Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holding on, Letting go

Matilda was supposed to start pre-school this September. I say "supposed to"; there are two preschools she could go to in the area (since I don't drive, they have to be easy walking distance.) One of them will only take her if she's potty trained to the degree that she can go to the toilet by herself, sit on it, wipe herself and get dressed again without a reminder. NOT even close there. Matilda will stay dry most of the time IF you actually sit her on the potty at regular intervals, and she definately still needs a nappy to poo in. So that only left us with one option: Preschool "A".

We visited "A" and it seemed nice enough; Matilda stayed there happily for 2,5 hours the first day. I had explained that I would go shopping and come back to get her, and she seemed happy with that. When I went to pick her up, she was playing, but at home she was very clingy and said she was cross at me for leaving her.

The second she didn't want me to leave, so I stayed for a bit until she seemed to settle, and then left. I got a call about an hour later from the staff, saying that she was upset (I had asked them to call me if she got upset and wanted me.) I went and picked her up -she had still stayed for about 90 minutes total.

After that, she REALLY didn't want to go, so I let her stay home a couple of times. Then I told her that we could go to preschool, she could play with the other children, and I would stay with her. I had asked her key-worker if it would be ok for me to stay as long as she needed me to settle her before we agreed to send her there, and she had said yes. We got there, she started chatting with a little girl, and I sat down in a corner to watch. As soon as she noticed I wasn't next to her, her face fell and she got really anxious, looking for me. I called her over and explained that I would be sitting right there on the sofa, and she could go and play, but she just clung on me. After a few minutes, one of the staff came over and told me that they only "let" parents stay with new children for up to 10 minutes, and that hopefully she would settle herself, and they would call me if she got too upset. So I stayed for 10 minutes, and then I took my little girl and we went home.

EXCUSE ME? WHY should we only stay for 10 minutes? In what Universe are 10 minutes enough to settle a child to a new environment anyway? They told me some bull about OFSTED child protection regulations, but I happen to know this is just an excuse because a. I did a childminding course earlier this year and I was TOLD what the OFSTED regulations are, and b. the preschool that would only take her if she is pottytrained had actually told me they are happy for parents to come and stay with their child as often as they need to until the child settles in. So this begs the question: why exactly don't they like parents being there? What are they REALLY worried about? I don't know and I don't care -I'm just not happy leaving Matilda there anymore.

This whole pre-school/school rollercoaster is really annoying me... I don't like rushing my children to do things. They will do everything when they're good and ready. So Matilda isn't potty trained yet. Ok, she's a bit old for it, but what's the rush? We know there's nothing wrong with her, so what difference does it really make, in the grand scheme of things, if she wears nappies until she's 3, or until she's 4, or until she's 5? (I'm just saying.) The difference is that she needs to be potty trained to go to preschool "E". And what's the rush for her to go to preschool? The rush is that she is supposed to start school FULL TIME the school year after her 4rth birthday, and, since she is an August baby, this means that she would be starting school in exactly a year's time. So I kind of feel like I should be easing her into spending part of her day away from me before she's expected to do it from 9:00 to 3:30.

What is wrong with this picture? Matilda is intelligent. I have no doubt that she will have absolutely no trouble following the curriculum at school. But am I the only one that thinks 4 years old is a bit too young to be spending the majority of her day with strangers? If you factor in going to and from school and sleeping, that leaves about FOUR HOURS that she would be spending with her family each day -and thay's without ANY time allowed for homework or any other after school activities. I am sorry, but I don't like this. Not at 4, not at 5 and not at 6.

And to facilitate this... school career, I have to start training her, pushing her away from me now, at 3? Matilda is a happy child. She is secure and sociable. She is very affectionate and demonstrative, she comes over for hugs, cuddles and kisses often throughout the day. She loves other children, she is good at sharing and very good at accepting instructions and explanations of why she should or shouldn't do something. When she is feeling comfortable, she is not clingy at all. Several people, including the social worker who visits for our homestudy, have commented on how good both our children are at playing by themselves. So she isn't potty trained. So she likes me to hold her cup when she's drinking. So she wants to be around her loved ones. Why should I train her to not be around us before she's ready for it herself, and in what ways will this change her in 3, 5, 10 years' time? And will I like what it does to her?

