We were all set to make a final decision on preschool a few days ago. If you socialize with me away from here it's all I've been talking about for weeks - who does it, is it necessary, what on Earth am I going to do?
Thanks to a change in our childcare situation this fall we thought we were all in line to buck the system and not do preschool. We'd do some classes and activities and some extra stuff next summer and be fine and then I ask the four year old what he wanted to do....
"I want to go to Pre-School!"
I was a little surprised. But, I told him, you'll have to go every day, every morning, on and on and there he sat resolute that he wanted to go and spend more time with his friends. He's a social little creature and spends a lot of time at home lamenting the lack of people to play with so it's not totally surprising that he'd jump at the chance to see his "best friend" Lucy more often. So there it was, we're keeping our enrollment in preschool in place because in the end the last four years of "follow the child" would be pointless if we didn't follow his cues now. We'll give it a try and see what comes of it - we don't deem it crucial to future success so if it's too much we'll stop. It'll be two and a half hours a day, five days a week during the regular school year and it seems odd that we're here and it seems a little odd that we're not going other routes.... I think.
I know a lot of great people who've gone the non-traditional route, so many it seems that homeschooling is the traditional route and what we're doing seems a little odd. But what if that's okay? What if my son is one of those kids who likes going to school, regular ol' brick and mortar school. I know I did, my husband did and we seemed to escape with our creative and critical thinking juices intact. But nowadays it's so en vogue to do the opposite it feels like I'm subtly being told that ... well... maybe my kid just isn't that special, maybe he isn't that unique.
Not that I'm actually hearing that talk from anyone I actually know - none of my real life friends who do alternative schooling have ever suggested that, it's just this feeling I get. When you're looking at being a public school kid when all these other options are so popular - private religious, specialty Montessori or Waldorf and five thousand ways to home-school - it kind of makes those public school kids look a little simple, like if they were naturally more creative, more pious, or more intelligent these other options would be calling our names, but because we're not we get the vanilla ice cream of educational choices.
Honestly, I'm not sure where this is all going and it's definitely not to accuse anyone using alternative education of being elitist, it's just me trying to figure out our place in the grand scheme of things.
I know, as we start to dip our toes in this new current, what I believe and expect a public school education to be. I think I'm realistic in my expectations of where it succeeds and fails. I really look at a public school education as the foundation of a building, and that it's up to me as a parent to oversee the rest of the construction - walls of morality, turrets of critical thinking, and spires of creativity.
I guess one good thing about vanilla ice cream is that in the end it's all about the toppings anyways....