Back to school

It’s the time of the year again: it’s back to school season, and with only a few days remaining of summer, I’m starting to feel a bit anxious about school – and I’m not even the one that’s starting school!

Homeschooling

I have been reflecting a bit about school for the past few months – in fact, this post started as a post about homeschooling back in May, as more and more families we knew were homeschooling or planning to homeschool. I briefly considered it, and even paid to check out the KWCHEA‘s homeschool conference exhibit hall to look at resources and get a better sense of what is available for a homeschooling family.  While buying into curriculum and paying for supplementary classes to supplement a child’s education / learning can be costly (vs. free public school education), I found that there were plenty of free resources (and you could develop your own curriculum as a result) and quite a bit of local support (e.g. free gym time for homeschooled children, email lists) so that you could still have social interaction with other peers. I also found that there were a few memberships that were free to join if your oldest child is under 6 years old,  which gives you access to a support network and perks like (significant) discounts to places like Great Wolf Lodge. But, what a vendor said got to me – partly because my first feeling was “no, it’s not!” but then I know that there is some truth to what he said: he basically told me that home education was God’s calling for all Christian families because the responsibility lies with the parents to teach their children and because that was how it was done historically/biblically (ie. why leave it to other people to do that). I thought about the examples in the Bible, and how children learned their father’s trade as an apprentice (yes, that supports what he’s saying), but then didn’t the young men go off to the synagogue to learn scripture from the pharisees / teacher of the law? And if it’s God’s calling for every Christian family to homeschool their children, that must mean that most are ignoring His calling – is that possible and true? With homeschooling, I know I don’t have to be as worried about the impacts of early sex education, or the in-your-face celebration of gender rights and gay pride, but I don’t want to shelter my kids either.

At first, I didn’t want to consider homeschooling my children because my first exposure to a homeschooler wasn’t a very positive experience, when a student who had attended a public elementary school, then moved to being homeschooled (maybe due to her being teased for being a Jehovah’s Witness?), and then in high school tried to transition back, but she didn’t last very long and was pulled out. So, I’m biased to think that the transition from home education to public might be really difficult and not successful.

Public education

Among the selfish reasons why I didn’t want to homeschool is that I didn’t want to deal with the social isolation, or forcing myself and the children to interact with other homeschooled families – or trying to find ways to be socially involved, be it signing up for supplementary classes ($) or leading co-op-like initiatives. Then again, while I excelled and really enjoyed the academic parts of school, I don’t think I really felt like I truly fit in socially (oh, the insecure me, but perhaps it’s reflective of what the Bible says about being in this world, but not of it, or being foreigners[1]”If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of … Continue reading). Maybe it was due to a combination of language struggles, cultural differences, and a Christian upbringing; I’m not really sure.[2]Case in point, 6-year-old-me awkwardly learned that just because the teacher is Chinese, it … Continue reading

One downside of following the crowd, kids these days are entering the education system as early as 3 years old, and at full days – without naps – too! Great for paying parents as they can save on childcare expenses, but for those young ones who have meltdowns because of missed naps, personally I think it’s too much, too soon (probably because my generation started as young as 4 years old only at half days). Actually, it’s nice that kindergarten is optional for families here, but if I hold them back, I feel that they would miss out on key social interaction development and other learning milestones and will lag far behind when starting Grade 1, especially if one throws in French immersion into the mix.

I pray that her social experiences be better than mine, especially as she navigates the first few years of school! And I pray as a parent, that we’ll be responsible for keeping on top of what is being taught so that we can supplement with truth and a biblical worldview when necessary.

Change

As we transition into a new chapter of our lives (including new morning routines and making school-friendly lunches), I’m comforted that even though I was a bit disappointed to learn that there are 6 kindergarten classes in her school and none of her friends (or the other couple of kids we know) are in the same class, she is really excited and looking forward to starting school (much more so than when I teach her in Sunday School). After going through the Get Ready for School program, she has loved programs and have done so well in them.  When people ask me if we’re ready, this blogger mom sums up my feelings quite well: “She was so ready – that made one of us.  I’m not sure if I’m finally relieved to have some time to myself [or more time with the youngest, rather] or if I’m just terribly sad”.  I know little brother will miss her dearly too, and I’m sure I won’t know what to do with just him at the beginning but here’s to change, God willing!

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