I have been reading this forum for a while with interest more or less lurking.
However, I can't let this just pass by. Especially since it's just
blatantly not true for many kids. And especially since I know that ALL kids
in any environment are not perfectly satisfied all of the time including
some, no doubt at Sudbury.
My Sarah has been homeschooled for several years. She is 12.5 and very
self directed. She has tried public school for a semester a couple years
ago and found it "okay" but she was bored and the rules and regulations
made her crazy. We agreed coming home again was the thing to do. We talked
a little about private schools, Montessori, Waldorf which she had some
interest in and alternative free schools like Sudbury.
My oldest child recently has left high school again to pursue her own
interests and seek an apprenticeship and/or work. She is almost seventeen.
She was suffering in public school. I was VERY glad to see her leave.
I mention these girls because they are very different.
Last Fall Sarah and I briefly visited Sudbury School nearly losing
ourselves forever down winding roads with scattered houses and all one
million trees. Sarah was mostly impressed, liked the tipi and/or tents she
saw outside and the fact kids were playing in the woods. But she was also
concerned that the peer pressure NOT to learn or create something because
most kids hung out out of doors would be as difficult for her in some ways
as the pressure to learn, etc. in school. She also needs a lot of privacy
and quiet to write stories and poems, etc. She reads a great deal and said
she might like to go to such a school when she was a little bit older, but
right now it would be too distracting. She also would miss our spontanous
lunches out to eat. ;-)
Now, to address the other issue. My daughter often has kids over and visa
versa. Sometimes I am here and other times I am not. More often than not
other than hello and goodbye I am only barely aware of their presence busy
with my own concerns. They attend a homeschooling modern dance with kids
rangeing from three to sixteen and parents and friends, a pot luck, etc,
etc. These are places they can go or not go as the spirit moves them. They
socialize with kids of different ages, races and religions happily.
(We are in Cambridge, MA)
They walk to stores, go out for icecream, go to the library and attend
plays, etc. They often meet at the park and stretch out in the grass and
talk.They ride bikes without adults. They babysit. They share and they have
time with completely different interests.
Sometimes they sit with family, sometimes they sit far away to whisper and
be alone. They are closer to family than public school kids, but far more
likely to puruse THEIR interests instead of the percieved view of
appropriate interests. My daughter spends a couple hours regularly sitting
on her bed playing guitar. Sometimes her friend comes over and plays.
Occasionally they sit outside and play. On nice days they ride the subway
to each other's houses and in the winter a bunch of them went ice skating
together with one parent who wandered around for safety sake since it was
in the Boston Common at night. They come and go within reason given common
courtesy and safety. They're lucky to have days that shift from day to day
depending on their interests, weather, money and imagination. These kids
are not yet older teens, so they do have more supervision living in an
urban area. However, Sarah's sister went and found a job and will work
about 20 hours a week, her choice. She is trying to volunteer at EarthWatch
to savew for a trip. She is probably going to start working with the people
at "Growing Without Schooling" and learn about how a magazine is published,
etc. She is waiting for the phone call. She called and left a message to
work at a stable to volunteer for handicapped kids involved in theraputic
horseback riding. She has done this in the past and would like to do it
again. She sat on the front porch beneath a tree and worked on her
vocabulary SAT pre-tests because she wants to go to college at some point
and wants a lot of options. She decided she would like to do this while she
chatted with a friend who has to attend school. Her day flowed from one
thing to another as she saw fit.
You may know kids who homeschool, but our perceptions are ours alone. I
know many kids who love homeschooling and flourish. Many of them might like
to attend a school like Sudbury. Other kids would not. However, the fact it
costs quite a bit, is difficult to reach and increases the time families
spend apart is one reason some parents don't puruse this option. They can
not afford it, possibly for several reasons.