Too Cool for School...Unless it's Homeschool...or The English Schoolhouse

If you follow this blog you know that our eldest son is allergic to a few of the allergies is life threatening. It's something you may be sipping on with coffee as you read this post--milk. While blogging under stress a week or so back I divulged that I've been thinking a lot about homeschooling (I meant long term) and vegetarianism/veganism lately. The homeschooling idea has been swirling around in my mind for awhile now and is really completely unrelated to our son's dietary restrictions.

In fact, I'm already doing it, as informal as it may be.

Our son is 4.25 years old. I don't know where you are reading this, but here in Italy they start 'em to school early. And when I say early, I mean by a year old the little ones are normally already in asilo nido (which is the equivalent of daycare). Some 1/2 day, but most of the kids are there all day. My husband and I tried twice to place our son in a couple of different private schools that differed drastically on all things: teacher to student ratio, approach, philosophy, play time, cleanliness...he never got through inserimento (the first two or three week adjustment period). And it wasn't because he didn't like it...he was always, ALWAYS ill. And I'm not talking your common cold...we're talking Biblical plague kinda stuff. Rashes. Fevers that lasted for an abnormal amount of time. Vomiting. Locusts. (ok, no locusts) Plus the common cold stuff. While the general sentiment here in Rome seems to be that violent illness is a necessary part of school adjustment and that children have to form their anticorpi (antibodies), the American mom and teacher in me just couldn't get with it...and still can't.

We made the decision when he was around three to just pull him out of school indefinitely, and he hasn't been back. He's a Preschool dropout.

As I hear the neighborhood kids skipping and running off to school with their backpacks every morning, there are some times when I doubt our decision. After all, if we were still living in Dallas and I was still working at Kramer Elementary, he'd more than likely be in Pre-K. But that's the thing--he'd be there because I'd be a teacher at the school. If I were a stay at home mom or employed in another profession, he'd be at home until Kindergarten-5 years old...and even then I'd be interested in a 1/2 day program. In America, that's normal. If a mom or dad can stay home with their kids during the day until they're of Kindergarten age, they do. And the culture really supports this approach--there are playgroups and mom/dad meet up groups and homeschooling programs that model Pre-K work but let you work at your own pace.

When I try to explain this difference to moms of a different opinion here, I get one or all of the following-
*blank stare*
-information on the school their child attends
-a sweet lecture on why it's important for him to be in school.

I often joke that I'm surprised no one has referred me to whatever the Italian version of Child Protective Services for neglect.

Whatever. I think it's good to mull over decisions, even long after they've been made...but I ultimately stand firm in ours. Last week I told our son we'd be formalizing his homeschooling and he was thrilled.

The first day was last Thursday. Here's some of what we did:

this is his favorite toy right now--a chameleon that changes color in the sun

we worked on drawing it together

and read a great story about a chameleon that learns to just be himself

and we did some writing work
We also danced, cooked, worked on the letter C, laughed, joked around, read another story, and did some math with the laundry.

When it was time to go to the store, I told him that was the end of the lesson.

He ran up to me, threw his arms around my waist and exclaimed, "Thank you for making this school for me mama! I love it!"

"We're not even at The English Schoolhouse!" I laughed.

"This is the best school," he said. And I agree.