It’s official. We are homeschooling for kindergarten and possibly beyond (depending on how year one goes). Why? Well, I don’t have any particular bone to pick with formal schools, but I do believe formal education leaves very little scope for customized learning, especially during early years when a child is just getting to know the rules and discovering his interests. With 20-25 students per class, I cannot possibly blame the teachers for not doing enough (I know they have their hands full and spilling over), but I have this gut-feeling (call it mom-instinct, if you may) that learning can be much more fun, pressure free and part of everyday play, rather than something forced.
Having said that, I have the utmost respect for the teaching profession. Both my parents were teachers for more than three decades each (My mother still is) and I believe it is one of the toughest professions that there is. I have seen them spend hours toiling and planning for class activities, agonizing over individual students’ performances and correcting bundles and bundles of classwork and homework during their so-called personal time. And I know this profession needs tons and tons of patience, planning, and intuition, which I believe I don’t possess to the desired level.
Yet, ever since sonny started Nursery/Preschool and school became more of a “chore” rather than something he looked forward to, I have been debating in my head whether it was time for us to pull the plug. But he adored his teacher, made a couple of best friends and things were somewhat moving along okay, so I just let it be. Plus, who was I kidding? I absolutely loved the 3-4 child-free hours I got every morning, thanks to school!
But over the course of two years, as I have seen the learning spark in my son go down a notch due to all the pressure I was putting on him to read and write better to match the school’s expectations, I came to the conclusion that it was just not worth it. Here was a child who was a voracious learner, self-teaching himself the alphabets/numbers (with very little help from me much before his second birthday) and who could talk non-stop about all things astronomy (tiring me out with his constant demands for reading “just one more book about space”) now not able to settle in a classroom. Now all he was feeling was exhaustion and boredom, frustration and anger instead of excitement and fun, which is how learning should be in the beginning years (at least).
Of course, there were events and activities which he enjoyed at school, especially sports events, outings, and crafts etc. and on such occasions, he could not wait to get to school. But on regular days filled with academics, given a choice between home and school, he preferred home a ninety-nine percent of the times: “I like to stay home, I don’t like to go to school.” was his default statement.
In retrospect, it should not have been such a hard decision considering I and hubby both never went to playschool or kindergarten. We went straight to grade I and don’t think we missed out anything special. In fact, we gained a lot more in terms of memories through extra imaginative play time and extra travel time (without the need to match school vacations) to name a couple.
Moreover, sonny being barely 4.5-year-old now, what is the worst thing that could happen? The worst case scenario would possibly be that homeschooling would fail and we’d have to swallow our pride and enroll him in kindergarten in April 2017 unintentionally redshirting him for a year, right? Will it be so bad to lose a year of academic learning to play?