Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Great Replacement

"No matter how hard you try," a well-meaning person told me some time ago, with the air of delivering an eye-opening statement, "you will never be able to replace a kindergarten teacher for your children." 

I was rather short-tempered, but I wanted to be kind. I also knew that a long explanation would be futile, and would lead to yet another argument. What I said was simply, "it is the kindergarten teacher who will never be able to replace a mother."

But going back to the original statement... two things are implied here:

1. Small children need preschool/kindergarten, and the preschool/kindergarten program is without doubt the absolute ministry-of-education-regulated best. 

2. If you teach/keep your children at home, you must be trying to imitate the preschool/kindergarten/school setting, with yourself acting as the teacher. 

Even people who are prepared - very cautiously - to admit that maybe learning at home isn't a very crazy idea, are most reassured by the sight of children with workbooks, working with timetables and being graded for their work. Because of course, without daily drills and grading, there is no learning... right?

Last week, a mother confided in me that she is going to put her 18-months-old child (her only child, so far) in daycare, even though she doesn't work outside the home, because several family members insist that the boy needs more "stimulation" and "socialization"; since she looked so obviously dejected when she spoke of it, and since I was certain she knows my opinion already, I allowed myself to gently say that as far as I can see, a 6-hour-long daily period in a daycare center would be overstimulating, tiring, and overall pointless for her son.When we are talking of a baby who can't even speak properly yet, all the needed "socialization" is covered by the daily walk to the playground where he can see and interact with other people.

Since women entered the work force en masse, the question of what to do with the young children became highly relevant in almost every family. A home can be left alone, but not a child - and so day care centers, preschools and kindergartens became a widespread solution. This is now so normal that a mother who is raising her children at home is allegedly "replacing" a preschool teacher. Let us not forget it is the other way around.

The period of having small children at home is very intense, physically and emotionally demanding; it is also finite. It may last only a few years if you have just one child, or a few decades if you have many, but either way it will come to an end some day. Some day, perhaps all too soon, I will not have anyone barging into my  room shouting, "Peepee!" - nor will I need to interrupt an adult conversation in order to say, "please get your finger out of your nose". Life will be calmer, perhaps, and more rational - and a little duller as well.

So let us, mothers, savor this time with our children, and know that we are exactly where we are needed at the moment, and that no one - no one - can replace us. 


Anonymous said...

You showed great restraint, which is sadly a rarity in the world at this time. I am continually tested by a neighbor who is completely indiscreet with her comments, and am very aware that her indiscretion is considered 'the norm' around me. God has been gracious to give me the words 'at the right time'. I used to be filled with anxiety at just the thought of running into her and truth be told, if I am leaving my home and hear her about, will step back inside (!) until she is gone. That not due to fear, but prudence, so to keep my tongue from lashing her. Take heart. God is blessed by your devotion to your stance.

Lady Anne said...

I was so lucky to be able to stay at home until my girls entered elementary school, at least. To let somebody else hear your child's first words, to catch the baby's first steps, to see that funny expression the first time the baby turns over (wha? where did the carpet go?) - no, that should be your precious gift, and yours alone.

Even though I had to go to work when my girls started school, they all said their happiest memories were the days I was home (usually sick!) to greet them when they got off the bus, and all three were stay at home moms, themselves.

MissFifi said...

I am so sorry your friend feels she has been put in a tough position. The "socialization of children" argument among adults bugs me to no end.
I have an 18 month old son. He socializes with me, the neighbors, our friends and their children if they have any. We go to the park, the library and read and play and observe everything around us. Why is what I am doing insufficient? It boggles the mind that people believe home schooling of any kind means your child will be a social misfit.
I a not a homeschooler, but I have argued against the ridiculous "But they need to be with other kids to be socialized" argument for what feels like forever. These children are not locked in a basement somewhere chained to a dictionary. They have groups they participate in and they go to classes elsewhere.
I wish all the time and energy people spend on worrying about "socialization" was directed towards children who lack safe and sound parental guidance and love.

Katy M. said...

You gave this person a lovely, grace-filled response! :)

Anonymous said...

You may enjoy this list.

This one seems particularly apt...

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

Not saying you should use any of these responses (I'm not sure anyone actually does), but it's good to laugh at, and it reminds us that lots and lots of people have gotten these comments. It's not just you/me.


Mrs. Anna T said...

Unprocessedgal, I hear you. :o) I used to do the same thing (avoid a well-meaning but nosy neighbour) at the last stage of my pregnancy with Tehilla. She was born at 43 weeks and 3 days, see, and my neighbour was "worried sick" about us and was harassing me for about 3 weeks that I need to succumb to induced labor. Of course, I did not, and Tehilla was born just in *her* perfect time!

Tanya, that list was hilarious *laughing till my ribs crack*!

Ganeidaz Knot said...

I have been catching up & thought I would just comment generally on the whole homeschooling thing as we have done it all ways.

Our youngest was fully homeschooled, is a very *different learner*, has no graduation diploma & swore black & blue she did not want to go on to uni or the Conservatorium to continue her music studies. However she began helping with the remedial reading program at our local primary school, which led to some paid employment as an aide. She has picked up several private students for singing lessons, Cello & flute, does a little paid work in our home business & picks up some extra doing things like painting shoes. She still has plenty of time left for her own music & her studies [yes, she is studying on her own to get her cert.,III in Aiding] but is pulling an above average wage ~ though in no way an average 9~5 sort of job.

There are lots of different ways to achieve the same end. Be confident that whatever you choose for your family will work marvelously.

Let's face it, God came up with the idea for a plant; everything after is only a variation on a theme. Families are the same. Variety is key to a healthy community.

Thank you for sharing your journey.

Anonymous said...

A mother is a mother and a teacher is a teacher; each has a separate role to fulfill and one is not meant to replace the other. Why do you assume that a teacher is trying to usurp and replace the role you play in your child's life rather than simply be another positive role model and addition? Done properly, school can enrich and enhance a home life, not detract from it. Some people are naturally more outgoing and social while other people are more introverted and reclusive...for those who are more outgoing, group learning may enhance their educational experience. It is your right to choose to homeschool if you so choose, but I don't think traditional schooling fails everyone nor do I think that one form of schooling (classrooms, homeschool, etc) works best for all people.

Elizabeth Hanson said...

Thank you so much for this post! I need to be reminded sometimes, eventhough I'm going on year 6 of homeschooling our 10 children.

Anonymous said...

My daughter who has a degree that required a lot of classes in human behavior told me children first learn socialization through their parents. They are the only people who can truly socialize children. Children don't learn socialization from their peers. They learn survival of the fittest. Parents teach manners, patience, acceptance, sympathy, empathy. I truly believe bullying is more common today because children have learned how to survive in daycare centers. It's amazing that she had a couple of professors who were not progressives.

MarkyMark said...

This is now so normal that a mother who is raising her children at home is allegedly "replacing" a preschool teacher. Let us not forget it is the other way around.

Hear, hear! It's about time someone stated the OBVIOUS...

Anonymous said...

I see someone else mentioned this quote,
"This is now so normal that a mother who is raising her children at home is allegedly "replacing" a preschool teacher. Let us not forget it is the other way around."

Diane Shiffer said...

As a former professional, with several degrees in Early Childhood Ed, I wholeheartedly agree with you!