M is three years old, and already most people respond to the news of my upcoming travel lifestyle with one single question, “But what about going to school?”
What about going to school? She goes to school now. It’s fine. There are things she likes about it (her friendships and teachers) but there are more things she doesn’t like about it, and neither do I. Namely that she is allowed much less independence than what she can handle, and is subject to rules that exist to keep order but that don’t actually benefit her. She prefers not to go to school, even though she often enjoys the activities and friendships there. She’d rather stay home, though, which tells me that even at age three she finds her own interests, and the real world, more interesting than the artificial world created by school. She wants to go with me to the bank, the vet, and the grocery store. It’s easier for me to go alone, sure, but she truly enjoys “real life” learning and prefers it over simulated learning.
She’s extroverted, however, and seeks out friendships with her age-mates as well as with older children and adults. Today at the swimming pool she asked no fewer than five children if they’d like to be her friend and play with her, and they all said no. (I was an introverted child and probably would’ve replied in the same way, but it breaks my heart to see her heartfelt offers of friendship so primly turned down.) She really wants to play and laugh and bond with others, so I do wish that she could go somewhere that included children in a community-like setting, but without the institutionalized and formal environment. I wish we could find Sudbury schools where she could form these friendships while also being surrounded by materials that inspire learning and creativity, but without the adults dictating to her what she should do with all of her time.
We may find some of these types of “schools” while traveling, but we may not. For now, I intend to seek out some home day cares wherever I’m working where she can go a few times a week for part of the day to play with and interact with others. We may find some democratic schools or learning communities that allow part-time enrollment. But once she’s five or older these options will be harder to come by, as almost all of the other children around will be in traditional schools all day, and Sudbury or democratic schools require full-time enrollment and high tuition.
I have no doubt that we will figure it out as we go. She may decide she wants to go to school and try it out. I’m not sure but I know it will work out… I just don’t know how many of our friends’ and family members’ heads will explode in the process if I have to tell them all that I’m not sending her to school!