Monday, August 29, 2011

School Angst

I just wrote, then deleted a whole post about my happy weekend.


Because I wasn't writing about what I need to write about, but am avoiding.

Jude starts school next week. Grade One. Full time.

I'm having a hard time with this. Don't get me wrong. The school is small, safe, supportive. His teacher is young, enthusiastic, and sweet. He knows the children in his class. I'll be there on alternate days.

I trust his ability to cope and thrive with this change in his life.

But that didn't stop me from waking up at four in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep.

It's kind of putting me into a panic, actually. Thinking about him sitting inside through the beautiful fall weather. Thinking about the past six years with him, the closure of the chapter of his life where HOME was where he was most of all.

It all just feels...wrong. Call it my intuition. A child's place is at home, with his or her mother. I know this.

I also know that children all across the world go to school. Parents all around the world deal with it. It becomes part of the routine, for children to be awakened early, rushed through breakfast, dropped off, picked up...then starting it all over again the next morning.

I need to have a big cry. Because this feels like grief. It feels like a forcible ending to his childhood. While I look forward to my days at home with just the girls, I know I'll keenly feel his absence every day: his drawings, his funny stories, his requests for his favourite songs. And I know that gradually, he'll forget what it was like to be here "most of the time".

I'm not in the habit of ignoring my gut. Robin and I have agreed that if he does not seem to be thriving, we'll make arrangements any way we can to home school him. I'm trying to reassure myself that he will be fine, that he'll love school and look forward to seeing his friends each day. I'm trying to be positive (and am putting on a brave face to reassure Jude that it's going to be great). But I kind of feel like my heart is breaking a bit.

Any words of comfort or advice out there?


  1. This probably isn't of any comfort, but my oldest starts JK next week and I feel absolutely sick about it. Last night, I sewed a backpack for him, and cried the whole way through it. Grief is definitely present here, and I'm trying to figure out whether my feeling of loss is clouding my perspective about school (my son is bright and caring, but when he's in a group of children, his behaviour and reactions stand out as notably 'different'). The only way to know is to try.

    How wonderful that you and your husband are comfortable with homeschooling if that feels like a better option in the future.

    Hope Jude loves school!

  2. First, I completely get the avoiding of things by writing other, less threatening (to yourself) posts. I do that all the time. And then delete them. And then sometimes rewrite them. It's complicated.

    Sending them to school is hard. My Alyce starts Jr. Kindergarten (full days, 2 or 3 times a week) soon, and I'm so mixed about it. So much wants to homeschool. Home is special, it is where we build our lives. I want her to remember home. But I also want her to get excited about school, where she has her friends and, I hope, a favourite teacher. And sometimes I just want the break, and then I feel guilty. Ack, the guilt is annoying sometimes!

    Anyway, I hope he loves it and feels himself there. And I hope you get that good cry, because it helps, somehow.

  3. Stephanie,
    I was completely right where you were last year with my own daughter. She was in a school that implemented all day kindergarten. She was only 3 years old and going to school full time everyday. I felt the grief, the ending of her childhood and sadness at the time she would be spending away from her brother and myself. It took her a good 5-6 weeks to settle into a routine and adjust to such busy days at school and it took me even longer. I kept threatening to take her out and home school her too but eventually I learned to enjoy the time spent with just my son and couldn't wait to hear the stories of what happened with her that day.

    No matter what your child will always be excited to come home, to you and the rest of the family. He will thrive because you have taught him to thrive. My daughter is now starting her second year and we are embracing her last year in kindergarten before her journey to desks and homework. I am sure that Jude will be just fine.

  4. I was a child that thrived at school. I was so excited to go every day, and looked forward to September all year long. Would it help to remember that some children really excel in a school environment? Maybe your Jude is one of them! And if not, as you said, there are always, always alternative options. Hugs to you.

  5. Stephanie,

    I hope it is of comfort when I tell you that it is clear you are ultimately "choosing love" at this junction, and tomorrow (GratiTuesday) may you be grateful for your strong soul that has allowed you to reveal your honest feelings as such.

