When my oldest daughter was approaching school age, people started telling me how ‘ready’ for school she was. How she would definitely be bored if she stayed home another year.
What did they see in her that made her seem ready? I think it was that she was confident, talkative, curious, eager to learn, independent for her age, social, very aware, and engaged with the world around her.
Apparently, those are the sorts of things that make you ready for school. I did not agree. To me, they were the sorts of things that are destroyed by school.
And so, she didn’t go to school. I thought we would take it a year at a time and see how things went, delaying it until I thought she was really ready. Until she was a bit older, more sure of herself, and less likely to be influenced by a schooling environment that was pretty much the opposite of our home.
Today she is 14 years old and still has never stepped foot inside a school. As she got older I realised that there is no magic time when children are ready for school. There is no age when you can suddenly say ‘ok, enough playing, it’s sitting at a desk for you from now on!’ No more following your interests, no more deciding how your day will go, no more eating when you want, or moving your body when you need to. No more freedom. No more autonomy. No more spending every day with the people who love you most.
There is no age when children are suddenly ready to give up their freedom and rights.
Nothing suddenly changes, whether you’re aged five or fourteen. The world is still an awesome place to explore and learn. Your home and community are still full of people capable of helping you learn, just as they did before now.
They seem to want us to think this is not enough for a child of [insert random age here]. They’re wrong. The only thing that could interrupt and impede all the awesome learning I see happening in our house every day is school.
School readiness is a myth. The checklists do not mean that your child should go to school, or that you are no longer able to meet their needs. They just mean your child is at a level where they will be easier to deal with. They won’t take up too much time. They’re independent enough, they can follow instructions, and they need ‘less’.
My child wasn’t ready for school at 5. She’s still not ready at 14. Her interests, passions, friendships, confidence, independence, and learning are far better nurtured in the real world. Her freedom and autonomy are not something she needs to be ready to give up for an ‘education’.