10 April, 2008

The Question

There are few questions that parents aren't at some level, prepared for.  I mean, they might not expect them when they happen, but we are prepared for the topic to arise all the same. 
Like sex.  We fear the day that sex will be a topic that we discuss with our kids, but we know that it is coming.  We are, at some level, prepared for the questions to be asked. 
And then there are those questions that we don't give thought to; those that simply pop out of our children's mouths without warning or really much rhyme or reason. 
The Diva posed such a question this week.  As we walked to ballet she asked why her eldest two cousins do not attend school (yes they are old enough). 
I was surprised as I didn't know that she realized that they don't attend school.  She knows that they are home schooled, but I wasn't sure that she had connected the home schooling with not attending school.  When we talk about the schooling of my nephews, it is always more in context of what they are learning etc over the fact that they aren't going to school - like my SIL focuses upon math and has from the beginning.  Her 7 and 5 year old don't know much about reading or writing but they do lots of math.   
But she connected the dots and she asked the question.  
And I wasn't sure how to answer.  
There are many reasons that kids are homeschooled.  In no way do I take issue with the concept.  I have the greatest respect for the mothers and fathers who can do it and do it well because, well, I could not.
My brother and SIL home school because they are ministers who want their children taught in a specific way and who do not want the influence of those who do not believe as they do effecting their children. 
But I am not sure how to explain this to my daughter as we do not believe as they do. 
Instead, I focused upon the value that I believe that she receives from school.  The diversity of learning styles, learning differences, cultures, personalities, religions, etc.  The value of learning to work together, or learning to consider other perspectives, and the appreciation of all that is different as well as what is similar.  Learning to communicate and work with people who have differences.  Were she to be homeschooled, she would not receive any of these as she would largely be isolated in our home and our community of friends. 
And thus, I answered the question differently than she had asked.  I explained that there are so many ways to raise kids and to teach them - different ways with none being essentially better than another. 
Like kids all over the world, she listened to what I said, asked a few follow up questions, and dropped the topic entirely.  The topic that left we sweating during the answering and relieved when it was over ended as quickly as a butterfly flying by on its way to the next flower. 
I am not off the hook, however, I am sure that there will be other questions for which I am unprepared, and I can't wait!


cathouse teri said...

Interesting how we think questions are so complex and they mean them in such a simple way. She would have probably been satisfied with an answer like, "They go to school. They just go to school at home!"

I taught my children at home for six years. I almost mentioned that in my comment at the last post, as I think this could have something to do with the fact that my older two children waited to have sex (they didn't enter public school until high school) and my youngest, not so much (he entered public school in sixth grade). There is no reason to think that this is the hard and fast reason for their choices, though. I do believe that you are not so bombarded with peer-dependency when taught at home, but apart from that, I don't think home schooling is a substantial contributor to deterring early sexual curiosities. My kids were very involved with the social structure of our community. They had grown up with the kids who were going to the schools they entered at that later date. They were not at all prevented from the situations that other kids were finding themselves in. Just on a smaller scale, as I mentioned.

True, though. There are many types of cultures, and subcultures, your little Diva is going to learn about that differ from her experience.

Was a smart question, though, eh?

The Exception said...

Teri - Not my kid. She realized that they went to school at home - she wanted to know why they didn't go to school like she does. I never try to over answer her questions because I want to make sure that she gets an answer that she understands. She can ask some questions based on the answer - but making a simple answer complicated for her is not my way.

cathouse teri said...

LOL, gotcha. :)