As August approached, I found myself close to paralyzed with fear about the scariest thing I had known for the last (almost) 6 years was going to happen.
My oldest, smart, creative, interesting, beautiful daughter was going to have to go to kindergarten. Dun Dun Dun.
I always knew I wanted to homeschool. But as time has gone on, I have realized that right now, our best option is for her to attend a charter school that is fabulous in our area, and only a few minutes from our house. We will reevaluate homeschooling later on down the road if charter school doesn’t pan out. So either way, our kid is technically a public school student, as of one week ago.
What does it feel like, you ask, to send your firstborn to school?
Like I am abandoning her, I say.
I didn’t even get the moment of saying a teary-eyed goodbye and telling her that she will do great as she walked into her first day with her little knee socks and backpack, skipping to the front door. I suppose I’m still grieving.
I know it’s not true, I’m not abandoning her. I’m really helping her to grow. But as a mom, how do I make sure she is being treated right? How do I make sure she is learning what she needs to know to become a successful adult? How do I make sure that her teachers see how gifted she is? How do I teach her to handle classroom bullies without killing her spirit inside? How do I make sure her school experience was not like mine?
I’m learning that I can’t control it and sending her to school is the first step in eventually having to let her go.
She has a lot of opportunities at her school, everything from foreign language to stage production, girl scouts and 4-h, to 3D printing and planning a trip to outer space with NASA software. She is learning how to interact with other kids, and how to behave with other adults.
Do I necessarily want her to learn that she is “lesser” than adults? Or that she always has to do what she is told, like a mindless 6 year old robot? Do I want her to be taught to obey authority and not ask questions, because that is her place? Do I want her to memorize information and spit it out, only to forget later on, only for the purpose of increasing bullshit test scores that the state requires? No to all of the above.
My hope for her is to develop a love of learning. To learn HOW to learn. How to ask questions and discover things on her own – so that her learning continues past high school. To treat others like she would want to be treated. To discover who she is without being forced into some stupid box of what an ideal student looks like. I don’t know that she is going to get that from public school. There are so many standards that translate to nothing beneficial in the outside world when it comes to government regulated education curriculum. It honestly has me scared to death.
I think this charter school is the best alternative we have right now – but I’m still not happy about it. Many of the opportunities she will have at this school are great – parents have a lot of say and a lot of opportunities to help and participate. She gets to wear a uniform, helping to prevent distrac
tion and segregation by social class. She does have a very sweet kindergarten teacher who spelled kindergarten wrong on her class first day of school photo prop. Um…
Right now I’m trying to let go and stop thinking so hard about it and try to see the good in the scenario.
I know I can’t protect her from everything. But despite the good going on in her school, I still feel literally sick inside knowing that every day I am sending her to be taught and taken care of by someone who isn’t emotionally invested in her. Someone who doesn’t genuinely care about who SHE is, who SHE is going to be one day. Someone who has to abide by nauseating goverment regulations that require multiple choice test scores instead of critical thinking and logic and problem solving. In a class of way-too-many to benefit all, because funding keeps getting cut. Someone who can’t spell the name of the class she is teaching every single day. Hopefully just a – preparing-for-school-to-start-is-hectic oversight.
I don’t have any answers or a good summary or a happy ending. I just am hoping for the best.
Signed, one reluctant mom of a first time public-charter-schooler.