Thursday, 5 February 2009

A monopoly on the years of childhood

I am a stay-at-home mom. James and I have so structured our finances that I am able to bless my children by being at home with them during these precious, formative years. But beyond this, I want to be a stay-at-home my for as long as my kids are living at home. I don't believe that just the first 5 years are the most important. Each year older brings a new set of dreams, heartaches, troubles, trials, goals, aspirations. I want to walk beside each one of my children during the brief time I have to help them discover who they truly are, coaxing the beauty hidden within.

I have been struck deeply by a new thought this week. I have read much on the topic of homeschooling. I have read the positives, the drawbacks, the misconceptions, the encouragement. There are many standard attacks and defenses regarding this subject. But I was struck by a completely new angle this week that has refocused my view.

If I am a stay-at-home mom, then why let my children's formative years be monopolized by a government institution?

I have always wanted to be a teacher. The only thing that officially stands between me and teaching any grade in the school system is one year of teacher's college. And any teacher's college graduate will tell you that they learned next to nothing in the way of practical application during that year of schooling. I have taught drama and music and French. I excelled in all subjects during my own education. I have a love of learning and of teaching. I am more than qualified to be a teacher.

And if I am at home during the school hours, why shouldn't I then act as teacher to my own children? I can be the master of curriculum. I can teach more than the three 'R's. I can let them experience life.

There is no doubt I could fill the empty hours of the days that my children spend in school. There are many dreams and projects and charities that I could take up. But I see now, perhaps, that there is a a time and a season for everything. I need not rush these personal projects.

I am more skeptical than ever of a government that wishes to take children out of their homes, away from their families, for the majority of the weekday hours. Waiting in the wings, not too far now, will be full-time school for children starting as young as 3 years. Who is having the most influence on my child, then? I find myself wishing I could enroll my kids in classes only for mornings at least until the age of 10, if not beyond. What is 9am-3pm education (plus activities, plus homework) more than full-time babysitting so that parents may enter the workforce and prop up the national economy? I am sure this is not the best model for society.

I'm not sure a monopoly of anything is a good idea, but I like it least when I have to relinquish all of my control.

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