1.23.2012

a confession

I'd rather be homeschooling.

It sounds awful but since Smootch started in-school school last September, my favorite days are the ones when she is home due to illness or inhospitable weather.  Those days we play and make stuff and read books and watch interesting stop action youtube videos of people creating art or stories about robots who fall in love.  And with someone to play with little brother, I actually get to do a little sewing and creating myself.

I know - I remember - there are some really challenging aspects of homeschool, but, at least for some time on most days, homeschooling felt a little like witnessing a miracle.

I miss being around Smootch at the times in her day when she is most focused and creative, which, as Smootch's habits are rather regular, usually just after lunch.  That's the time when she just suddenly stops whatever she is doing, collects up some paper and drawing supplies, maybe glue and scissors, and sets up camp at the kitchen table.  She always looks like she's tapping into some limitless, universal energy, connected and guided by human-kind's timeless drive to bring into physical reality what we dream of.  She always looks like she has no choice, she Must. Make. Something.

Smootch becomes so angry sometimes at her school.  How when they finally let her use her colouring pencils, it's to colour a picture of something and then cut it out.  She says sometimes she just needs to draw something from her mind but she's not allowed and then she gets tired and thirsty and can't hear what the teacher is saying.  She's outraged at her lack of autonomy, of movement, of freedom of thought.

No daydreaming allowed, even in grade one.

One day Smootch is in love with her school, her friends, her teachers.  The next, she wants to be home.  There are two drives at work here, one the basic human need to have agency over her time and abilities.  To own her work.  The other to do what everyone else is doing, to go where the kids are.  To belong.

I feel like this is where I have fallen down, being unable to balance these needs for her.  When at home she had the time and resources to follow her passions as far as she wanted but through whatever variables you care to mention - moving away from our homeschooling friends, homebody mama, inclinations to solitary activities - we've failed to create a community around us that we could access during school hours.  We don't live near any homeschoolers who like us and want to be around us.  Smooch is an extroverted child, what can I say?  She even dedicates all of her drawings to people, because she feels her work is squandered without a connection to a person (though it makes no difference if that person is living or not). 

Last summer, having so many friends she could spend her entire day playing with, and hearing the pied piper's song, she followed them off to school.  I imagine she thought school would be like the endless days of summer, where you were able to be with your friends and pursue your imaginative play.  Her previous experience was in a Montessori school, so what else could she of thought?

But school is not like that, of course. 

On the other hand, I will never be able to provide a perfect life for her, so maybe her balance will have to be sought in other ways.  She still has a home that supports her in her passions.  Yes, she lost some energy to school, but, hey, easy is the stuff of cartoons and tv ads.  Not really real, you know?

Homeschooling wasn't easy.  School isn't easy.  There is good and bad to each.  Thank goodness for weekends and days too cold to walk to school (and I can't justify starting the car and warming it for five minutes to drive the six blocks to school).  That is a sort of balance.

Those days are are deliciously long and unbroken by the artificial demands of the clock.  When the pajamas are swapped for dress up and lunch looks more like
breakfast.

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(Yep, that really is my toilet.  I've broken a blogging boundary here.)
 
Those days there is

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enough time

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to really

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pay attention.

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Enough time to find something really interesting

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and let it utterly absorb you.

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In this place where everything is fodder for the imagination.

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And mama's papers are actually just interestingly patterned canvases.

Ah.  But I must go.  Got to be up early to make the school run.  I hope tomorrow Smootch will get a chance to stretch out her creative muscles (or her subversive ones - school does teach all sorts of unintended yet valuable lessons as well), find a way to become absorbed in the task of the moment and appreciate the time and energy the grown ups around her have given to try to make her school a place where she can be sheltered from distractions and learn something.  And later she can come home and meet up with her old friends, pencil crayons and drawing pad, and draw herself another world.

Balance.  It may not be exactly what I ordered, but, in the end, it is what it is.

11 comments:

  1. I know I have said this before, but you write my own thoughts. It is really eery. Granted in my case it is all hypothetical because my kids aren't old enough for school yet. But I have imagined the same scenarios in my head. What is with dictated art projects?

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  2. Man I was just like that at school and at home. Must. Make. SOMETHING!
    Creative writing and art at primary school made most of the other kids groan whereas I fist pumped and
    'YESSSSS-ed'.

