At heart, I am a homeschooler. Not exactly the crunchy, earth-mama stereotype, certainly not the seventeen kids, religious focused curriculum stereotype or even the unschooled, let’s raise a wild child stereotype either. But I truly believe in the power of the parents to educate and live a home-schooling life together.
I really think it’s a great option.
(And all kids are weird and unsocialized so let’s just put the whole idea that it’s only homeschooled kids that are odd to bed, please.)
This morning, though, I dropped my kids off at a public school. Just as I did last year.
And just as I did when I first dropped my oldest off at daycare so that I could work, I made a quick retreat to my car and inhaled a chocolate bar. Today, only one chocolate bar was inhaled not the ten I consumed after dropping off my 8 week old baby girl 10 years ago.
For the sole reason of getting first day photographs, I braved the mass chaos of parking along with the crowds of parents and their students. I drove the kids to school this morning to wait in a line in front of the school sign to get my kids photos for all posterity.
And yes, there is a line of parents with their children waiting for their turn at the school sign.
And yes, I can feel the eye-roll of the parents behind me as I take one sibling shot and one individual shot for each of my three children. And then had to repeat…just in case one of them had their eyes closed and oh, yeah, I forgot to have them hold up their fingers to indicate their year in school.
I didn’t gather around the PTSA sponsored coffee social after the morning bell rang or arrange a mimosa filled breakfast with other moms.
I didn’t mill about and wait, hover, with my kids until that first bell rang.
I took my photos, my hugs, my kisses and retreated to my car with tears that could only be kept buried for an finite amount of time. I retreated and ate my candy bar. And then I went for a run.
Why? The run? The chocolate bar? Oh! the public school choice with the homeschool heart?
Homeschooling IS a great option but the opportunity for my children to become truly bilingual at a young age IS ALSO a great option. It’s the option we are betting on to provide them with more opportunities later in life.
And so, for their second year, they are attending a Spanish immersion public school.
Yup, the 2nd grade teacher my child had last year, never once spoke to her in English. She learned grammar and verb conjugation, math, science and social studies all in Spanish. My kindergartner learned the alphabet, as well as counting, reading and speaking all in Spanish. The fourth-grader completed science projects and learned math in Spanish while also spending 1-hour per day learning the English language.
I didn’t mingle at the PTSA table not because I wouldn’t mind knowing other parents and not because I had a candy bar calling my name. I just can’t sell that I’m happy to have my kids in this teacher’s class or that teacher’s class. I can’t get excited about planning a classroom party. Truthfully, I’d really rather have that hour to take my kids out of school an hour early so we can get to a museum or theater production or factory tour or a tide pool to play and learn together.
Frequently, I am asked how I like the school. And I always reply that “it’s fine”.
Actually, I’m positive it’s more than fine.
They have dedicated teachers, an involved parent community, take art, music & gym each week and participate in a few field trips during the year. My kids have found friends and have enjoyed their teachers.
In my efforts to not throw the school under the bus I often, hastily, try to explain that I’m a homeschooler at heart but choosing an immersion experience in hopes of giving them the gift of a second language.
And to that end, they are learning and conversing in a second language. If I measure the schools success by the fluency of my childrens Spanish…it’s more than fine. I have two children who can hold whole conversations and read entire books in Spanish. My third? Well, I secretly think she is trying her hardest to get through the day without speaking a lick of Spanish! I think this year will be harder.
Some days, I’m not sure if gaining a second language is worth what I believe they are losing out on by not returning to homeschooling. Okay, I’ll admit many days I think this.
Then there are the days, where my kids text with friends from Spain (in Spanish), laugh at the conversation happening in Spanish behind us in the grocery store line or rattle off in Spanish to each other for the express purpose of me NOT understanding them.
So there you have it. I’ve laid my cards on the table.
The real reason I am not happily posting my kids back to school photos on facebook is that I would prefer to be at home reading aloud around the breakfast table but instead I am betting on bilingualism to give them increased access to future opportunities.