of French 1.
The band teacher's husband is a professional tuba player and may be helping Elizabeth out on the tuba since the teacher is the one who saw her talent and wanted her to play the tuba.
So Elizabeth will be (and has been) receiving many different teaching styles from many different personalities throughout her public school career.
And that is a good thing.
But sometimes that is a not so good thing.
And Elizabeth has used her school as a mission field. She has invited 5 friends to come to church with us and 3 of those are still regulars who has gotten baptized and accepted Christ.
And she is one who stands up to others and dresses modestly when others don't and who doesn't use bad language when others do.
She is a witness in who she is and how she acts and what she does in school.
But with that, she has to put up with inappropriate comments from teachers and bad behavior from students.
But Elizabeth is strong enough to withstand that and continue in her trec and has talked to the principal of her school to see if she can organize something for See You at the Pole.
So, what is the right thing to do?
If we are to raise our children in the way they should go, isn't that way the way of a disciple making life?
But as parents, I believe that we are also to protect them and train them and keep them innocent and, yes, sheltered...as in protected from storms, in a safe place where they won't get hurt.
So how does one know the 'right' thing to do?
In many blogs that I read, there is a legitimate 'reason' to homeschool.
Too much homework than what is necessary to learn and therefore is bogging the kids down.
Too long a bus commute.
Teachers teaching their pupils to talk down to their parents.
Dangerous schools in dangerous neighborhoods.
But I live in one of the richest areas that has some of the best schools in the country.
And there are a lot of programs and outlets for the kids.
The school in around the corner...walking distance...hollering distance from my house.
So where does Jo go and how does one know the answer?
Not all kids are created the same. Elizabeth is her own child and has done well in school both academically, emotionally and spiritually.
But Jo is a completely different person. How will she do? How will we know...before it's too late?
Let me give you an example.
Ever since Elizabeth was little, I would take her with me when I would go shopping and she never asked for anything. NEVER. EVER. She knew that by asking, she got nothing and by NOT asking, occasionally, she would get a treat. Very very occasionally.
But not Jo.
I have done the same with her and with Elizabeth. You ask, you definitely DON'T get. You don't ask, you may get something, but probably not.
But all we have to do it drive by a store and Jo will say, 'Mommy, I need some of those pink tennis shoes that have the laces in them.' Why does she say this? Because she saw a picture in a store window.
She doesn't watch TV, so she doesn't get ads there, and we rarely shop anywhere for anything other than food.
But she asks.
Where did she get that tendency? You know, the one where she compares what she has for lunch with the other kids in her class, or the one where she doesn't want to wear certain clothing even if it fits just fine.
Elizabeth was not like that.
Is Jo more impressionable, then? Will she be more easily swayed by culture and society? Does she need to be under the protective shelter of our house and our wings a while longer?
Or will she outgrow it?
Or is her drive to announce her wants merely an expression of her forwardness and her outgoing self who knows what she wants and will not be swayed?
HOW DO I KNOW?????
Where is the 'right' place for our children?
And, of course, the shoe is not one size fits all...
so, how DOES one know?