Oh my, this is just so hard to deal with. :( She has somehow been convinced by various things people have said to her lately that the reason I won't put her in school is that she's too stupid. She told me that all of her friends are clever enough to go, and asked me why I don't think she's ready.
The problem is, I don't think any of them are ready. I think the school system expects rote learning and unconnected skill-learning long before such things have anything to do with the real lives, actual needs, and genuine wishes of almost any child. OK those things are going to be actively destructive to a minority in my opinion, but helpful to none! These kids are three, four, five. I don't want to get carried away with what's wrong with school because there's no way I think it's all wrong or that less-than-perfect isn't necessary for some families. I just, at a basic level, see school as at best neutral for these tinies, and at worst discouraging and harmful to their own ways of exploring things.
That's not easy philosophy to break down for a small sobbing child.
And I can't say all that anyway, even if for no other reason than that she has to rub along with schooled children from time to time (and therefore would realise that they don't all actively hate it or wouldn't say so because they want to fit in and please parents - and would also probably offend those same parents by quoting me at my most frustrated).
She may go to school at some point, she may remain unschooled, she may choose to engage with some form of part time or group schooling, or be involved in private schools that we know where she would have more control over hours and subjects. She's FOUR! Where's the rush? My priorities for her are just totally nothing to do with number recognition and phonetics and other hoop-jumping exercises for children who aren't actually even showing reading readiness half of the time.
Asides from which, she's reading a lot of words already and recognising common letter groupings, she knows lots of numbers and guesses at bigger ones (eleventy-four was a recent guess for 104). She uses those wonderful logical guesses in her speech, and regularly uses words like "blurred" and "visible" and "inappropriate" (which I can't spell reliably). She can assemble a symetrical mandala pattern and play board games and tile games meant for age 7+. Asking her to sit and recite "ah ah ah ant" with matching sign is just downright bloody patronising.
I didn't say any of that.
So I just validated that she is feeling discouraged and like I don't trust her, and that she is sad not to be like everyone else (another big thing that came up, and I have no idea how to deal with).
Then I told her that I believe she is smart enough to learn anything she will ever need to learn, when she really wants to learn it for her own reasons, and that nobody has a right to tell her what she ought to know and when. And nobody who will think less of her for not learning what and when other people do. I told her that she alone is Jenna, and she will never ever be a failure to me. And then I just held her while she sobbed.