These last few months that the kids have all been in school have been eye-opening for me.
Sometimes when I was homeschooling, I second guessed. I wondered whether the kids were really getting out of it what I thought they were. My gut said yes, but there was no real proof, no way to be sure. I knew that the kids were doing just fine in terms of knowledge base, and I knew that they were well-liked kids, that they got along with other kids, that they had all sorts of interests and were getting a lot of time outside, that they got along well with each other, that they had lots of free time, and that they were happy.
But would things really be all that different if they were in school?
What I’m discovering is that homeschooling provided something that went beyond an individualized curriculum, beyond time for them to pursue their own interests. It provided them with an environment that fed their need for connection.
They say that right now they’re kept busy all day long, and that they’re surrounded by other kids all day long, but that they feel really alone. They enjoy being with other kids, and aren’t having particular problems, but they have a constant nagging sinking feeling. They’re describing a loss of connection with their home base. With me. With their brothers and sisters. L went to school last year, but she was right down the street, so she came home for lunch every day, had extra time in the morning to hang out, and had an hour after school with the rest of us before diving. That was enough to keep her fueled for her time away. Now she doesn’t have that, and she’s feeling the loss. Tee seems to be suffering the most. I had that heart wrenching conversation with him a couple of weeks ago at bedtime, when he told me how he felt like we were all drifting apart, and I thought it had mostly to do with our crazy evening schedule. Now I realize that he was talking about the whole day.
I wonder if this feeling of isolation, this craving for contact with their attachment figure(s) is particularly pronounced for them because they have two homes. Or maybe they are aware of the contrast between what it used to be like and what it is now. They have a basis for comparison, and they know what they’re missing.
Some people reading this might say that maybe my children are abnormally attached. That by homeschooling them I’ve delayed their independence, or stunted their development. But I think that my kids are just verbalizing what many children feel. My forays into the 1/2/3 classroom this year showed me how much the younger children crave physical contact, even with me, an adult they hardly know. I think that our culture asks too much of young children when it expects them to be away from their attachment figure(s) for six hours every day.