It's that time again- back to school time. As a mom of a just barely 5yo who will homeschool (for now at least), we've never been "off to school" so we can't exactly go "back to school" either. But for the most part, Teylor's friends are all starting back to school this week or next, and her papa works at a Charter School here, which brings us to that one question all adults seem inclined to ask any child that appears school-age: "have you started school yet?"
Sometimes it's phrased as "where do you go to school?" or "is she in school?" but for the most part, it seems aimed at discerning if I as a parent am doing my part to ensure my child's success is as bright as it can be (because obviously we parents have to keep eachother in check on this matter), that I'm doing my apparent civic duty, and that my quiet child gets socialized properly because otherwise she will never be forced to act normally. Sometimes this question is aimed as a mere conversation starter with my daughter but for the life of me I don't know why- many, many children don't ENJOY school- it's seen as a responsibility, sure, or a requirement, (there are always exceptions), and it's not something most children choose for themselves, it's not even an institution most adults reflect fondly upon as their own experiences perhaps were difficult or scary or they were bullied. I can relate.
I just don't get it. Do adults have such difficulty interracting with younger children that the only thing they can think to ask them these days is about school? Is it all we remember of our own childhoods? For the most part, I would say yes, it defined many of us and shaped us dramatically. And yet it's not even like all schools are equally good or bad. And the only *wrong* answer I have ever heard to the back-to-school questions is ours: "we're homeschooling."
Reply with an explanation of your homeschooling philosophies or just the simple statement above, and you're sure to be judged or receive blank stares. A neighbor mom even said to me yesterday when she asked if Teylor was starting school and I explained, happily, that we are homeschooling, "but why? is she not very bright?" At first I thought I had misunderstood her and then I was just too stunned to say anything else. And yet my own child is bright, and colorful, and happy- just quiet. She doesn't need to be sent to school so she can be broken of her bad habit of quietness, certainly, and she doesn't need to go to school to learn to read or write because she's taught herself those skills already. If and when we send her to school it will be because it's the right thing for us, and it will be a mutual decision.
I'd like to make a list of the top things you should never ask school aged children. Will you help me? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
I will start with Number one: "are you in school?" because really, that just shows you're not even trying, and implies that you don't think kids do anything except school, which is just depressing. If they say "no," (which is what I've told Teylor she should start replying with) what are you going to do then? Hah!
Number two for me is "can you read?" or "what's 2+2?" - why are you going around testing random children? If you want to be a teacher, go join Teach For America.
Leave yours in the comments, and I will make a list in a few days with all your suggestions!