    I have considered homeschooling for when mine are middle school age, when everything becomes so embarassing and free thinking kinda means 'uncool'.
    I guess we'll have to see. Awesome post!

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  3. Homeschooling is not an awful thing.
    At least here in the USA is legal to do so and we see children thriving more at home than they usually do at school. do you have a good school system in your country?
    We are planing to homeschool, and my husband and siblings were homeschooled as well, so it is only natural for us to do so.
    You are very much right, it is like witnessing a MIRACLE! i think homeschooling is just plain beautiful. challenging but BEAUTIFUL!!!

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  4. We just started to half-homeschool. Our daughter is in Montessori for the other half. We've only known traditional and this feels so much better! My first two loved traditional school and they did quite well, so I have nothing bad to say about that route. If the artist is in you, even school can't supress it. :)

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  5. I love your post. The writing is wonderful.

    It sounds like your daughter really needs the friends she will make in school. I bet you can offer tons of creative outlets at home outside of the 6.5 hour day. Try being more involved in the classroom, for example, offering to teach small group writing circles once a week. Or starting a weekend book club for Smootch and any interested classmates. Teachers are often willing to read the book too and attend occasionally as a special guest. There is somethingbmagical about friends in early childhood and since Smootch is an extrovert, I wouldn't mess with that.

    My daughter was in a progressive preschool and she is home with me now until she starts kinder in the fall. She always does better academically with me, it is 1 on 1 after all but we really miss her friends. And it makes me a little sad to see that her interactions are shaped so much by me and only me...well and her infant brother I suppose...

    As to the angry days...get her a journal/sketchbook and have her transform those feelings into something creative. That cutting activity couldn't have been more than 30 minutes of her day right? Teaching moment I think.
    Good luck!

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  6. Maybe by the end of the year, Smootch will decide that she wants to homeschool for the next year. You have given her the opportunity to discover for herself if she is a homeschooled kid at heart...that's the beauty of homeschooling, right? Kids get to figure out things on their own :) .

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  7. I'm not sure if it's an option for you, but in my Alberta neighbourhood the local public school allows homeschooled children to take a couple of classes there- some come for French or Music, for example.

    And if you ever move, there are schools in Alberta that are very unstructured and many of the parents homeschool part-time, such as Caraway in Edmonton.

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  8. I support your feelings. Although my children are adults now with children of their own, I had the same feelings. Unfortunately when my youngest was born I knew I could not homeschool, but sill wish I had. There are other options if full homeschool is not possible, in our area you can send them for some classes and homeschool for others. My preference is a good private school which really isn't that expensive when you consider the alternative... public school. Good luck!

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  9. i hear ya sister! this is the first year the oldest daughter went to school part time and then full time this week-- 9th grade. the two boys inbetween her and the youngest girl are going to school only part time. they come home at lunch and the youngest goes full time 2nd grade. i am totally torn at sending them and there are days when i totally miss them. i like having them around. maybe part time school would be an option. we have used amblesideonline as our homeschool curriculum and love it...the boys are still doing some of it. my girls do girl scouts to keep them involved with others. and a sport. you do enough to not worry about it...she might be feeling that you aren't a 100% sure of her gone and so she is a little worried about it. i don't know what next year will be for us yet. not ready to think about it. good luck.

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  10. I had never considered homeschool until I read that you prefered it. I don't feel like I'm disciplined enough to provide that sort of structure. Sounds so delightful right about now as I'm contemplating the entire concept of punishment and reward.

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  11. Agast, a teacher who doesn't let kids have FUN, be creative, think for themselves - with your smootch in the class, that's gotta be a bored teacher. I always allow individual ideas in my art projects - of course this weeks project will include me making the marbel paper at home, but that's because it's to smelly to do in the classroom.

    I know you're and artsy/crafty person, perhaps the school would welcome you visiting to do a project {I am currently volunteering in a grade 4/5 class whose teacher is not into art}. Some teachers are just afraid of the mess/misunderstanding of undirected art. I personally love to see the Polar Bear in the desert, the palm tree in Canada, and just the made up animals, it keeps me you at heart. I wonder if her teacher would know about "DEAD", around here the teacher will read for 20-30 minutes sometime after lunch and the kids Drop Everything And Draw, and they can draw anything their brain fancies. Good luck, and remember, sometimes it's ok to take a mental health day;)

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