Will I ever manage to find an answer?

My babies being superheroes:




Mighty Mat


Superhero Power: Levitating


SuperPip and Mighty Mat TO THE RESCUE



Anonymous said...

Don't be so defensive - each child is different, some love nursery some don't, some parents have/like to work and some don't!

Each person develops in their own way according to their experiences and surroundings, together with their genetic make up.

June Berger said...

If you don't feel like you want to send Matilda to school until she is older, then why don't you "homeschool" her until you feel she is ready? Maybe you could find out what the requirements are for your area and do that until she is older. Just a thought.

Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...

June, we're actually considering homeschooling quite seriously. But we haven't REALLY 100% decided we're doing it yet. It seems kind of scary to me to decide... Legally we wouldn't have a problem doing it, although if we go ahead and enroll her to school (which we're supposed to do December-January) we would then have to notify the authorities that we're taking her out of school, and we would likely be getting someone visiting and checking up on us. I'll have to go and check out your blog some more, for tips and HS experiences though...


Jim said...

Lots of people do home-schooling. It's not a bad option, as long as you make sure that the academics are at least as good as what the kids are learning in regular classes. You don't want your child to be falling behind academically. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%. We got the forms for school enrollment for my daughter a couple of weeks ago. Had a brief look through them, and the booklet of school info, and then shredded the forms and put the booklet in the recycling. No way. Not until she is old enough to decide how she wants to continue her education, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that by the time she's old enough to decide how she'd like to continue her education some of the benefits of mainstream schooling will have already been lost! I think you need to be careful not to think you're an expert in all areas of the curriculum and of socialisation.

Good luck, it must be nice to be so knowledgeable.

J said...

I have to put my two cents' worth in for home-schooling, so long as it's thought out carefully. I don't approve of those parents who think that all their kids need to know is contained in the Bible. That's a recipe for disaster. However, good home-schooling can take many forms, and it doesn't need to duplicate the cookie-cutter approach of the public schools. Our society can always use more people who have learned to think differently from the crowd. Some home-schooled students can and do make perfect SAT scores and get admitted to the most prestigious universities. If you want to do home-schooling, go for it.

Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...

Anonymous 12:59:
I agree with you. And also, similarly, by the time she's old enough to make up her own mind, some of the benefits of NOT being in school will have been lost. It works both ways. As parents, we need to make decisions for our children, based on research that we (and others) have done, and hope we have made the right decision. For what it's worth, we are thinking about it very carefully and that is why our decision is not 100% made yet. As far as socialisation goes, believe it or not, homeschooling does not consist of locking them in and not giving them any time with other children. There are many clubs and groups that they can join, and in our area alone (up to 1,5 hr drive) there are 2-3 homeschooling families' meetings a week that one could attent if wanted. On top of that, homeschooled children learn to socialise with people of all ages, not just their year group. (I have seen this in action with all the home-schooled children I've met.)


PS: Notice how I was NOT sarcastic?

Anonymous said...

No not sarcastic, factual. It is one thing to be clever, but another to have the knowledge to cover all aspects of a curriculum and have the ability to teach, simultaneously looking after other children. You seem to have such a busy life, I fail to see how you will have time to do all this. Oh and by the way it is not the be all and end all of life going to a "Prestigious University".

Anonymous said...

I think that the person who is making these sarcastic comments is just jealous.

Think of the advantages to your child:

* Not mixing with the riff-raff!
* Learning from the person who knows them best.
* Not having to wear and conform to a uniform.
* Not having to arrive for the school bell.
* Learning in a way to suit you.
* Being nurtured by the person who loves you best.
* Being protected from other uncontrollable influences.


I know a few people that have done homeschooling in varying ways and with varying success as you VERY CORRECTLY SAY YOU MUST DO WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT.

Jim said...

