Sunday, 12 December 2010

To school or not to school?

Well we're having huge wonderments here.

We have a small girl here who is needing the interaction and company of other small people that are on her level and above, and I don't feel as though we are meeting her needs.

We are quite far from decent meet ups and many of the home education friends I have made locally are amazing but their children are much older. The odd-few children that are local are not really like Pixie and I am noticing the differences. We have some lovely home education friends of similar ages, but not locally, which is sad.

Emotionally and intellectually, P is way beyond her years and you can have incredible and deep conversations with her. She is fun, animated, polite and hugely independent. She reads many books on her own, can bake independently, sort out her hens, is doing maths work a year or two above her age (her choice...the beautiful little weirdo) and can hold her own in a conversation with adults.

She is however fairly bossy, and after this was 'pointed' out recently, I have been looking at that side of her character a bit more. I think basically since she is very forward, she naturally wants to take leadership and plan games, especially when the other children are lacking in this direction. I will not interfere in this, as she is growing very nicely in her own way.

So we have come to look at schooling as an option for her. I know that if I sent her now (she's 5 in 2 weeks), she would slot right in and breeze it. But I still think she is far too young. And all the local schools are religion-focussed, even the private ones, and we  would not send her there as we are raising her without religious input until she is of an age where she can understand it.

The only school I would be happy with right now is the Steiner school, which is over 30 miles away and it's infeasible to send her somewhere of that distance.

So we have a dilemma. She so needs more interaction of a higher quality. On a daily basis. But how to get it without traipsing across the bloody countryside to groups that are not local? Every other development aspect she has exceeded in, way past her age range, but the need she has to have children who are on her level is great right now, and the activities she does do not fulfil this need.

When she plays with friends that are aged eight and nine, she blends in beautifully, and the age gap isn't noticed.

I feel like we're holding her back in massive proportions because she isn't getting what she needs and I don't want to damage her. But I don't want to send her somewhere that will damage her either, if that makes any sense at all. And I don't believe that sending her to an institution would solve any of her needs, and perhaps create other problems that we don't have right now.

Have any other home edders got extremely social little people too? How do you remedy the lack of daily company if you're not close to meet-ups? Has any one got any advice in our situation as right now, I feel like I am inadequate and on the road to affecting my little girl's future.


Woolly Wanderer said...

Hi Claire,

Our local meet folded due to lack of sufficient interest and the other meet 40 minutes away became sporadic. Benedict is fortunate that, he keeps in touch with some of his school friends so he sees at least one of them on a weekly basis.

He does dancing and Beavers and the rest of the time it's just us plodding away at home! It's taken me a while but I've come to accept our situation and do my best to live each day as best as I can. Ironically we have a Steiner school on our doorstep, it might be the one you're interested in, but although I like some of the Steiner principles, some I'm not happy with.

I think you're doing a fantastic job and from what I've read on your blog and your postings on GP, your little girl is getting a great start in life! Maybe you're just having a wobble moment? I've had plenty of those, but each time I come back to home schooling being the best thing for us at this time.

In short just wanting to offer you a hug and some encouragement.
San x

LesleyA said...

As you know Claire, having a wobbly here too! Hugs xxx

ruby said...

Not really sure what advice to give as I know what your saying and think this way too sometimes, but never come up with a solution, we umm and argh sometimes for days and always end up with just doing what we are doing and never solving it.We will have a big chat on friday, I wish you could find some lovely girls near you for her to play with xxxx

Scented Sweetpeas said...

How about some after school clubs like dance, swimming, music where groups of children her age meet? I am not sure age is a concern really as long as she is meeting other children to play with - she may feel more at ease with older children and that isn't a problem. x

Scented Sweetpeas said...

How about some after school clubs like dance, swimming, music where groups of children her age meet? I am not sure age is a concern really as long as she is meeting other children to play with - she may feel more at ease with older children and that isn't a problem. x

Claire said...

We already do the after-school clubs but it isn't enough :( x

Anonymous said...

I don't know if my perspective is at all helpful but anyway...I feel I am a home edder trapped in the body of someone who has to work nearly full time and therefore has a child at school! (When we've paid off our debts in about 3 years it may be a different story but enough about me!!!)
I think that NO institution is perfect so it's a case of balancing her needs against, say, some religious input at school and seeing which outweighs the other. By the way you can withdraw your child from assemblies etc on grounds of religion/non religion.
Bearing in mind that nothing will be perfect it's about getting the best fit for her.
School is fairly regimented in terms of kids playing with their own age groups. My son occasionally hooks up with kids from other years but not much it seems to me.
Also I think the (ahem...) 'bossier' girls can struggle a bit, there are usually a few of the 'alpha' female types around and I have seen a fair bit of friction. It depends whether you think it would be good for your girl to have to have that bit of her personality knocked round the edges a bit. I think most kids rein it in a bit as they get older and get more social graces. Some might not. You know your girl.
I think the decision also depends on you; whether you think it is better to try it and have it not work, or better not to try. Someone like you will clearly not let school 'damage' her, you would be attuned to her and pull her out before that happened I'm sure.
Having said all that, and trying to be as even handed as I can without experiencing home ed myself, I think home ed is a fantastic thing and could do much more for your girl in the long run than school which CAN be alot about crowd control, about fitting in, and about working within rigid peramters.
The positives it gives for my son ARE the social ones, he does love his friends and he has a huge sense of community with them and of sharing precious moments, the everyday ones and things like nativities etc. Again, all of which can still be acheived by home edding I know; it just seems you're feeling your girl is not getting this at present.
Sorry if rambling or useless. Just musings for what they are worth. I'm sure whatever you do will be the best x

Anonymous said...

Oh and I meant to add - though I'm sure you've thought of this - that home ed of course provides a completely tailored, bespoke education which school could NEVER do. It also allows you to take account of your child's emotional, physiological development and to work around these things, again which school will never do. Again I guess it depends whether her social needs outweigh this for you.

smilymel said...

I'm not sure what the benefits of spending time with other children her age are... where else in our lives, apart from at school, do we spend time only with people the same age as us, regardless of interests, intelligence or stages of development?

I'm a trained and experienced primary school teacher, but gave that up shortly before becoming pregnant. I am very pro home-schooling, though a bit of a contradiction, as I still intend sending my wee ones to school "for the social interaction" despite wondering whether the social interaction they get there is of any value. I still feel that they will get most of their "education" at home.

I can really see your quandry. It's something that only you and your family can work out, I just wanted to make my point about the age range thing, and offer my support.

Anonymous said...

Good point about the 'falseness' of same-age class interaction but I had to say I had a smile about the spending time with people without necessarily the same interests, intelligence, or stage of development......sounds like work to me, every job I have ever had has been alongside people without the same interests, intell.....etc etc :-)

Claire said...

Thanks for all your thoughts. Lots more thinking to be done! Love and light xxxx