There has been a tremendous amount of behind the blog activity happening lately. You know how it is, some things make it on the blog, some things are kept for yourself. Then there are those things that you'd like to share on the blog, but they are big... and it always seems to be 10:00 at night when you finally get a chance to sit down to write, and you're too tired to form complete sentences. And then there is the feeling of "where do I begin."
Emily has returned to school. She has always gone to a Montessori school until the spring of last year when we began homeschooling part time. We continued into this school year full time. A little history... When Emily was an infant I began researching elementary school options for us, including homeschool. Though we were a young family and were unsure of which district we would live at the time she would reach school age, I always knew public school would not be a fit for our family.
Adam and I both had less than worthwhile school experiences growing up... he was the smart kid, smarter than most of his peers. The schools solution to this was to allow him to skip 7th grade (could there be a more crucial year in social development?), and to turn a blind eye as he did all of his friends home work and reports - just to keep busy. This advancement they "awarded" him (skipping 7th grade) also meant that he landed his just turned seventeen self at University of Vermont for his first year of college. To clarify, a barely seventeen year old boy at one of the countries top party schools (at the time anyway) is a terrible idea. As for me... my story is long and filled with years sheer boredom. High school was particularly difficult for me. I remember always being inside my head wondering how so many adults could get it all so wrong... take a creative, bright, full of ideas young adult and fill their days with complete sensory deprivation, and it is surprising they get into "trouble?" I would spend a great deal of time trying to get kicked out of the most dreadful classes so I could sit in the principles office and read books by Kesey, and Wolfe, given to me on the sly by my incredible English teacher, why couldn't I have stayed with him all day? Anyway, school for me was always a dreaded experience. I knew it could be different. I knew there could be a love and understanding of learning cultivated at a young age that would carry through to collaborative, supportive and inspiring studies as children grew older. We don't need good test takers and line followers to change and heal the world. We need those capable of individual thought who possess the tools to put ideas into action.
It was pre-internet when I began researching schools for Emily (at least pre-user-friendly internet), and though I was interested in homeschooling I was a little in the dark about locating decent resources which is of course not the case at all anymore. The homeschooling world is at our fingertips now. I knew many of the Waldorf/Sudbury/Montessori schools in our area have waiting lists, so yes, I checked in on them all before Emily was one. And to further demonstrate my sheer neurosis around this matter - we've already visited and toured one high school in Vermont, she was eight at the time. That's another story.
The Montessori school (pre k - 6th grade) she has attended since pre-school and has returned to last week is beyond wonderful. Emily is not familiar with standardized testing, or homework, she has no concept of busywork. She does know that she is a young writer, a lover of history, a believer in the power of her school's outdoor classroom - inspired by this book - a must read for every parent. She knows that if she's feeling like she needs a breath of fresh air to get her head back into her work, she can grab a friend and sign out of the classroom for a "lap" around the field out back. She knows that every adult in the building knows her by name and that they are happy to be there, because they are teachers that are still getting to do what all teachers want to do, awaken the love of learning in their students.
What I'm trying to say is this, we never had an issue with the school, quite the opposite actually. It is a place where young minds fall in love with learning, where they are mentored to become scholars and independent thinkers. It is a place that gives hope to the future. We ultimately began homeschooling for personal reasons... which I'm sorry to interject with at this point, but much of this story is Emily's and not mine to share. The point is, she was ready to go back to her former school, and so we agreed. What I have taken from this experience has not been the homeschooling story, it has been the story of two parents who were faced with a difficult decision, who were supported by few and questioned by many. We came to a place where we decided to trust in our own wisdom, believing in our child and giving her what she needed most during a challenging time, home and family. And she has grown, and has healed, and has become more powerful than ever. I've said before about Emily that she has always known her own journey. She is not a follower, she leads with conviction and cannot be persuaded, ever. She is also big hearted, moral, and has great intolerance for injustice. She can be a bundle of emotion at times, which presented us with a make it or break it moment... we could either meet her emotional needs, or try to mold her into something that better fits a societal norm... and we could watch it all back fire. Intuition guided us down the path we've been on for the past year, and we are much better for it.
I will miss the homeschool clothing though. For sure.
Here's to the next chapter in the journey...