The conversation went something like this:
J: Mummy, I want to see my friends more often.
V: Sure, we can see your friends more often. We can invite (list of friends) over more.
J: But I want to see the same friends. Is (home ed. friend) going to my school next year?
V: No, she's going to another school, too far away from here. We can't take you there. We don't know anyone at your school yet, but you would meet other girls and make new friends. Elijah and I would take you there to meet your teacher and friends, and we'd kiss you and wave goodbye ...
J: And hug!
V: And pick you up in the afternoon.
Jasmine pauses for a moment, thinking, grinning. Then more questions flow:
J: Is gymnastics on while I'm at school?
J: Do they do tennis at school?
V: No, you could do that after school.
J: Do I go there all day? Lots of days? And you ring the school if I'm sick.
V: Yes, but you don't get sick very often.
J: What do they do in Kindergarten?
V: Well, they write and do craft, some maths, games, the teacher reads a lot of stories, there's music and dancing, sport, art ... (J is grinning again). Does that sound good to you? (J nods).
V: We do those things at our homeschool too, you know. We'll do writing, and read stories, lots of games, maths, science, history, lots of art ...
J: That's boring.
Then without wanting to burst her bubble, I thought some reality checks were important, such as:
V: You know the uniform is red and green (J. is VERY particular about what she'll wear, and free-choice is something she's always loved about home schooling) ... but that's ok, bright red suits you well.
J: Will people think I look silly?
V: No, all the children wear the same thing. You'd be fine.
And so it went on. This is my lovely girl who often blushes and turns away from people (even those we know very well, like close relatives and church friends she's seen weekly her whole life!!). She wants to go and meet new teachers and friends. IF we agree, and IF she decides to try it, I'm sure she'll be fine. She's ok with Sunday school teachers after the first quiet 5 minutes. She wants to try it for a day, but I said since we'd have to buy a uniform, perhaps a month would be more reasonable.
She informed me a few times during the chat that she hadn't decided yet. I reminded her that Daddy and I would make the decision. Of course what she wants is important to us. We always thought our kids 'might' want to try school at some point, especially Jasi as she didn't try preschool (she wanted to in Term 4, but when I finally looked there were no vacancies anywhere for months) ... and Kindy seems like a kind time to try it in our opinion, mostly fun and supportive and free of pressure.
As I tried to persuade her to finally get some sleep, she informed me that she'd decided ... she wrote in large, capital letters in the air I = S (I equals S, for school, I eventually understood).
We'll see what the coming days and weeks bring. We'll talk and pray about what's best for Jasi. I think perhaps that she needs this curiosity satisfied. We'll know if she brings up the subject again. There's a real possibility she'll love school ... she likes doing work and would probably be one of those children who adores her teacher. I expect she'll be good as gold there, no sign of wild emotions we see at home. I've heard the local public school is one of the best around here, but I've never seen inside the gates or met the teachers. I'm as new as Jasi.
I'm not totally against school, if it's right for any particular child or at some time. I just love home ed. for the freedom, opportunities, family-friendliness, uninterrupted learning and respect of individuality. If this interest lasts a week or a few years, only time will tell.
Elijah, on the other hand, is still very excited about homeschooling, looking forward to all that we've planned for next year and all the spontaneous free fun we have in between. No way would he want it interrupted by school! Tonight he was pleading with me "Can we do schoolwork tomorrow, even though it's the holidays?" He's still obsessed with Knights, and brandishing Volume 4 of our Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World, he informed me that tomorrow he wants to "study the armor and weapons that Knights use for jousting." Umm, ok.
IF we do the school experiment, I have no idea how to actually go about it. I'm pretty naive considering I'm a teacher. I've just never thought about that side of things. And I didn't really expect to, even though schools are one of the resources available to help us educate our children. Would the school allow Elijah to be with me if I want to help with reading groups?
If we DON'T, I wonder how we'll juggle the demands of a sociable and demanding 5 with the academic appetite of a suddenly studious 6.
P.S. I've had a few much better days this week. Today I tackled a huge amount of housework, cooking and conversation without collapsing. Thanks for the kind comments on my other recent posts, I really love reading those messages!