It’s a big day today. I have two events happening: at 11:00 am it’s the annual not-back-to-school picnic which I have coordinated, and at 9:20 am my beautiful oldest child starts her first day of grade 8 in public school.
Yes, today is the day I turn my kid over to the state for corporate indoctrination rituals and expose her to soul crushing bullying and popularity contests.
Or maybe it’s the day my kid starts her cool adventure in learning new things, making new friends and gaining increasing independence.
Maybe a bit of both?? Oh lordy.
Anyway, she’s going to public school for the first time. We made the decision back in June that it was time to give school a try. It was based on a bunch of factors around the circumstances of our life and the personality of this particular daughter.
I keep reassuring myself that if school is terrible for her she can just come back home anytime. I know that partly, I’m just afraid to let go of her. I feel like I’m throwing her to the wolves.
Back when she was four, and I was considering whether to send her for junior kindergarten, it also felt like I was throwing her to the wolves, but back then she was a little tiny child who couldn’t tie her own shoes. Now she’s a teenager who can think for herself, and hopefully stand up for herself. She has cool hair and new shoes and a healthy, nut-free lunch.
We’ve spent the summer practicing math and French which I beleive are the only two areas where she wasn’t at grade level. She’s made fine progress in those things and I think she’ll do well.
Of course we are still taking an unschooling attitude to school. Our goals for our child are focused on her as a whole person rather than just stuffing information into her brain. We want her to have fun and broaden her social sphere. We want her to be exposed to different ideas and develop critical thinking to evaluate them. We want her to have the opportunity to pursue higher education, but only as a way to advance her broader goals for a career and life, and not just for the sake of itself. And if school turns out not to be helping her with those things, she can quit and we’ll come up with a new plan.
The younger three kids are of course still staying home. I don’t know if I will send them to high school later; it will be a choice that we discuss when the time comes. I’m sure that our oldest’s experience in the next months will inform those future decisions as well.
I think I just heard her stir in the next bedroom. Oh god please let her have a good day!