how does an unschooler decide to send her child to public school?
CSJ will be 7 in less than a month (how the hell did that happen?!), and he has been unschooled up to this point. for this upcoming school year, we will be sending him to public school.
'but that's practically the other end of the learning spectrum! how can you justify going against your philosophies?'
believe it or not, i'm pro-education, whatever form it takes. i don't think a 'one-size-fits-all' approach is the best by any means. i know children who thrive in public school because it suits their lifestyle and their learning style, and i know children who are absolutely miserable and cannot thrive in that environment. same goes for homeschool. my philosophy with regards to education is 'do what works best for that child in order to get the best results.
i started unschooling with CSJ because, at the time, it suited his lifestyle and learning style. it was not a decision made in rebellion of the system. i did not choose homeschool/unschool because of religious beliefs. i did want to have some control over what he was exposed to, since at the time, i was concerned about how he would handle certain situations. but i never said 'homeschool or bust', and always kept an open mind about public school in the future.
well, the future is now. things have changed in our family. our lifestyle has changed and his learning style has changed. over the past year he's become less self-directed and more 'show me the way' in how he learns. given how busy things have become, it isn't easy for me to take time out and help guide him. recently, a neighbor of mine told me about a school she works at in our district that might fit him quite well. she was observing him playing with the other kids and asked if we were going to homeschool always or if we would ever consider public school. i told her that we were constantly assessing the situation and would change things if we felt it would work better (and i had actually been considering public school but wasn't comfortable with the options available). i think things happen for a reason, and i think this came at the right time.
we're looking at this as a trial, an opportunity. he wants to go to school. he wants to meet new people and experience the school setting. who am i to deny him that? if it works out, so much the better. if it doesn't, we can always return to the homeschooling life. no harm, no foul.
do i feel like an unschooling/homeschooling failure? no, not really. i don't feel like i'm failing my child if i'm responding to a situational change in an appropriate manner. don't get me wrong. i'm not sending my child into the system to let the system do all the work for me. not at all. i see it as an opportunity for us both. he will bring home lessons and homework and tell me about what he learned, and i will be able to help him with questions and expand on topics outside the classroom. while this will limit certain aspects of our lives, it will also open doors. i will be able to focus more on Izzy Jo, since she will be staying home this year. i will be able to accomplish things during the day with only two children at home that would have been more difficult to tackle with all three (i'm not supermom and have a hard time managing 2 very spirited individuals and a baby).
i don't see educational method as an all-or-nothing, 'it HAS to be this way or you're doing your child a disservice, make whatever sacrifices you have to' type of thing. there are so many methods, so many opportunities, i think it's reasonable to explore options.
if i've learned anything from parenting, it's that one has to be fluid.