    Peace to you,
    (One of your father's Gr.8 students, who loved school, and also had a great nurturing environment at home - I wish Jude the same experience :)

  6. Both kids can't wait until school starts next week (we are probably the last people on earth back in school, haha), and they are so ready for it! I am however relishing the last few days together ;)

  7. Find a quiet place and allow yourself a few moments to cry! It is grief... your child is moving to a new phase in his life... it is an ending, AND a beginning! My babies are now 13 and 21 respectively, and those stages were "secretly" hard for me. But (here's the good part)I have loved getting to know the men they have become/ are becoming (respectively).

    Just keep an open mind and an open heart. And allow yourself to feel what you need to feel.And trust your instincts! You are a great mama! You will know what to do!

  8. It is a hard choice for sure. And grief is the correct term to describe it. You have a plan, and it is okay to stick with the plan if it is working. And if it isn't then you have another plan.
    I understand completely where you are coming from.
    Take care.

  9. Such a tough place you are in that many of us have gone through. Our kids did Waldorf preschool and kindergarten part time and we all loved it. We started public school full time and I felt exactly like you do now...We also had the same plan, if it doesn't work we'll find a way to homeschool them.
    After 2 1/2 years of trying really hard we decided it didn't work and changed our lives to become a homeschool family. We couldn't be happier and it feels so right that sometimes I think "why didn't we do this all along?" I know though that we needed to go through it all and find what was right for us as a family.
    It will be hard for you for sure, but if you don't try you may always wonder...this way no matter what ends up in the end you will know it's right.
    I hope this helps a little. It's such a hard choice for everyone and the school you are going to makes such a difference as does your community. Good luck to you.

  10. Life is full of milestones that mark the end of one phase and the movement into another. And you are right (in my mind anyway) to acknowledge that there is grief involved with this next big step. My teacher colleagues would be horrified with me, but if it's too much, then keep Jude home on some of the days that you are at home. Honestly, school doesn't have to be all or nothing. Or even choose one homeschool day a week. I am a proponent of public school (it does pay my bills, after all), but there is huge value in the learning that children do in enriched home environments.

    I have no doubt that you will do what works for your family. Reading your blog leaves no doubt in my mind.

  11. Isn't it wonderful that as a blogger, you have shared such heartwarming wisdom over the last year and a half and now when you reach out to your readers, you are surrounded by beautiful words of validation, encouragement and cyber love.

  12. My daughter starts grade one tomorrow, every weekday, full time. I feel some angst too. She has been to kindergarten for two years, part time, and it has worked well for her. She has thrived. It allowed me to go back to work. I feel some angst as well, knowing she'll be gone for the whole week. How will we go on our special outings together, just myself and the kids. But, in hopes that she won't miss much (and will probably learn much more outside of teh classroom) I've decided to have at least once or twice a month some 'special' days where the kids and I do things together. The museum, nature walks, the zoo, harvest festivals - anything at all that strikes our fancy - on days that I'm not working and the kids might normally be in school. I think it will be as much for me, as it will be for them. I'm looking forward to it.

    My little guy starts pre-school for the first full day tomorrow, as well. But, he's been transitioning surprisingly well. So really, I think the kids are going to handle it much better than me...I know I'll miss my little Spirit of Fire on those days that I'm home with my little guy...I feel the same way.

  13. Mine have never been to school.... They're 9,8, 6 and 2. It's very hard work in some ways ( no personal space, little free time to yourself ) but in others it's easier than school. It is simultaneously gentler and more brutal being at home versus school. All you can do is stay true to your child. Support and encourage his school start but if he seems like he's really floundering, like you say, you can perhaps flex-school him, or homeschool. Take one year at a time. You don't have to commit to his whole educational life being either one way or the other! Try to enjoy it and see yourself as always having options all along the way. Nothing needs to be so final and forever that you feel like you're stuck with that choice forever. Check out Lucy Pearce's angst about school on her fantastic blog Dreaming Aloud. She has agonised a LOT over her own school vs. homeschool debate and has chosen school for now.


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