I grew up as an unschooler and I planned for my children to never go to school. Here I am, living in Mexico, and my children just finished their first week of school. I’ve ignored my conscience and it sucks. Yes, I feel like a hypocrite of the highest order.
Why and how did this happen?
I toured 3 schools
I liked what one school had to say and I jumped into signing them up. Maybe I should’ve waited, but I had hoped that signing them up and having them start along with the other children would serve them better than having a late start. For us, this strategy wasn’t very helpful. My kids aren’t big fans of school. One of them hates it.
He cries and struggles during drop off. Sadly, I don’t buy that forcing separation is good for them. It would be so much easier if I did believe it to be true. Please do not take this as a judgement if you have to leave your children in daycare or school for reasons beyond your control or any other reason. It isn’t. There are certainly situations where this is necessary. I’m in a position where I don’t *have* to leave them and I don’t particularly want to (other than to fit in, which makes it 1,000 times worse). And I have been leaving them anyway. So my conscience is killing me.
Our family has been through so much change over the past 4-5 months (we moved to Mexico). It was self-inflicted. Of course, my kids are caught up in that because they are ages 4 and 5. They go where we go. I didn’t expect to suddenly cave to the pressure of school.
The reasons I’m sending them are admittedly stupid. The number one reason is so we meet people in our new city in Mexico. Currently, all of the expats we know (with the exception of one), are scheduled to be moving away by next July. As I’ve discovered this month, circumstances can also change and force people to return home early. Our social circle is rapidly shrinking and there aren’t people rushing in to fill the holes (there really should be, it’s a neat place to live).
There are also aren’t as many (reasonably close) regular activities to partake in. This is actually a huge problem, as we will end up spending a lot of time at home. I don’t hate that, but it does get old sometimes, even for me.
Another reason I’ve chosen to try school is because everyone insists my children will learn the language faster. Their school is bilingual; we are fortunate to be able to afford a private school and the private schools here are bilingual in the early years. There is a language barrier for me to seek out new friends, as well. I’m slowly working on my Spanish.
I’m beating myself up over this.
Parental guilt literally knows no bounds, does it? I tell myself it is but a small blip in our lives. We will try the routine for awhile. It may only be for a month, a semester, or a year. I’m trying to take one day at a time, experience the now, and let the future worry about itself until I get there.
There are a few positives. Both children reportedly have made friends. I’m thankful they are provided a little time to socialize, since school isn’t really a place for socializing. I believe they have a 30 minute recess. The school is supposed to be a little play-based and play is what kids this age should be doing. I also believe their teachers are nice.
Many say you can’t unschool AND go to school.
I think the situation I’ve chosen causes me a conflict with my identity in addition to my plans. Hearing that one can’t be in school while also unschooling is partially true. I say partially because what is learned in school time is completely dictated by the school, of course. However, I don’t want to stop doing experiments or searching for additional educational opportunities through travel and exploration. I can’t stop being me, even though I’ve done a 180 on the school situation. I still want to follow my children’s lead and do things they enjoy.
While I work on building a homeschooling group here (which is slower than I’d hoped), I want my kids to have some friends and some activities. We will naturally flow back into unschooling in the future, as it works very well for us. A dear friend always says that the decision to homeschool isn’t permanent. Therefore, I realized I don’t need to treat the decision to send my kids to school as permanent, either.
Even though it isn’t permanent, this situation goes against my core beliefs. This is what happens when you ignore your conscience. You don’t feel completely right. In my case, I also feel shame.
What do I want for my kids?
Right now, I want them to play. I want them to play, play, and play some more.
Have you ever struggled with a decision, even after making it? Have you ever made a decision for your children that’s contrary to your philosophy?
Natalie blogs about travel, education, and expat life at blissmersion.com. She currently resides in central Mexico, with her husband, 2 children, and dogs.