Monday, February 14, 2011

A wild ride!

We decided to ride a roller coaster, knowing it would be fast and possibly dangerous.  We almost fell out on some of the loops and got jolted on the corners.  It seemed like it would never end, but finally we cruised into the exit tunnel.  We limped away, but can now look up at the ride and say we survived.  Most families have no choice but to ride this roller coaster every day.  For some it's a nightmare, for others it's comfortable, thrilling, even fun.  I'm just glad we are free to choose a different ride!

I know I haven't written enough about what's been happening here lately ... it's been too crazy to put in words.  I'll try and bring you up to speed.

Late last year Jasmine started wishing fervently to try school, and after prayer and thought over the break, we decided to give it a go.  We enrolled her at the Public School near our place, where we knew nobody but had heard only good reports.  Despite it being her own wish to go, it's been tough for Jasmine, and she's made that very clear with tantrums and daily changes of heart.  In just 7 days she was late 3 times and totally missed 1 day because she carried on for so long that I wouldn't let her go (and wasn't fit to take her anyway after weathering the storm).  Twice her teachers had to take a kicking and screaming child from my arms, and I had to leave and hide around a corner until I knew she'd settled.  Things improved when Jasmine said she wanted me to drop her off and sneak away (previously hard to do, with her climbing me like a tree).  I spent some days happily teaching Elijah, and a few crying and sick with the stress of the morning.

Our hearts broke as we pick up the pieces each afternoon.  Jasi said the best thing was the work (basic phonics she already knows, and lots of colouring in).  On day two, she started sadly confessing that her new friend had decided to not be her friend anymore, and was telling other kids to leave her out as well.  The teacher said she'd help Jasi make new friends, but observed that she doesn't initiate friendship or follow when the group moves on.

Even so, she's done so much more than we knew she could.  Simple things like asking for an iceblock at the canteen, chatting with the teacher for a literacy assessment.  She was disappointed that they didn't do maths (though maybe they did, but it wasn't what Jasi expected).  We're proud of her courage in just giving it a go.

But we decided enough was enough ... I couldn't handle the tension and trauma, and didn't see that any good could come of continuing.  Jasi wanted to finish this week, but it was sealed for me when the teacher lectured me yesterday for bringing Jasmine late, saying it wasn't good enough and we'd have to get our act together and stop messing around (basically).  She repeated this when Mum picked up Jasmine in the afternoon (I was too sick with anxiety to go in) ... thankfully I'd typed a letter for Mum to deliver, saying thanks and sorry to the teacher, and informing her that we'd be notifying the Principal of our intention to resume home education today.

I was keen to exit gracefully, and hope the carefully written letters to the teacher and Principal will allow us all to end on a positive note.  Now we can get on with our lives without school, and I can salvage what's left of my dignity.

I am SOOOO relieved.  Jasmine is too.  She cried for half an hour yesterday when I told her she wouldn't be going back to school, then bounced back to being a free and happy girl again, grinning and excited about what we'll be doing together.  It is the same relief she expressed when we told her she could leave her stifling and boring ballet class a year ago.

Why did we let our 5 year old daughter enrol in Kindergarten at the local Public School?

Because we thought it was harmless to let her try Kindergarten.  Because I thought 5 year olds would be kinder and easier to befriend than older children in years to come.  Because we could always return to homeschooling, anytime we wanted, and just treat this as an innocent experiment.

Why are we letting her, after 7 days, return to home schooling?

Because we can.  Because I love my daughter and her turmoil each day tortured me, to the point where I felt physical pain.  Because teachers shouldn't belittle parents in front of the class, nor loudly and condescendingly lecture an already frightened child.  Because we believe home ed. suits our children and love tailoring each day to them.  Because home schooling allows us to raise our children the way we believe God wants us to.  Because of the scratchy uniform and the unkindness of mean girls.  Because I don't believe in school enough to force her to go again and again when she's determined not to anymore.  Because we have little trust in the staff, after one week and four different teachers already.  Because we ALL need to have some stability and continuity.  Because we want to get on with real life and learning, not playing the school game.

