Sunday, April 09, 2006

(Not) missing out

The other day, someone said to me "Don't you think that your children are missing out on things by not going to school?" A few years ago, a question like that would have sent me on an emotional roller-coaster of guilt and uncertainty.

I can remember one time when that actually happened. My eldest (and at that stage onliest) was three years old. This was before our exciting "another year another country" life and we were still living in the same town my parents had moved to when I was not even two. I happened to drive by my old school (linked here so you can see the awful uniforms we had to wear and which haven't changed one bit since I left 20 years ago) just after school was out and saw some of the pupils standing outside. For some reason all the exciting, interesting things about being in school, like cheering my school on at sports events, came into my mind and I had an enormous rush of guilt that my offspring would be deprived of such experiences.

Later that day, or a few days later, I told a friend, Maria, about this experience. Her comment was one that will stay with me all through my life and it springs into my mind often. She said that every choice that we make has its pluses and minuses and that we can never make the perfect decision. As parents we do the best we can.

And so it was, when my concerned, well-meaning friend made this comment last week, I was able to stay calm and rational, and even quite amused. Now I know that school is not the be all and end all of youthful experience. Even if they do miss out on a couple of nice experiences, the positives of learning from home way make up for that. As for cheering on your school team, well the experience Robbie had yesterday in cheering on our home soccer team to their win against German Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich is worth 10 school sports days.

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