My little boy who I held in my arms as a baby a short three (almost four) years ago is going to school today for the first time. The dichotomy of feelings is overwhelming as I swell with pride and joy at his bravery while my heart breaks as I realize he’s about to embark on a part of his life that doesn’t involve me.
You want some raw honest truth? Part of me feels like I should be homeschooling cause that what so many homesteaders do. Like we made the wrong choice or somehow betrayed the lifestyle by choosing to send Monkey Man to public school. So here I am… a terrible homesteader.
Okay I don’t actually believe that. I’ve never done something because it’s trendy so I refuse to homeschool simply because it’s cool. Now that being said, if it were the right choice for my family and my son I would be all over it, but for right now we don’t believe it is.
For those who know us well you will already know that my husband is an elementary public school teacher. He is not someone who chose this field simply because he didn’t know what else to do. I know you’ve heard the saying “those who can’t do, teach”. Well that is NOT Mr. Findlay (nor most of the teachers I’ve met to be honest). He is good at what he does and he cares deeply about his students and his chosen field of employment. Because he believes that the public school system is, at its heart, a good system, we agreed to at least try it for Monkey Man.
He is however the first person to admit that it is absolutely impossible for the public school system to be everything for everyone. There are simply too many needs and students and not enough teachers, resources or money.
So while we have agreed to try public school, we have also agreed that if we reach a “square peg in a round hole” situation with Monkey, that we will explore other options (homeschooling being one of them).
We are blessed in Canada to have a mostly decent schooling system (which is of course district/town dependent… see below). Unlike other countries that struggle to find adequate schooling for their kids, sending a child to public school in Canada isn’t as scary as it is for some folks. Back in February the MBC Times ranked the top 20 countries for education systems and Canada was voted 7th. Not perfect but also not 20th (or 50th for that matter). Fair Reporters ranked Canada as 10th for science and math schooling and Independent in the UK ranked Canada 10th overall.
I am not writing this to criticize other countries or to brag about mine, instead I write this as honest truth as it was a deciding factor for us. I have friends who live elsewhere in the world and I completely understand their decision to homeschool. In fact, if Canada’s system wasn’t what it was (which still isn’t perfect by the way), we would likely be homeschooling.
If my family still lived in the suburban area we were in last year and we were making this decision, we may have decided to keep Monkey Man home. Some of the schools (not all) in our former area are rough! I have heard countless horror stories from my husband, during his supply teaching days, about malnourished and neglected kids and really violent encounters (even in the young grades). It’s enough to scare anyone into homeschooling some days!
However, we now live in a rural area and my husband has been teaching rural kids for almost two years now. Not to sound cliche, but it’s different up north. The kids play outside more and they eat more farm fresh food. They are raised on farm and in rural communities and this is reflected in a school’s population. These kids have grown up with a sense of community and therefore community building within a classroom and school is second nature to them. There are rarely fights or violence and the school’s populations are much lower.
My kiddo has special needs. These needs are not cheap and the resources that he will have access to in public school are something I simply can’t give him at home. I’m not trained to educate a low vision child and we can’t afford the equipment or help he will have access to at school. For example, the cost of a CCTV (which is a common form of tech for people with low vision) starts at $2000. And that’s for used and old school (think back to your very first computer with the black and white tube monitor)! The new ones are closer to $4000!!! Holy moly folks!
If it turns out that Monkey doesn’t thrive in a public school setting we will do the absolute best we can. Thankfully regardless of where he receives his education we do have the fine folks at the CNIB to help us.
Monkey Man is an only child and don’t tell anyone, but his mama is kind of a wacko ( 😉 ). Having him interact and socialize with other people and kids is never a bad thing. If I only had me to socialize with I might got nuts! At school he will have to learn how to function in larger groups, share and navigate friendships and these are all skills that will serve him greatly in later years.
Thankfully if public school ends up not being our thing. there is a great little homeschooling network in our area that gets together on a fairly regular basis. Either way, Monkey isn’t stuck with mama day in and day out.
Education DOES NOT End At School
This is the most comforting fact of all for me because it’s so true. For my family education does not end when the bell rings at school. He will still have plenty of learning opportunities on our little homestead. He will watch the chickens lay eggs, help pull carrots from the garden, learn how to cook in our kitchen and identify herbs and plants in the field behind our house. Learning is life long and we will do our very best to ensure that Monkey is ready for the world when he leaves our nest… whenever that may be.
So as I complete this entry my son is at school and I’m in an empty house trying not to cry. I miss him already and part of me selfishly wishes I had kept him home. However, if I dig deep for the honest truth, I want him home because I’m scared to embark on this new path for myself. The last four years my life has revolved around him and now I will have this time to fill that I haven’t had in a very long time. Time to work on my business, on my blog and on my homestead. I’m scared that I’ll fail at it or that I won’t be able to make a living at my passion. So while this is a new journey for Monkey, it’s one for me too.
Through all the emotions and tears Monkey and I must both remember… the journey is the reward. Change is hard but good things will come of it!
Good luck to my fellow parents sending their young ones to school today! We’ll all be just fine…
Peace and love,