Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

September 07, 2006

a shocking twist

So here's the surprise ending to this last year's chapter of homeschooling Georgia: She decided that she wants to go to public school. In fact, she insisted upon it, and no argument I gave could convince her otherwise (not that I gave her any of the grown-up arguments against it, just that I told her what it was really like). In her independent, self-directed way, she let us know what she felt was best for her. Billy and I decided that it was in the spirit of homeschooling to give children a choice about where they go to school and to let her try it for herself ("know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor"-Baha'u'llah). We figured that at the least it was information-gathering for her, so she could make an informed choice and, who knows?, at the most maybe it would be a good fit. It is her education, after all, and not our exercise in educational theory.

At first I felt pretty much fired, although I supported Georgia in all practical ways and worked very hard to quickly enroll her and get shots and get her sleeping schedule changed, etc. Then Billy pointed out that it's a good result of the year of homeschooling that she could know what she wanted, say it, persist through hardship and parental doubt, face her fears about school (fire drills, academic readiness, etc), and do what she felt was right for herself, all at the tender age of six. I'm sure that if she feels that public school is no longer for her that we'll hear about that too (although she's going to have to have a pretty good reason to change gears at this point). I also realized that she's as prepared for first grade as any other six year old, academically and socially, and that she may have a motivational advantage actually since she is choosing this instead of just going along with what people have laid out for her. Her reasons for wanting to go are not based on fear or anger (which would be red flags for me in the decision-making process) but on eagerness to try something new, have new experiences, be with a room full of kids all day, ride the shiny yellow school bus and 'get serious about learning'. That's an actual quote, I kid you not. There's also an element for her of wanting to be like eveybody else and not be left behind. That's the competitiveness and insecurity coming out but I don't think it's justification for not letting her go. I know in my heart that homeschooling makes the most sense for me and to me, but that doesn't mean it's the best thing for her right now. We're pretty different people.

So she started first grade at the local elementary school, Flossie Wiley School (mascot: the 'Wiley' coyote), two weeks ago, bravely got on that lumbering school bus earlier that she's ever woken up in her life (a slight exaggeration, but not much) and proceeded to love every day of it (except when she had a tornado drill and a substitute teacher in the same day, but who can blame her for that?). She got the teacher that she was hoping to get when we went and met them all while wandering the halls the week before school. She's in a mixed classroom, kindergarteners and first graders together. She also has two different teachers, Mrs. Rutledge in the morning and Mrs. Shaw in the afternoon. There are nineteen kids in the class. You'll note, dear reader, that I'm reserving judgement, either way, on the merit of the school because I don't really know enough to judge it at this point. When Georgia is well settled there, I'll go visit the class for a while and see what it's like and then I'll be able to say more. Nothing has jumped out at me so far that is either extraordinarily bad or good. I can say a few details that I appreciate, like a lot of varied and interesting math manipulatives, a well thought out discipline system much like what we're working on using at home right now, and a focus on positive social skills based on virtues and justice. I can say a few small details that I don't appreciate, like teachers giving kids candy and sugary snacks pretty often throughout the week (though in small quantities each time) and... ok I can't think of anything else wrong right now that isn't just inherently wrong with the system, but I'm not going to be commenting on that here today. I'm trying not to be prejudiced, by love or hate, but just to see what is really there. But most importantly, so far school has had a very good effect on Georgia. She seems confident, she doesn't fight quite so much with Maya (partly because she doesn't have the opportunity, partly because she's got school as a special thing that's just hers that she doesn't have to share with Maya), she feels grown-up and she feels like she's in on the fun that other kids are having, making friends and 'learning new things'. She seems happy and like she's moving in a positive direction.

That's all I know so far. I'll let you know what happens when the honeymoon is over.

Posted by Bahiyyih at September 7, 2006 11:20 PM

great blogging! hooray for courage and trying new things!

Posted by: Layli at September 8, 2006 09:50 AM

Bahiyyih, Thank you for sharing. This is a very interesting development indeed! Georgia has an amazing power and your entry really reminded me of this: determination is a wonderful quality that is not appreciated enough in girls. I love that you support her in her descisions to try new things, even when it is a hard choice for you.
I understand what you said about being 'fired', since she has chosen another teacher. I can tell you from my experience homeschooling with my mom for two years that letting someone else teach me long division and prepositions opened up a lot of space for my mother to teach me to be loving, kind, accepting, creative etc. She was free to be my spiritual teacher. There was a lot of conflict when she had to be authoritarian enough to get me to school at home. I was more respectful to my teachers when I got to 3rd grade than I was to my mom in the classroom because of the structure of authority.

Oh, I have so much more to say, but this is your blog and not mine, so I will cut it short. The beautiful thing about you as a mother, is you will be ready to homeschool again if she decides that is what she wants. You are so present in your girls' education, it is beautiful.

Posted by: missmartha at September 11, 2006 12:21 PM

Thanks so much for the encouragement! It really means a lot to me!

I really feel grateful for having investigated and tried homeschooling because I got over any hurdles that would keep me from offering it to my kids if it becomes necessary in the future.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at September 11, 2006 09:55 PM