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Homeschooling, problems with television

I had something else I wanted to write about but am having so much fun reading other blogs that I changed my mind. Or forgot. One theme I see running through many of the blogs that pull me in is homeschooling. What a commitment. Wow. It has seriously crossed my mind, to homeschool Tristan, but part of me really wants to send him to Waldorf when the time comes. Finances will have a large say in that. Since we're most likely having only one child, it may be possible to send him to a Waldorf school in a few years. I have my own aspirations in public history, but seriously am not sure if I want to work outside the home. I love doing research (why else would I love history?) so...we'll see about that. If it is all a "perfect storm" - homeschooling is definitely a possibility. It is the only option I can currently see if Waldorf isn't feasible. I really don't want to send him to public school. It's not the teachers - I think the teachers are great, committed, qualified people. It's the other kids. Everyday on the playground I see such negativity and anger and selfishness. Not always, no. But the truth is that television and video games are such a major part of most children's and families lives, that the violence and sarcasm picked up while watching it permeate daily interactions. Older kids are often immune to violence and unimpressed with the neat things that happen in daily life. That's how I see it. I know I'm making a blanket assumption, but what I see coming out of Waldorf are well-rounded, confident, creative people - and I'd be willing to bet the same from home-schooled kids too. Not that public school doesn't produce these kinds of people, but the building blocks of these children's lives are based on different ideas.

One of these differences is television and video games. I cannot let my child watch T.V. on a regular basis. I tried letting him watch Caillou once a day for a few days. It resulted in temper-tantrums and anger and tears (when it was time to turn it off) in my normally cheerful boy. Not to mention the glazed look on his face while he was watching. We stopped this on the third day. Now Tristan can watch a Caillou or Elmo movie on the van's DVD player when we take a long car trip (he watched on the way to Big Sur a few weeks ago, and will watch again on the way to Portland in a couple of weeks). He knows that while we're at home there are no DVD's in the van (I physically remove them so I don't lie when I tell him we don't have them except for long trips), and he no longer watches T.V. at home. Thank goodness. I find that I'm not watching much either. In the political season, I was a junkie with the news shows, but now I don't have the time for that. I watch a movie now and then, but not often. There are so many other things I want to do it just becomes a time-sucker!

I took some pictures yesterday but the camera is in our room and Tristan is still sleeping so I'll post them tomorrow. Happy Friday!


The Well-Rounded Child said...

To homeschool or not to homeschool....it is a tough decision. There are quite a few Waldorf (or Waldorf inspired) schools in Sacramento, so perhaps when he is of age, you will find just the right one! I considered homeschooling too, but I was concerned about my son not having enough social opportunities, and also, believing in Social Constructivisism (Lev Vygotsky's theory about how children learn best), we decided on a private school. Most public schools are "broken" in my opinion, and held back by an antiquated system. Also, the kind of kids my son would be associating with was a concern too. I think you are on the right path and will find the best place for your boy! If you are thinking of Waldorf preschools, have you considered Merry Garden? I'll send you the owner's name and number if you need it!

Aris said...

A friend of mine once said, an I think it holds true, "we have to prepare our kids for the world and stop trying to prepare a world for our kids."
We cannot possibly shelter our children from all that we disagree with without isolating them. From isolation comes fear. We don't want our children to be scared more than they need to be. The world Is a very scary and very beautiful place and if they are scared they may miss the beauty.
I think that your sweet Tristan will safely find his way whether it be at public or a waldorf school. We must have more faith in ourselves as parentsa and more faith in our clever children to make the right choices. Being a parent is scary and the fears can overwhelm you to the point where you may miss seeing the beauty of it all. It is a hard line to walk without losing balance.
As a teacher in a public school I can honestly say that I rest easy( sometimes) knowing that most children are inherantly good. I do worry though about the video games and tv addiction I think they are sad signs of a world that is too busy, so busy that they are neglecting their children.
Your post speak to all of our worries, it is nice to talk/think about maybe together al of us mothers can fgure this out. Did our mothers have to worry this much?

gennysent said...

I agree with you that children are inherently good and my feeling is that given the natural world, they could probably find their ways more easily sometimes than the ways we point for them, because they are naturally creative and they work with their instincts so easily. My feeling is that as a parent, I need to provide a path for my son to walk on. The path has boundaries, but the direction Tristan takes is his own choice. He is who he is and I cannot change that. I can merely feed him and give him a little space and some guidance and spend as much time with him as possible in hopes that if he doesn't learn by guidance, that he'll learn by example. I don't feel that sending him to Waldorf or homeschooling a child is isolating at all. In fact, it's the opposite. The world is made up of a myriad of people and places. Yes, our popular culture and our consumer culture are forefront because if you watch television, that is what you see. But if all we do is prepare our kids for the world, and don't even consider preparing the world for our kids, we miss out on an opportunity to make the world a better place to live for our kids and grandkids, and we miss the opportunity to make changes in our world that need to happen. The environment is a case in point for this. Our world does need to change because if it doesn't, there may not be any great grandkids to inhabit it. If a parent has the time and the energy and the resources to NOT go with the status quo, they by all means should provide the best education for their child they can possibly give. It sounds like you're an art teacher for young kids - that is so great because when I was in elementary school, our artwork consisted of 45 minutes on Friday afternoons when we would cut a shape out of a mimeographed sheet and paste it on construction paper. That's what I remember. Seeing now, how creativity opens up an entire different side of our minds, I only wish there had been more, and I wish the same for the kids today.

