I have blogged a few times about Helena's choice to attend public school, and more specifically my feelings about it. You can find those older posts here and here. At the crux of all of this for me was really letting it be her own choice, despite my own feelings.
She breezed through 3.5 weeks of kindergarten with a smile on her face and a skip in her step. She started the first week of 1st grade eagerly, and was excited enough about it to choose to attend school on her birthday that week, when she had previously insisted that she wanted to stay home.
Then came the weekend, and Sunday evening, while we were snuggling in and getting ready for her to go to sleep, she mentioned she may not want to stick with school.
This took me by surprise, but really, it shouldn't have. I questioned her on why. Her reasoning makes sense to me. In a nutshell, she's developed some close friendships with some home-schooled/unschooled friends, which really solidified over the summer. She really likes the things she does with them. And she'd rather spend her time having more time with them.
Our agreement when she started kindergarten June 1st, was that she would finish the year, and then if she didn't like and didn't want to continue, that would be fine. She was so enthusiastic about returning to 1st grade that we didn't really revisit what it would look like to quit if she decided she wanted to. I think she knew it would be an option, it certainly always has been in my heart.
The agreement we have come to now, is that if she's feeling like she doesn't want to continue, we'll give it a couple of weeks and if she still feels that way, then she can stop going. She seems content with this arrangement, and it feels reasonable to me. She has already said once since then that maybe she'd like to continue longer than 2 more weeks. We haven't said this to her, but we also decided, if at any point things seems bad for her there, then there would be no waiting period, we would just pull her out.
We started off the week with her still attending school without complaint, but as we've gotten later in the week, she's begun to protest going at all, so much so that we're having a "sick" day today and then weekend to think on it. Then, we may just be done.
This all comes at such an interesting time for me...at this time when my values and life choices seems so much more solid and real and me , then they did even 3 months ago. I talked about about that here. One of those values is to choose from clarity, rather than reaction, and this is where we're at with this right now. Taking the time to consider the benefits and disadvantages of both situations, and really, of honoring the inherent value in each path, and then simply choose the one that feels right.
I have spent a lot of my life feeling like there had to be something wrong with a circumstance in order for me to choose not to be involved with it. I think it's a fairly common trait, to criticize that which we choose not to associate ourselves with. It's one that hasn't felt good to me for awhile though, this choice to make other people and situations wrong so I can feel right about my own choices. If I can move beyond that, and I think I'm moving in that direction, then I can approach life and people with a more truly open heart.
There has been no specific incident that precipitated this discussion about leaving school, at least not one that I can determine. There are some things that I've heard about that I'm less than thrilled with in terms of classroom management, but in all honesty, these don't seem to be issues for Helena, just stories she's relating about her days there. Her desire to leave is more a sense of there's something else that's more appealing. I'm grateful at this time in my life, to be able to provide her with this option to choose.
What I can say now from an open hearted place is that I see the hard work that is going on at the school Helena attends, and the commitment on the part of the staff there to provide a quality experience for those who attend. And I'm grateful for it. And, it may not be our path, we'll decide soon.