Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Freedom to choose

On Sunday night my daughter announced to me that she wants to go to school. She has made this statement off and on throughout the year. I have always maintained that my children should have the choice when it comes to public school. I imagine I could convince her to stay home, but I feel in the long run she would hit a point where she would resent my not giving her the choice. She is certainly different from her brother. She is much more socially extraverted and really feeds off of being around a crowd of people. She loved her 3 year old preschool class and has a positive association with school. So, I signed her up for the academic 1st grade prep summer school.

As I clicked the payment button my heart caught in my throat. How was I feeling? I couldn't put my finger on any one emotion. I was a tornado of emotions. My goal is for my kids to love  learning and to find their interest naturally by exploring and asking questions. How can I deny this reasonable request to try out a different way of going to school? Yet I fear her wanting to be there so badly she will sacrifice parts of herself to 'fit in'. I fear she is bright enough to know how to do enough to get by and desires attention enough to spend more energy on getting people to like her than to using her brain. I fear her emphasis on 'social learning', and it makes my heart race and ache.

I have talked to so many bright women who feel they stopped using their brains at a pretty early age. That is not to say their brains don't work, they just stopped getting exercise. The work presented was moderately challenging, but didn't really require full attention. But, the social scene that requires full presence. It is fun and exciting. It is a game and trying to figure out all the rules and how to play by them and break them successfully is fascinating. I was very good at that game, but I really regret that I stopped using my brain. I fear watching my daughter make my mistakes.

But, I guess that is what parenting is all about. I will have the opportunity to help her. I can provide some observations, support, and encouragement to stay true to herself. I can find ways to challenge her to really think. I can help her remember the person she is today and to know that person, that true self, is enough. She is bright, and funny, and sensitive, and caring and those qualities will remain no matter where she goes to school. I have to trust her and I have to trust myself.

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