Aris said...

I don't beleive that wWaldorf is isolating or homeschooling when done properly. I do feel that a parents fears can cause a childs isolation and inability to handle what he will inevitable encounter. I just feel sad that there are such fears and negative feelings towards public schools. It just feels sometimes a bit elitist like the general public is filled with inadequate parents and therefore troubled children and as a middle school teacher I don't think that is true. Waldorf is great, public schools should be more focused on creativity and certainly we need to take care of our earth. I am in agreement with all of that wholeheartedly, I am just not ready to give up on public eduation. Youv'e struck a chord with me, because this is something I think a lot about as a mother and as a teacher. It is nice conversing.

Attached Mama said...

I'm always interested to hear what people have to say about homeschooling. My two will be starting Kindergarten and first grade in August (amazing how time flies) and we have been homeschooling them from the beginning - as in from the day they were born.

As parents, we are our children's teachers from the start. We know our children. We know what they need before they say it. We understand their happiness and their tears, their joy and their fears. I cannot imagine what it would be like to send my children to school
- to a place where nobody knows them the way I do
-to a place where all children of a certain age are all expected to learn at a particular level in every subject
- to a place where children learn from their peers to only play with children of your own age or that boys don't play with girls or that boys shouldn't be loving and gentle and kind or that ballet is only for girls and girls shouldn't play with bugs
- to a place where kids learn how to treat each other by the examples they see on t.v. and in video games and from each other, and that it's okay to be disrespectful to other people and to use hurtful words and tones with others and that being rude is funny and that sexual innuendoes are commonplace among kids

I cannot imagine sending my kids to school.

As a homeschooling family, we have a very active social and educational calendar. We choose what we want to do and if we are feeling too busy, we choose to just stay home. We do belong to a homeschool charter (which provides funding for materials of my choosing and whatever classes my kids want to take in the community), but the charter does not have a school, or classes, or anything except funding in exchange for samples in each subject once a semester.

I am the organizer of a seventy family moms group as well as assistant organizer for a thirty family homeschool group. Each week we attend several activities which the families take turns organizing - our homeschool co-op, our homeschool classical History class, homeschool PE, and homeschool park day. My kids attend a homeschool gymnastics class at a local gymnastics center as well as a homeschool ballet class. We attend various field trips each month as well as in-home playdates, arts/crafts days, International Nights, holiday parties, family events, etc. When my kids talk about their "best friends," they mention somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty kids each. We are not lacking for social connections and bonds.

My kids may not know who Hannah Montana is or which Power Ranger is which or what soda tastes like, but they do know how to play with kids of all ages and how to interact with adults. They know all about nature and animals and bugs and trees. They know how to cook and bake and compare prices at the grocery store and how to work together as a family to make things run smoothly. They know how the human body works and which foods are healthy or not and how protein helps our body and refined white sugar doesn't. They understand that everyone is different in some way and that some people excel in some areas and some excel in others. They know that people's bodies may work differently or look a little different than our own, and that even if we're different in some ways, we're still mostly the same.

My kids have not yet learned to play video games or how to be rude to others or how to curse or how to speak disrespectfully to people or any of the myriad of other wonderful things they would learn if I sent them to school.

People worry about homeschool kids not having social interaction - my kids have plenty. One big difference between the interactions of the homeschool kids and the school kids is that if a situation arises between any of the kids at an event, the moms are there to help both sides come to an agreement or to talk about why we don't do certain things, etc. The issue is stopped then and there and cannot go on to become a habit or a common way of life for those children. The children are expected to behave politely and respectfully and they cannot develop the pack mentality that I see in groups of school kids where anyone different is singled out, or where kids are bullied, or where general lack of respect is an ongoing issue.

There are SO many reasons why we choose to homeschool our kids. The social aspect is a HUGE part of it, but the academics are also. People/kids have different learning styles and abilities. I want my children to excel and not to be working way above or below their ability. I want them to continue to LOVE to LEARN!!! They are so eager, and I would not want to see that eagerness lost by my kids having to fit into the same mold as thirty other students their age.

Obviously this is an issue I am very passionate about. It is a very personal choice for each family and I am glad to have found something that works so well for my family. Genny, I hope that when the time comes you will find the decision that is right for your family, too.