Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Choosing School, Part 1

J-Man dropped a bomb on me a few days before Christmas...he wants to try school.

I panicked inwardly, but hope I remained calm outwardly.

We discussed it a little, but I knew I would support this choice just as I have supported his desire to learn karate or guitar (both very short-lived).

There was little to do about it so close to school holidays, so it became something at the back of my mind.

His major reason for wanting to try school was a lack of friends, which I understood. He really only has 2 friends in Auckland that he enjoys...J12, a schooled-at-home respectfully-parented, very cool kid, and his cousin M11.

J-Man had erroneously supposed that since all the people he plays online games with go to school, if he goes to he will meet lots more ir friends to play online with. I remonstrated with him on that point, but could tell there was no way my saying it wasn't so would change it for him...he has to find out for himself, and I understand that too.

The difficulties really, for me, come with choosing which school...choices are limited around here, and with no car we are left really with the only option being a school within walking distance. I hate the idea of getting up early for a trek to school with the masses.

J-Man also, laughably, thought a private school would be better, since he wasn't sure about school in South Auckland. I explained that for trial purposes, I would not be purchasing a uniform, etc, and he seemed ok with that.

I was also concerned Princess might want to try school at the same time...and saw our happy unschooling lives going up in smoke. DH was helpful there, in reminding me that we want our children making their own decisions- she woudl be welcome to try school as well (though I think Iwould rather they did so seperately, for J-Man's sake).

I talked it over briefly with 2 more experienced unschooling mums, and they were not bothered at all- after all, unschooling is not the goal, it's the journey...autonomy means sometimes our children choose thigngs we wouldn't choose for them.

That helped me relax, but I still spent a lot of time wondering what I could have done better...what is missing in our lives that my son doesn't want to stay home?

I realised he has been crying out for alone time with each of his parents, which has not been acted on as swiftly as it might have been.

I thought we ought to rush out and buy a car, and maybe (just maybe) if we hadn't been car-less for 5 months, he might not be wanting to try school. It was his idea to go withoutthe car, and it seemed to be working well...but something has changed in the last couple of months- his desire to connect with friends in person has increased dramatically- well, it wasn't really there before.

But, upon thinking logically, I can see that I have offered many, many opportunites to see existing friends and make new ones- J-Man has not been keen to meet new friends, so blaming the car is nutty.

Next, is the realisation after more discussions with J-Man, that this is a *trial*...he doesn't mean it to be forever, he doesn't even mean it to be for a month...he just *has* to know what it is like, and I sooo understand that.

I also see that for J-Man, school is different to the kids next door, and his cousins, and most every other child around...he knows he can go and check it out, and he is welcome home any time. It changes things so much, that he is free to choose.

So, I will facilitate this desire, like I would any other, and we will where it leads.

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