Here’s my fundamental premise: children are people.
That seems obvious, but I mean this in very deep senses of the word. I think children are people, and I therefore think their feelings, wishes, and desires count. We’re talking about where this wee lad is going to spend the bulk of his waking hours, for the bulk of his year, for the bulk of his childhood.
If you want to make a child hate to learn, hate to read, hate maths — sending him somewhere he hates to do this is the most effective way to do it. There’s lots of reasons children don’t like school — most of them boil down to this: we’re not meant to be institutionalized in a factory setting. Even Ford had to pay craftspeople triple and quadruple the going rate to get them to spend time in his factories — we’re not meant to live like that.
Most kids, knowing they have no options, conform themselves to the model. Some even “enjoy” school — we’re hard-wired to find joy where we can. But we’re individuals, we’re part of nature — we’re really not meant to be institutionalized.
For others — it’s too much. They slip in to depression. They kill themselves. There’s a direct correlation between psychiatric events in children that require at least a single overnight and the school year. It falls to nearly nothing in the summer, and then starts ticking up until it reaches a pinnacle in March, and slowly starts coming back down, falling off precipitously as school lets out. I get the same uptick in frantic parents in the spring, trying to get their kids out of school to homeschool them — it was years before I made the connection — I couldn’t figure out why, so near the end, you’d want to start homeschooling.
It might be that this lad, given a few years to mature, will go to school and love it. It’s more likely (statistically), that all three children are homeschooling by this time next year.
I give this advice both ways — if a homeschooling family has a kid who wants to go to school, I say let h**. (If they’re 5 or 6, what they probably actually want is a some combination of a lunchbox, a backpack, and a ride on the school bus — I blame Arthur for this). But if they’re older, let them go. Most kids, given the true option of coming back just as soon as they want to (none of this silly “if you go, you have to stick it out until the end of the term” stuff), return within the week — even the youngers can see that the school is wasting their time and eating up their freedom to think, explore, tinker, go, do, be.
Alaetheia’s 3, and I’m a college prof. My babysitter falls through for my evening class, and I take her along with a sack of books and snacks and drinkboxes and toys. I let her know the basic schedule (3 hours class, breaks on the hour), and the protocol (she should be very quiet, and raise her hand if she needs to say something really important). It goes great.
Near the end of one of the breaks, most of my students are back, and I’m talking to Alaetheia (she’s in the back, I’m in the front of the room), and I look up, and the class is staring at me, aghast.
I look from face to face, but I have no idea what’s happened.
So I say that, “Okay . . . something just happened — what’s wrong?”
And several say, “You talk to your toddler — like you talk to us.”
“Yes . . . and . . .?”
“No, I mean — you talk to your toddler like you talk to US.”
It takes a minute, then it finally clicks what they’re trying to say — I used my regular vocabulary with my 3yo, “Well, yes — she is a PERSON.” smile emoticon
(Maybe they thought their English prof. should talk baby talk? I don’t know. I only talk baby talk to dogs — their English is not anticipated to get better, so I feel I’m not doing them a disservice).