Is school good for children?

(67 Posts)
skewiff Fri 28-Sep-12 10:49:17

I just wonder whether school is a place in which children do actually learn to be social?

I wonder whether it teaches children to love or hate learning?

It feels like sending my child to prison every day. He is only 5 and does not want to go to school. He would much rather stay at home and read and play.

This morning I had to tear him away from reading his books - reading the words etc - and get cross with him for not wanting to go to school. It felt all wrong. Tearing him away from enjoying learning to force him into a place where he hates being forced to learn.

I know that home schooling is not an option for everyone - but I just wanted to open a discussion about the pros and cons of schooling versus home schooling here.

pianomama Fri 28-Sep-12 12:42:03

Well, I know how your DS feels. I don't feel like getting to work in the morning sometimes.
But this is something we just do.

The important point about school is learning discipline.

May be you are a bit too soft with him? This is not something that should be discussed with a child - he has to go school (unless you want to HE of cause).

I would start with finding out why he doesn't like the school - any problems with other kids/what's the teacher like? But anyway , he is only just started so I would give him a bit of time to adjust but never make him feel that school is optional.

I am not a big fan of HE but I accept in some cases its the only option.
Some children have SN which schools can't cater for. Some specialize in something which takes too much time and its easier to HE to fit other activities with academic work.

If the only problem is that your DC does not like school, I'd say put your foot down.

School can be good for children, but it doesn't suit all children. And even if it does suit them, it's not the only or necessarily the best thing for them.

Have you given serious thought to home education? It sounds like you feel it would suit him better than school at the moment.

cakeandcustard Fri 28-Sep-12 13:00:42

I feel exactly the same, my 5 year old DS doesn't want to go to school either. I think he has a lot more fun at home - school seems to be all about teaching them that life's not fun, its very depressing.

A lot of the time I feel he would be better off home-educated, but school does give them a better opportunity to socialise with other children - more than I would be able to.

LittenTree Fri 28-Sep-12 13:18:05

I think a lot of teachers and quite a few parents might disagree with the statement 'school seems to be all about teaching them that life's not fun, its very depressing'!

Not all school is going to be fun, fun, fun, but you don't need me to spell out that some very worthwhile things in life start out 'not fun' but can become things from which we derive huge enjoyment and feelings of self-worth once we have done the 'hard yards' and have mastered them.

Yes, we do send our DC to school young in this country, but we can also be deceived into thinking that other countries don't- it's just their educational starts are labelled 'pre-school' and 'kindy' which was associate with under 5s whereas their 7 year olds are still going to s-'labelled institutions, but once there, they're also learning letters, numbers, how to shut up, keep still, wait their turn, share etc etc.

Because this isn't on the HE thread I can say that, with a fair bit of knowledge of HE, He is a multifaceted beast. Of course it 'works' for many parents and DC' (but rarely for one but not the other!); but a fair slab more emerge 'educated' and articulate- but completely unable to relate to their peers and a little arrogant. Just my observations. The social aspect of school is, for most DC, very important.

And for me- and I can only speak for myself in this respect- I'm glad that school has taught my DSs that life does tend to yield back in direct proportion to your input, both good and bad. Allowing them to stay home and 'have fun' all day would not have done this! And no, not all learning can be 'made fun', even at 5.

seeker Fri 28-Sep-12 13:24:32

If he's being forced to learn at 5 then there is something badly wrong with the school.

skewiff Fri 28-Sep-12 13:30:05

But Littentree (and I don't want everyone to say HE is great - do that instead - so thank you for your thoughts), just to bounce back my ideas ...

A child of 5 is so young to learn that you just have to get up and go to work every day.

I would like DS, one day, to work in a job that he is really passsionate about. So that he doesn't find it arduous and boring getting up every day for work, but actually looks forward to going. Both DH and I have been lucky in finding jobs like this, but only through luck and later on in life.

When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do because none of the stuff learned in school related to the real world.

I can see that, at 5, DS has real and defined passions about certain things. He loves reading. He loves numbers. He loves learning about the olden days in various forms. And DS would do this throughout the day of his own choosing at his own pace and ask questions along the way. He wouldn't even see it as learning or work or whatever it is seen as at school.

That's what happens at weekends and holidays with DS. He learns so much during the holidays.

He said to me this morning that he wasn't enjoying school anymore (Yr1) because he always had to do what the teacher said and could never play, like he wants to.

Firstly I think at 5 it is a terrible thing to think that a 5 year old should be soft for wanting to play. I think it is a terrible thing to restrict a 5 year old from playing. And this is, after all, the way that 5 year olds learn anyway - through play.

So learning being fun - for me means learning through play. And that is exactly what DS would do ALL day if he was at home. Whereas when he is at school he is being forced to be quiet and sit still and listen and do this and that - that is all in the teacher's order of how things should be done and not the children's at all.