Was it worth it?

I felt like an incompetent Mum, an unprofessional teacher, inconsistent and too easily influenced by my daughter's fluctuating moods, wishes, strength and vulnerability.  We didn't last the term, as we'd planned to.  I got in trouble ... I've always hated confrontation and conflict.  The teacher spoke down to my daughter.  She won't have the chance to do that again.

BUT on the bright side, Jasmine's curiosity has been satisfied.  She is now keen to have a wonderful year of home ed., instead of feeling deprived and controlled.  We respected her wish to explore.  We had an intense two weeks, difficult in many ways, but have emerged with our love and respect for each other intact and strengthened.  I have learned more about Jasmine's character, learning style and inner strength, and can use this to be a better parent and teacher for her.

Onwards and upwards!  We have had a lot of fun today, together, and the future looks bright.  It'll probably be easier to write about too!!


  1. Wow what a fortnight. I can't believe the attitude of the teacher towards you both, you are too kind. This type of daily worry and anxiety plagued our family for the 2 1/2 yrs Carter was at school. I'd never been so relieved to bring him home and start a new adventure at home with my kids. Jasi may appreciate home a little more? Children en masse can be brutal in the playground. You are her mother and I know I felt every right to comfort my child when he was crying, climbing me like a tree and white knuckling the gate saying mummy don't leave me here. God bless you ll as you trust in Him to guide your family.

  2. oh, hugs to you! Sometimes it's good to try something out and know it's not for you if you know what I mean:) Don't feel bad about it or beat yourself up about it! From the sounds of it things will be much better overall for having 'tried' school for you and Jasi.
    I still have days when *I* (not my dd:)) wonder if school would be good for my dd but I always go back to the reasons why we homeschool and weigh up all the good things that we are experiencing from our hs experience and it seems to bring me back on track.

  3. Che famiglia coraggiosa! Io evito di dar seguito alle sporadiche richieste di Superbimba (4,5 anni) di andare a scuola, lo ha chiesto qualche volta e poi sembra dimenticarsene. Io abito di fronte la scuola pubblica, sento sempre urlare oppure la musica è così alta che non si sente altro. Spero di non dover fare anch'io l'esperimento scuola...

    What a brave family! There were sporadic requests from my Superbimba (4.5 years old) to go to school, she asked a few times and then seems to forget. I live in front of the public school, I always hear screaming or music is so high that you get nothing. I hope I do not have to do the experiment school ...

  4. Hugs to you and yours, Vanessa. I admire your courage and faith in being able to say yes to Jasmine's desire to try school, and likewise, the same courage and faith to say yes to coming back home. How sad for the kids who don't get a choice, for those who suffer and feel trapped in that suffering. Thank goodness for freedom! Enjoy every moment, as I'm sure you will! :)

  5. Good job, Mum. You were brave to let her to to school, and brave to pull her out.

  6. Ditto what everyone else has said. You respected her enough to let her try it, and respected herself and your family enough to call an end to it when you could see it wasn't working.


  7. Well, you know that we went through the exact same thing last year with Izzy, so I feel your pain...and relief to be done with it!


    It was a difficult ordeal (for all of us ;)) but I think we are better off having experienced it. Even just a little taste.

  8. Massively squeezy and huggy and all things supportive to you all. The nicest bit was the 'knowing you always were free' in having a choice. Wonderful reminder of the freedom that is there for everyone!

  9. Oh Vanessa, I had tears in my eyes reading your story. As you know, I'm not a home schooler, but my own dd's start to school has made me wonder why we shove them out to the world so young. Good on you for giving Jasmine a chance to explore it, I imagine it wasn't an easy decision, and it sounds like an even harder week. I don't think you should feel like an incompetent mum - you've given her an experience you all have a chance to learn from as a family and it sounds like it deepens your commitment to what you do. They can only be positives.


Would you like to write a comment?