Friday, December 30, 2005

On Sheltering, Also Known as Overprotecting, or, Why I don't send my Kid to Public School

When a mother is carrying a baby outside, and it suddenly grows cold and begins to rain, what does she do? Naturally, she draws the child closer, bundles her in her own coat if necessary, and covers her dear head with any manner of things to keep her dry. The mother will weather the storm cold and wet, but the child will stay warm and dry.  When a thief enters a house and the family is sleeping, what is the first thing the parents do? They will of course run to the children to shield them with their own bodies, giving their own lives to protect their children from harm or death.  No one questions whether or not these actions are the right ones to take. In fact, if a parent did not take these actions to protect their own children, their ability to parent, and perhaps even their sanity would come into question.  However, when a baby turns five years old, the parents are supposed to, without question, walk the child to the front of a cold institution, usher her inside to spend the next four hours with total strangers, then come back and pick her up and expect that she is better for the experience. No one questions whether she is a good mother. No one even thinks that she should be considering another choice.

In the classroom, which is to become the child’s second home for the next nine months, she is one of as many as 20 children, any of whom may carry any manner of viruses and bacteria. Any of these same children may possess any manner of socially offensive behaviors or mannerisms which go uncorrected by parents who are unwilling, unable, or simply ignorant to correct.
The teacher, who is yet another stranger is expected to manage and control the behavior of this clutch of squirming limbs and bodies and even more, to send them home having learned to say their colors and read and write and count and add and how to understand that anyone's lifestyle is okay, no matter how deviant, it's just different.

A five year old is fresh, innocent, and trusting. What he is told, he believes, and what he is taught, he lives. There was a famous book that generated a whole fad of kitschy knock-offs in the eighties called, “All I Ever Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” Perhaps you remember it. I wonder what the title would be called today? “All I Need to Know to Function in a Watered-Down World where Everything is Relative I learned in Kindergarten.”

What happened to sheltering our children from the "rain" and simply teaching them what is right, simple and good? I can’t apologize for being unwilling to send my child into the cold building with the big glass double-doors and the rent-a-cop standing by the door, no matter how fresh the paint or how cute the decorations. I simply don't believe that a child has the capacity to, or even needs to learn to cope with incredible complexities of the world he lives in. That is the job of the parents. A child should be allowed to just be himself and taught how to be the best "himself"that he can.

People would say to me that I am overprotective. Good. If I am to live by the philosophy that I just stated above, I need to shelter my child's life with my own. I need to teach him what it means to be safe, secure, and loved. I need him to believe in something (not just anything) so that he will have an anchor when he is older. Please don’t tell me that I’m doing my child a disservice by loving him at home.

9 comments:

  1. Great post Kelly. I agree 100%. I found this through the WTM forums under the ? why do you homeschool.

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  2. Wow! I so wish my family could read this and take it to heart. I know they wouldn't, but I can dream.

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  3. I really appreciate the comments. I know that many people feel this way, but it is hard sometimes to articulate it gently. Forward it to them, see what they say!

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  4. I agree totally. When others tell me that the kids need to 'get out more,' or they 'need to have friends', it is hard for me to keep my blood from boiling. I am glad to shelter them.

    I basically tell them that I am unwilling to throw them in with the wolves without teaching them to protect themselves first.

    I am not sure if they get it, but it usually ends the conversation.

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  5. I love this post. You nailed it.

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  6. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts down and share them with the world. I've searched for one person who shares my views and today I have found just that - you. Thank you.

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  7. Wow. Thank you. I'm glad you were encouraged, and hope that you will continue to stand firm in your convictions.

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  8. Just came across your blog and boy I am blessed already! I am a mother of two who are almost 3 and 2 and I am def going to homeschool. What an encouragement you are!

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  9. This is a great read! I love reading your reasons. - Victoria

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