LittenTree Fri 28-Sep-12 13:32:51

OK, so HE! That's obviously the way to go for what you want for your DS.

singingmum Fri 28-Sep-12 13:41:08

Ok so he loves to learn when home and you seem to be considering if this would be best for him now. Well I have a son whose now 18 he's been HE almost his whole life and like your son he could read very young and loved it. I did try nursery and what a joke they wouldn't let him read(yes it is true his teacher didn't like that I'd let him learn naturally before starting) he couldn't put up with the others making noise when he wanted to read or write. My son thanks me everyday for HEing him and his 12yr old sister feels the same. They both socialise a lot with other people of all ages and abilities they attend/ed different activities where they've met lots of new people and are articulate and able to have a social life better than some of their school ed friends.
As to some subjects can't be taught in a fun way thats nonsense.I have even managed to make math science and geography fun. The people who are saying this have obviously not seen a large slice of HE children.
I have an excellent relationship with both my children and they are both happy and driven to succeed. In fact as someone who was school ed I really wish my parents had HE'd me as school drove me crazy and I just quit after bad teachers,bad behaviour and generally bad experiences. Yes my children have had some of the experiences of school such as bullying, cruelty of adults who believe children should be locked up all day etc,but they have been able to deal with it better than I ever did knowing they can walk away from these things and just get on with their lives.
I'm probably about to be flamed but when people post without any real knowledge it annoys me as I know what schooling can do to children with real interests in learning. It can completely turn them until they stop learning for fun and just give up

It does sound like HE would suit you and him!

Are there reasons you decided to try school? If so, do you think they have turned out how you hoped, or do they seem less valid than they did a year ago? If there are things that you were worried about with going the HE route, what were they and can you see ways of getting round them?

I don't mean you have to tell us all this, just think round it and consider why you're sticking with school at this stage, when you seem to have thought seriously about HE and have a preference for the flexibility it would give him to learn more autonomously.

claraschu Fri 28-Sep-12 13:44:31

School can be a place where lively sparky children are turned into adults who will put up with a boring unfulfilling job, because they have learnt "discipline".
School can also teach children a lot of horrible social skills, like living with being bullied or being unable to communicate with people who aren't your age.

Of course, the right school can be absolutely wonderful.

If I could disagree with Litten, I know 5 families who have HEd, either temporarily or long-term, and the children (in 3 cases now grown up) are friendly, sociable, and not at all particularly arrogant.

When I hear HE blamed for producing arrogant, unsociable people, I can't help noticing that most of the annoying people I know went to school, but no one blames school for their shortcomings.

skewiff Fri 28-Sep-12 13:49:49

There is no home educational group in my area. There is a very small Christian one, but I am not a Christian and I would prefer there to be a larger group of mixed people to join in with. The closest group is an hour's journey away and that feels like a long way. It feels too far for making and keeping friends.

I am sticking with school because all the children round here are in school all day and, although I would love it, I don't think it would be good for DS being just with his sister and myself.

Also my DS has mild cerebral palsy and he is already different from the vast majority of children. I don't want to separate him more.

These are the only reasons that stop me though. I don't feel comfortable with our education system. And every day I question what I am doing to/with him.

I suspect the "unsociable" HEd children are much like the "unsociable" only children - when you meet someone for whom both things happen to be true, it sticks in your memory as "proof" that they are connected, whereas you don't particularly remember the sociable HE or onlies. Or you remember them as an odd exception to the "rule".

I did know someone at university who was very arrogant and had been HEd, and I do think that school would have knocked some of his corners off, and at least taught him to pretend that other people might be worth his consideration. But I blame his parents for raising him as an arrogant little prince far more than for choosing to HE him.

So long as you're not choosing to HE so that you can continue to wait on your child hand and foot and behave as though the sun shines out of his backside, I don't think there's any reason for it to become a problem.

claraschu Fri 28-Sep-12 13:57:53

I know exactly how you feel. I was in the same situation 12 years ago, and chose school for the same reasons you have chosen it. My oldest son is now finishing A levels, and it has been a very mixed experience for all of our 3 children. I think if I could do it all again, I would choose more HE mixed in with some school.

Are there ways you could get DS more time with other children outside of "school hours" if there isn't much available in terms of actual HE? If he was in cubs/beavers, music or drama groups, sports clubs if there are suitable ones for him, etc then the lack of other children from 9 till 3 might not seem such a big deal. It can be hard to do a lot after school because of tiredness, but if he wasn't at school that issue would disappear, though costs might start to add up of course.

gymboywalton Fri 28-Sep-12 14:23:24

you could always look around for another school that practises continuous provision through kd1 and then he would be getting to play every day and the majority of his lerning would be play based.

gymboywalton Fri 28-Sep-12 14:23:47

fuck! KS! and leArning!!!! typos sorry

rabbitstew Fri 28-Sep-12 15:55:44

School is good for some children, bad for others. Most children go through school. There's not much more you can really say about it without accidentally turning the specific into the general... Although it might help if you made it clear whether you think your child genuinely hates school, all day, every day, or whether he dislikes being taken away from an enjoyable activity in a safe environment at home each morning and knows how to press your buttons.

