I think some of us come into parenting with set ideals and decisions already made about how we plan to parent, how we want to guide our children, and how we want to educate them. I have a number of friends in this wonderful Internet community who seem to have known since their children were very young just how they wanted to shape their child’s education. Many of them hope to educate with intense involvement, often through homeschooling, and they began to do so early in their child’s preschool years. In my ‘real’ life, most of my friends knew from a very early time that public or private education was for them and have been comfortable with the the public school system here in our state.
I admit I do not fall into either of those categories. Although I am not ignorant to the importance of education, my knowledge of how critical the earliest years are was stunted and my planning for my children’s education was focused on higher education. My husband, Mike, and I talked and saved and planned a lot for our children’s college educations, the importance of that having been instilled in us through our own experiences. In fretting about the increasing cost of this future education, we lost sight of the here and now for our children, most especially our daughter, who has now entered elementary school.
In our daughter’s earliest years, we both worked full time. She went through a variety of care situations, away from us. Our simple requirements for her care included love and play. We did not think beyond those to how the play might be guided. We wanted a small, nurturing environment for her. Once she had grown big enough, we accepted that it was time for kindergarten, not considering that she might be better suited to one more year of preschool in a bigger, more structured environment. And despite having a schedule that could allow it, we dismissed home schooling entirely, as I felt as though I could not handle it.
What we did not stop to consider at the time was that the very reasons I felt unable to home school might have been created by the arrangements we had chosen for her care. That some of the challenges our daughter presented may have been a direct result of her needing something different. And despite our honest love for our daughter, we were blindly going along with “the norm,” not pausing to decide what was right for her.
We are no longer stepping forward so numbly. Now, I can look back and consider what we should have done, what we could have done. Instead I look at our daughter, I smile, and I know in my heart we are doing for her now what we need to do for her, now. With no regrets and no fretting about the future, we are free to choose what is right for our daughter today, this week, this year.
Where she has been has helped shape the beautiful person that she is. Where she is going will nurture and encourage that beautiful person to continue to learn and grow and develop in the most amazing ways I cannot wait to discover in her.
Each family’s educational journey is unique. Embrace your journey!
Nicola Alesandrini lives in Northern California with her family, where she spends her days chasing kids, enjoying bits of nature, and avoiding laundry. She’s a jack-of-all-trades who loves economical and ecological living. She writes and crafts whenever she can squeeze it in and she blogs about it all at Which Name?