I felt sick when our now 7 year old son, Edward, started school four years ago. I didn’t want him to go but two things changed that resolve; I caved into pressure from friends that he needed ‘socializing’, because he was my first and therefore an only child and, because I was desperately tired and under-supported, it meant a short break. But he was never happy and so nor was I.
Until yesterday, I was now facing Petra, currently aged 3, starting school later this year. She’s a very different child to Edward and may very well have enjoyed school but I still felt mortally sick. I felt panic stricken at the thought of her going (and at least held back a year so that she wouldn’t start until age 4). When I visualize her going to school, I break out in a cold sweat. Why? Because I just don’t think school is where my kids should be! I think they should be near their father and me. We are the ones who cherish and adore them and will do everything in our power to protect and nurture them – not some total stranger in a room full of 25 other kids.
Friends with kids in ‘Nursery/KG’ told me that they could see that a lot of time is spent in KG moulding the kids to the behavioural standards expected the next year, when a bit more real learning takes place. I saw kids go home wearing ‘listening ears’ that they’d made themselves. Hopefully they just saw it as a fun arts and crafts project. I saw it as frightening school manipulation to get kids to do things their way. Of course this is understandable to some extent, how else will 25+ kids learn anything in a class, especially a bunch of 4 years olds? Or so it would seem, but somehow kids in Montessori or Steiner schools, for example, seem to manage without this sort of early management.
And yet a friend, who knows that I am keeping my daughter at home this year (until the decision was made yesterday to home educate both children from now on, I was delaying her starting school rather than having her never go to school) still told me when a space in Nursery became available. Of course, this could be that she’d like to see a friendly face outside the classroom every day (and I’d certainly be pleased to see her because I like her very much) but could also be to help her justify her decision to send her little 3 year old away from home every day (although she appeared to enjoy herself at school). People just can’t stop trying to get everyone else to join the crowd. It’s the herd mentality. Most people feel comfortable when they’re doing what everyone else is doing and they are friends with someone doing something fundamentally different, this challenges their decisions and values and people find this very threatening rather than simply interesting.
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