Do you know what your ds is doing all day at school? Have you spent a day in a classroom of children his age to see what actually goes on? Perhaps you could volunteer to help out somewhere?... If you got the opportunity to do that, it might help you be more decisive about whether HEd is for you or not, and/or if school is bad enough to make you want to HEd - relying on a 5-year old to tell you accurately everything he did that day and which bits he enjoyed and which he didn't and how much he was forced into doing things against his will is not a hugely accurate way of assessing the situation. In my experience, KS1 is most definitely NOTHING like learning how to get up and go to work, though.

wordfactory Fri 28-Sep-12 16:20:19

School simply does not suit all children.

How could it? It's an institution.

However, it's a big mistake to assume school doesn't suit other DC or is in some way bad just because it doesn't suit yours.

pianomama Fri 28-Sep-12 16:26:56

The same as HE - it suits some children who's parents are really good at HE.
I take my hat off to the parents who do a good job at it - I know I could not do it unless I employed lots of different tutors. I do think it is important for a child to spend a part of their day away from mothers, to act as an independent person, even as young as 5.

lljkk Fri 28-Sep-12 16:35:26

You asked about pros & cons...

A lot of the things that HErs dislike about school are things I like about school.
Some of the things that HErs love about HE I would profoundly loathe.
I still think it's great that we can all find so many positive ways thru to an acceptable education for our kids.
You need to talk to the HErs here & elsewhere online, I'm sure they'd lay to rest all your doubts about HE.

throckenholt Fri 28-Sep-12 18:33:09

You will find some evangelical home edders who will tell you school is bad for kids. You will get most parents who send their kids to school who think HE is awful. There is a spectrum. For some kids, school is great. For some it is totally wrong. For some kids, it the the actual school that is wrong, and moving them to a different one works for them.

My personal feeling is that for a lot of kids school as we do it at 5 is too young. Many of them are not ready to conform to the timetable of school life, and the social stress of being with lots of people all day. Boys in particular are not really ready for the sitting and getting on with stuff associated with school.

For some parents school is a godsend - their kids really need the stimulation of being out of the house.

You could, for example decide to HE for a couple of years (it doesn't have to be a once only choice). If you did that, you could either go for a formal approach (try and model the school curriculum), or go free range and do whatever suits you - he will be learning stuff either way. You say he has already learnt to read which is pretty much what the first few years at school aims to achieve.

Socially - some kids thrive on the big groups of school, others hate it. Only you know which is your child, and whether you can give him social opportunities outside school (most people can with existing friends, family etc).

teacherwith2kids Fri 28-Sep-12 19:59:24

" For some kids, school is great. For some it is totally wrong. For some kids, it the the actual school that is wrong, and moving them to a different one works for them."

Can I agree wholeheartedly with this?

DS has been in school, and has been home educated. His first school became a disaster in Year 1, and his head said at that time that she didn't think he would ever be returnable to a mainstream school when I took him out to HE him.

I thought long and hard about long-term HE, but wanted him at secondary to have that contact with subject specialists that I so much loved, and saw returning him to school as the best path towards that (note that DS is a 'spiky' individual, and HE would almost inevitably have hugely accelerated him in some areas while leaving other areas behind, not a good mix for re-integration at Year 7).

He went to a different primary, and all school-related problems (he had been a school-induced selective mute with marked ASD traits) disappeared. That school was great for him - the first one was totally wrong for him. A school move - particularly if he is currently in a school where fun and love of learning is not in evidence - might well work wonders.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Sep-12 20:12:47

What an interesting question!
DC1 was in day nursery from 7 months - it was a fantastic environment, and I remember there was a point a few months after he started when I realised it was so good that having originally being where- he- was-so-I- could-work, I wanted to work so he could be at that place... And I remember saying to DH that if I won £20 million on th e lottery I would ensure that many more Dc could have that same experience...
He was very happy there. Then at 4.5 he went to school, local school, leafy, lovely, over-subscribed, outstanding primary, and he didn't laugh as much, got much more serious, still a lovely boy, but some of the spark had gone.
I wish I had the resources to home-ed, but although I considered it, was not an option. At 10 he moved to the prep of a leading independent school and the spark came back. In retrospect we should have moved him at 7, but that's the benefit of hindsight grin

skewiff Sat 29-Sep-12 08:30:52

Yes, Mrs Salvo - I see that spark go and then come back in the holidays.

I hope that I have not said that schools are 'bad' or 'wrong' anywhere. I think I just said that I don't feel comfortable with the education system.

I can see that schools are fine and good for some children.

Where we live schools are so overly subscribed (ours in particular) that if I take DS out I would not be sure about getting him back in if HE failed.

Also with him having mild CP I would like him to grow gradually with children (if he is to be in school) rather than hop in and out - because I think the latter would mean that children would notice his differences more and this may lead to bullying.

Its a good idea to go in and see what the day in school entails. I have a 18 month old and that's prevented this happening so far.

Perhaps some of it is DS knowing how to push buttons and not wanting to leave the comfort of home in the mornings ...

As to choosing a different school. Well the one DS is in is supposedly the most creative and 'free' of all schools around here. We live in London and all the schools here have been enlarged to ridiculous sizes (2 primary schools are now 6 form entry) so I think if DS has to be at school this one is going to have to be the one he's at.

Thank you for all your help and advice. I didn't want to post on HE forum because I knew I'd get mostly pro HE thoughts and I want to make a balanced choice about this.

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