There have been millions of well-educated well-adjusted home-schooled students. Until very recently in human evolution, almost all children were educated within their extended family. And even today, most parents do a pretty good job of teaching language and social skills to their kids before they ever set foot instead a classroom. That's the hardest part of the whole educational process. After that, the teachers have it easy. And, true, you don't have to attend a prestigious university, but the many home-schooled kids admitted to top universities do prove that they can compete successfully against mainstream schools. Like all things in life, you should do what you believe is best for you and your family. Oh, and I am the father of two sons who were home-schooled for a while, and who did graduate from top universities. I'm not an educator, but it's no big deal.

Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. PLEASE keep it nice -I believe that when I post something on my blog it is entering a discussion with my readers, so anyone can tell me their oppinion, but I don't want this to turn nasty. IF IT DOES, I WILL LOCK COMMENTS.

Anonymous against :) I hear what you're saying. I certainly don't think I have deep knowledge of all areas of the curriculum... This is part of our hesitation in deciding we'll homeschool. But I think, especially in early primary school, the curriculum is quite simple, and can be covered quickly and as part of other activities that involve all family members.
For example, we quite often play "I Spy" around the house, and Matilda can easily identify the phonic sound words start with through this game. Also, there are many clear guides on what the curriculum is supposed to cover in every stage (Foundation, Key stage etc...) that you can find just by googling, and even (if you were inclined to pay for them) complete curricula designed by teams of teachers to cover an entire academic year.

I certainly don't think there is a universal "one size fits all" decision to homeschool or not -you do have to decide for your child. I DO think that 4 is awfully young to be in full time education, but that's just my view of it.

Anonymous for :) I don't think anyone is jealous... I do think that making decisions away from the norm can make people defensive (like you are disapproving of the decisions they made for their children) -I am not saying any of the commenters here are being defensive, but certainly I've found this to be quite common in the past with other things our family did, such as co-sleeping for example.

The various Anonymi *L* As a personal favour, please sign your posts... You don't have to use your real name, and you don't have to create a blogger id, just type a moniker in so I can distinguish among people and make clear whom I am replying to.



Jim said...

I'm not one of the "Anonymous" commenters, but I did inadvertently log in using two different accounts, so I have showed up here as both "Jim" and "J." In any case, I hope my comments haven't offended, and I fully support your right to decide, regardless of what your choice is. (I guess you could say I'm "pro-choice" regarding home-schooling.) As I said, I'm not an educator, and I bungled my way through several years of home schooling, yet it worked out fantastically well. With hindsight, perhaps my biggest failing wasn't the academics, but my tendency to let my kids eat junk food. If I could do it over again, I would feed them nutritious food. Do whatever you're comfortable with, but don't be afraid of home schooling. Best wishes to you.

The Un-Domestic Goddess said...

Anna - I really agree with you. We just had a baby girl in July and I think summer babies *sometimes* are not ready for school with other kids born the same year as them. Think about it - you are getting kids 6 and 7 months older in the same class and at three and four years old that is a significant age difference. In the US (not sure if this is an option in the UK) you can "red shirt" a summer baby who isn't quite ready for some aspect of school. We plan on doing this with our daughter. This gives us another year at home. I was born in September and entered school "on time" while I did exceptionally well academically, social situations were much harder for me, and I would have benefited immensely from another year home. Maybe this is feasible for you?
good luck and from reading your blog I know you're a great mother and will definitely make the right decision for your children.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I home educate, though my child did go to school at first and it was a disaster. That was just my experience though, all children are different. It is so easy for people to give their opinion on 'what a child needs' fogetting that each child is different. My son loved pre school, hated school. He mnay want to go back one day and I wouldn't have a problem with it. You know your own child, what your child needs and how much time you can dediate to them. For the person who asked how you would have enough time??? What do they think mothers did years ago before school was available to all? Just because it has been done for many years doesn't make it right for all. If anything, with our culture and society changing so rapidly maybe a re-think of how things are done is over due. Your children are gorgeous, you seem a wonderful person, and if you three year old doesn't want to be left after ten minutes in the presence of strangers (TEN minutes!!?? who are they kidding!!!) then I think you did the right thing!!