Thoughts on Public School

As many of you know, my oldest entered public school this year (5th grade).  This has been both a positive and negative experience . . . for me and for my son (although I think I see the negatives more than he does . . . just like a mom, right?!).  :-)  Anyway, when people ask me, "How's school going for JW?" I don't really know how to answer the question.  Do they want the short answer or the long answer?  Do they want my viewpoint as an answer or JW's viewpoint as an answer? 

This week has been his spring break.  And, because of B's participation in The Savior of the World production in our stake, we didn't go anywhere.  That has been a lovely blessing!  But, boy, is JW ever in spring break" mode!!  With the things I'm seeing in him this week I've been asking myself many, many questions for next year and for him.  We've all pretty much decided that he's coming back home next year, so this week was a bit of a trial run (in my mind) to see how we are going to structure next year with him home again.  Three things I've been observing the past month or so (and especially this week):

1) Independence:  I'm recognizing that the transition phase is mostly about independence (at least for us).  Public school has been great for both of us to better recognize this need in JW's life.  For me as a mother and him as the oldest, it's new territory in figuring out the boundaries.  Because of school, I'm definitely more open to him being more detached from the apron strings. 

2) Friends & Being Away from Home:  I'm also recognizing his need to be away from home more, his need for comradery with his peers.  This is the big thing he's most nervous about for next year.  He likes the daily interaction.  He likes getting away.  These are not bad things, it's just reality and something we'll need to face for next year.  With this need I've been tempted to overschedule him for next year (as I think about his schedule).  There are so many ways to get him "outside the home" but do I really want to be the one getting him to all of those places (especially with a new baby in the mix!)? So, I've got to be sure I balance this need while protecting our family needs as well.

3) Scholar Phase or Not?:  Watching him this week something dawned on me very strongly.  This boy wants the perks of being older (scholarish) but he doesn't necessarily want to put forth the effort (take care of the responsibilities) that come with being a scholar.  Now, this could simply be what I'm seeing because he's in "vacation mode" and not having 7 hours of school do deal with each day.  But, it's still something I need to figure out between now and next year. 

My Plan
This summer I will have two goals:  give him plenty of Core/Love of Learning time (de-school him so to speak) and figure out and explain what the next phase really entails, both the responsibilities and the blessings.  I've read not to make "staying in LofL phase" a punishment, and knowing myself I think I'll need to work on my approach before I discuss the plan with him.  :) 

I also will need to be sure that the move to scholar phase is really his choice and not my perception of what I think he should be doing right now (he's still young).  I can say that I have seen a general lack of motivation that has developed in JW since school has started.  When he's home he just wants to play . . . and I have let him because after 7 hours of structure, I wanted him to just play . . . but his educational motivation is not as strong as I think it once was.  That I miss and would like to see it again!  :-)  Again, I take some responsibility for this as well in the sense that I could have demanded more from him at home, but chose not to (I'll blame it on pregnancy). :-)

So, there you have it.  My jumbled thoughts of the week.  I will say, that it has been so much fun having JW home this week.  Even with these questions to answer for next year, I'm still very excited to bring him home again.  Actually, I can't wait!


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