Unequivocally Schooled by School
Owlet is nearly three. This means nearly everyone we know is asking us about school.
I am decidedly undecided about school. Whether to even send her, and if so, where and when.
It is borderline financially viable for us to do a minor amount of preschool, probably the Montessori school a few blocks away. I think Owlet would love it. my mom was a Montessori teacher and I was a Montessori student, first in my mom’s toddler program at home and then in a real school from age three till third grade. Definitely better than regular school.
Owlet is surely well-suited to Montessori, but maybe she needs something a little less like what we already do at home? In that case, maybe somewhere with rough-and-tumble outdoor activities and lots of opportunities to get really messy, like the Waldorf-inspired preschool our friend’s child attends. But does it need to be in school form? Or would a few hours a week with the right babysitter be a better match? (Is Finland’s success proof that waiting to start school till age seven is the way to go?)
The thing is, Owlet is really happy at home. She loves being with us, puttering around the house. Should we homeschool? I have a good basis in most subjects. My skills in music, humanities, science, and math are up to snuff up to (and in some cases, beyond) the A. P. high school level with a minor amount of brushing up toward the end. Thor’s are, too, and he has audio engineering (it’s his job, after all) and carpentry as well. We both cook and I can sew and do other crafties. Plus, now Ivy League colleges offer online courses free of charge.
Anyway, I have been maintaining a mental list of those things I don’t feel qualified to teach that I would like her to gain some exposure to during childhood:
– self defense
– foreign language (ideally Spanish)
– visual art in all its diverse forms
– computer programming
– theater and dance
– engineering and mechanics
Spread out over the next decade and a half, these (plus many others of her choosing) could all easily be achieved through ad-hoc private lessons and classes, and for substantially less than Montessori tuition.
Although… there is a local Spanish immersion charter school opening up this coming fall. If it does well, that’s a nearly failsafe way to achieve true fluency, or close to it. (There is also a French immersion school that started recently that we’re keeping in mind in case the teaching/administration makes it a more attractive option than the clearly more useful Spanish.
But then I wonder whether a school that prioritizes language acquisition so highly might be too vigilantly uniform in their approach to all other subjects, maybe even less accepting of deviating interests than a standard public school.
Of course we are not alone in this decision. Owlet and Platypup will certainly be weighing in on the direction their education will take. I will not send my children somewhere they don’t want to be. Thor and I have the luxury of both being home a good portion of the time. They can always be here with us, busy brains whirring away just as they do now.
Of course, all this dithering might be for nothing — our choice might be much easier by the time Owlet hits kindergarten. The world of education is changing rapidly these days, and in and amongst soul-crushing standardized testing and draconian disciplinary systems, more and more revolutionary ideas are being championed by parents and educators alike. More and more are taking root and inevitably transforming the landscape of public education.
Perhaps my favorite new suggestion is this one. It has cropped up in articles a few times over the past few years, and just sounds ideal. Finally something that allows for the coexistence and intermingling of a myriad individuals, all with equal access, all with the power of choice.
Too good to be true? Or maybe in a generation or two our own desk-bound school days will be looked back on with incredulity and pity?
Somehow, my worry dissipates in the face of this
We’ll find our way.