Posted by: whimsigal | June 26, 2008

He uttered the dreaded words today

No, not shit, or damn, or hell. Those words I can take. No, today Ryan said, “I want to go to school, Momma.” Of course, my first instinct is to cry because I must be doing something wrong for him to want to leave me and go to that place but then, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. First, unlike his big brother, Ryan has never gone to “real” school, as he calls it. When he was 2 he went to preschool but I pulled him out when he was 4. Second, I remembered something I read on Sandra Dodd’s unschooling website. Many times when a homeschooled child voices a desire to go to school, more often than not, they are expressing a desire for something else but they’re not sure how to communicate it. So tonight, I dug a little deeper and tried to get to the root of Ryan’s wish to attend public school.

When asked why he wanted to go to school, initially he said, “I don’t know”. So I posed the question differently by asking what he thought he would like about school to which he responded, “well, at school I’ll have a reading time, a playtime, lunchtime, play with toys time.” To me, it says the boy who has a very unstructured day is needing some structure. Is that how you might read it?  I explained to him that we could very easily meet those needs here at home.  I told him if he wants to go to school, he is more than welcome to do that.  I also told him that going to school means no more sleeping until 10am if he’s too tired to get up and no more staying up late.  Upon hearing that he immediately decided against going to school and began asking questions about what we could do at school.  Could we read books?  Could we learn about Ancient Egypt?  Could we learn about plus and minus?  Of course, I answered yes to all of these things.  We can do so much more here because we don’t have any set rules to follow.  This seemed to please him and he’s ready to start asap.

I feel good about how this conversation went because we really connected with one another and he truly seemed to appreciate everything we talked about.  He was genuinely excited with the ideas discussed and what a joy it was to be a part of it.

Is there anything you would have done differently?  Something else I can do for him?



  1. I think you handled it well!

    I remember once Brady said he might be missing out on things at school. We talked about how when you make a choice to do something, there’s always somthing else you miss out on. So you choose the one you want most. When he realized all the homeschooling things he’d miss out on by going to school, he decided against it.

  2. Hi there Evie! Welcome to WordPress, I’m just “next door”!

    I also think you handled things well with your boy. “Structure” is not always a dirty word. It doesn’t have to stifle creativity or spontanaity if applied with a bit of wisdom, and not allowed to become “rules”.

    Enjoy this new and interesting part of your homeschooling journey!

    Cheers from cold, wet Auckland,

  3. My daughter likes a more structured day as well. It floats her boat, and she likes to be busy. Remember you are the facilitator, follow his lead. He said he wants it like this, so try it! He may change again. Marlin is always structure for a month, off for a month, and then needing it again. I just follow! Good job!-Kim

  4. I think it is healthy for him to ask about school. Wouldn’t you rather Ryan discuss it with you than keeping the idea to himself? It’s normal for kids to question why things are being done and the alternatives.
    My son was cracking on my older mini van. I told him I could go to work full time and we could get a lot of nice things. He looked very happy until I went on to say if that was the case I’m not sure he could get to football practice each morning this summer and he would have to watch his sister at home during the day.
    Yes, you did well with that issue.

  5. You didn’t respond negatively, you didn’t say “that’s not gonna happen bub”, you looked and listened for his concerns and addressed the choices and possibilities. Sounds like it went pretty well. With all the school propaganda in the TV and books available to kids, it is gonna happen. Its a great time to discuss choices and options and it sounds like he wants structure for a while.

  6. Joan,

    I certainly didn’t meant to imply that I was unhappy with ryan talking to me about school. I was, very poorly apparently, trying to be a little tongue in cheek when I said I wanted to cry at the question. I’m absolutely glad he asked about it and hope he continues to do so with other issues in his life!

    Thanks for thinking I did well with it! 🙂

    thanks to Laura, Cate, and Kim, too!! You guys all had really great responses as well!!


  7. I think that you did great! My oldest asked to go to school once, he wanted to eat lunch out of a lunch box. So we bought him one when they went on clearance. We used it for all of our field trips and on days that we just wanted to have a picnic. He loved it.

    Keep up the good work!!

  8. You did great!

    Naturalist remembers school and doesn’t ever ask to go back. But Golfer doesn’t remember and every 6 months or so he’ll ask about school like Ryan. When I talked it out, he said he wanted to ‘be the first kid to raise his hand to get a question right.’ So, I incorporated a lot of trivial pursuit type games into our day, and he loves it.

    I also use that as an indication that he’s ready to do more ‘structured’ things, like classes at the Zoo, Science Museum, community center, etc.

    I love the things he asked to do. 🙂

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