My young child is asking to go to public school……
now what do I do?
I think that most young children have a certain amount of curiosity about the unknown, so don’t feel that your child’s inquiry about public school is a poor reflection on you as a teacher. It most likely doesn’t have anything to do with you. Your mission is to find out why your child does want to go to school. Once you find the reason, it is likely that you can replicate that situation at home.
Some of the most common reasons young homeschooled children think they want to go to public school:
“I want to play with my friends more, but they are all at school.”
“Mary gets to go on cool field trips.”
“Johnny gets to play sports.”
“I want to ride on a big yellow bus.”
“They get to have recess on the big playground.”
“Jane says she has a really fun art class, I want to go too.”
Most of these desires can be fulfilled with a little creativity. When my oldest was 5ish, she wanted to go to school on the big yellow bus just like the cartoon aardvark she’d seen on TV. Her awesome daddy brought her home a school bus all of her own, that he found for dirt cheap at an auction. Not only did she get to ride in it, but she made it into a play house, and never asked about public school again! While I understand not everyone has the space (or desire!) to own a bus, there are other ways to pacify the whims your children experience. You can actively look for a sports league, play group, or co-op to join. Schedule more field trips into your days, if that’s your child’s hearts desire. Beef up your art supplies, and be more pro-active about art class. Taking your child’s desires seriously, even if they seem silly or trivial to you, will go a long way in mutual respect.
If you are unable to pacify your child’s desires, you are going to have to decide where to draw the line. If public school has no place on your moral compass, put your foot down and let it be known that it is not an option. If it is more of a preference to homeschool than a conviction, then maybe a public school boot camp is in order. Simulate a public school week, following a similar schedule:
Wake up 6:00am every morning to catch the 7:00am bus. Sit around the noisy, crowded gym until classes start at 8:00am. Sit at a desk for upwards of 6 hours, without snacks or drinks, unable to get up, walk around, or use the bathroom without permission. Be released from school at 3:00 pm, to take the bus home, where another hour or so of homework awaits. Eat dinner, bathe, go to bed. Repeat.
And you know those special days off from homeschool, to take trips, go to work with daddy, or “I just don’t feel like it” days? Forget them all, because the only excused absences are personal illness, death in the family, religious observances, or what the principal deems an emergency. And no skipping, because the parent of a child that violates the mandatory attendance law is subject to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine for each unexcused day. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
This does not even bring into consideration the poor quality cafeteria food, the bullying, the likelihood of contracting communicable diseases, the world view that doesn’t match your own, or the “keeping up with the Joneses” expenses. Count the costs with your child, and decide together whether or not the price is too high. I bet your child will dismiss the illusion of a “fun and games” public school experience on his own, and will go back to enjoying all the opportunities that homeschooling has to offer. 🙂