Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Withdrawal was the day that we withdrew our little bumpkin from public school. She was as happy as a lark and deep down inside, I had complete and total peace. I don't know how to describe the feeling but I felt that I was certain that this is what we're supposed to do. In my mind it is the very best option.  I mean if you had an enormously large scale and you placed public school on one side and home school on the other, in my house and heart, the advantages of home school totally outweigh the advantages of public school.

When I share the information with my friends, they gasp at some things that we experienced while in the system. However, while going through those things, we didn't respond the way that our friends say they would have or that they say we should have. That doesn't make me feel bad though. Actually it confirms with me that we were willing to be compliant and tried to believe the best  and to work with the public school system. Be all of that as it may, I called the school, gave notice of our decision to withdraw, picked up the withdrawal form and filed my declaration of intent with the Superintendent's office. So that's that and we proceeded to have our first day of school at home. My daughter jumped up and down when I informed her that we were starting now rather then later and her elation was enough to let me know that I'd done the best thing.

Our official curriculum has not arrived yet so we are starting with some 1st grade work that I purchased at the beginning of the summer and that she has been working from since. It covers math, reading comprehension, language arts, analog time, counting money and much more. Just the other day, we learned what compound words are and how to identify them. Such a rewarding feeling to explain a concept to my own child and watch her "get it."

This transition though has been bitter-sweet. I thought about Madison's school friends before I made this decision and what not seeing her at school everyday would be like for them. Of course I thought about Madison too, but figured that her being with her sister and mommy everyday would make up for any friendships she might initially miss and I was right. But these little kids with their precious little hearts cried when the teacher told them that Madison would not be coming back to class.. That was hard to hear. The parent that I served as Room Parent with emailed me and told me the reaction from her classmates and the fact that her own son said "I so miss her." That's hard to hear and my husband really "felt" for the kids and was sorry that they took it so hard, But these are the hard decisions that have to be made.

*What about you? What are some of the things that you feel will make it hard for you to take the leap to withdraw your kid(s) from public school. If you already have what was your experience?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Deciding to Home School - Part II

So where were we...oh yeah, the scoring system! Was I being a little anal? Maybe, since I was already kind of convinced that public school was not for us and perhaps not in the best shape right now considering the current climate in our government, our government's involvement in education, the violence that had happened in the 3-4 years prior to Madison becoming school-age, the moral decline in our society, the budget cuts and teacher layoffs that were happening all over GA leading up to the 2011-2012 school year and really, the list goes on an on.

Wow! This is therapeutic!

It's really helping me to organize my thoughts regarding why I'm making the decision that I'm making. As I said in the post before this one, we'd always and already determined that we would educate our children at home before day 1 of public education but still after a few months in the system it was difficult to say "hey, we are pulling the plug." It seemed so definitive and life changing for her and us. It was not something that we could enter into half-heartedly (although we'd already thought, talked and prayed about it). It still needed more thoughtful consideration in "my" mind. 

After or actually during the scoring issue were other little issues popping up. There was an incident on the bus with her and a little boy. Thankfully I'd drilled her on how to speak up for herself in this area. Nevertheless, I had to talk with the bus driver about it. Then came a hint of bullying...FROM A 5 YEAR OLD!!! A little girl in my child's class, on the playground one day, said to her "I'm going to beat you up when you become a teenager."  I know there is no chance of that ever happening but she's a 5 year old talking like this!!! And there is so much talk about bullying going on in schools today maybe we are all a little hyper-sensitive. I wasn't really shocked because I know how kids talk and I know that kids of all ages and can and are exposed to all sorts of ideas and situations that shape the way the behave but there I was again, having to talk to the teacher about something else. Which, I wouldn't have brought it up except this was the 3rd time something had come up with this little girl and my kid. While talking to a friend one night, I realized, "hey, I don't want the next 12 years of my life to be about running to the school to "talk" with an official about something that's going on with my kid!" I mean, I felt like the precedent had been set. Was this what being a concerned parent in the public school system is all about? Putting out little fires so that they don't grow.

Madison and her BF from Pre-School at Poetry Recitation

Now granted, we had good experiences also. Madison participated in the school poetry recitation contest and ended up representing her school at the county level and ran into her best friend from pre-school while there. That was fun, she won second place out of about 16-20 kids. That was fun and we have some great memories from it.

All in all, at the end of the day, I think I am just too interested in my child, her education and her future to just turn her over everyday to a group of people who don't have her best interest at heart (it is impossible for them to). Alot of teachers are just trying to meet the status quo these days. There is so much paperwork and added stress from our government that their hands are pretty much tied when it comes to teaching and reaching the children and we just want more.

At the end of the day, I believe that I can do a better job with my own children than any teacher ever could. I mean, I know that Madison can do anything that she puts her mind to but needs to be pushed kind of hard to put forth her best effort in something that she may not be interested in. I know that although she has a love for learning, she gets bored with repetition but excited with new information and about acquiring new skills. I understand that Chelsea is not all that confident with what she knows until she gets a couple of answers right and a little bit of praise. I know that she does not learn well in a formal, sit down setting but that she picks up more information in passing than she ever would sitting at a table for 30 minutes to an hour. It's just not her thing. So through homeschooling I can tailor their education to fit their personalities. I can train them for their "individual" futures. Should a gift or talent or strong desire arise in them, we can feed those things while teaching them the necessary skills for life and college and the work force. It makes sense to us.

Gosh, there is so much more to say about deciding to home school...until next time!


*Do you find the concerns about public school valid? Why or why not? I'd like to hear what other parents with school-aged children think about the state of our public school system.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Decision to Homeschool - Is It For You?

photo courtesy of Google Images
Deciding to home school for my family was an easy decision and a hard one. How is that so, you ask? Well, let me tell you. When our children were born, my husband and I had a very long conversation about the method of education that we would use. At the top of that list was home schooling.

When our oldest became school age, we did what most first-timers who are considering alternative methods of education do. We told everyone we knew that we were planning or at least contemplating home schooling Madison. If you have done that then you know what happened next. We were inundated with unsolicited opinions, suggestions and advice. Everyone we talked to were close friends, family or neighbors. So needless to say, they were not intending to be obnoxious...they just were. LOL

After, hearing, listening and considering, we decided to enroll her in the cutest little Primary school that I'd ever seen. The halls were shiny and clean. The school SMELLED spotless. There were bright posters and encouraging banners all of the place. The halls were colored coded so that little ones could find their "pod." Oh yes, each grade level had a "pod." The place where all of that grade's classrooms were located. The classrooms were not next door to each other on either side of the hallways. No! After you walked down the hall you entered the "pod." Where only that grade level's classes were; going around the walls in sort of a circle (if you can imagine that). So when a class exited a classroom you were in a kind of "lobby" area for your grade level, in our case, kindergarten. It was cozy in there. Now what truly tilted the scale was the little coy pond in the main lobby of the school just outside of the office with real, live gold fish, clown fish and an albino frog! What parent would NOT send their bright eyed, kindergartener to this school? They had us (not that they were out to get us). Especially since I'd checked on a Christian private school in our area that was drab and under-funded nor was the staff very nice.

So how is it that we ended up here before the school year is even out? It's long story. One I will have to tell in its entirety over a couple of posts. Just suffice it to say that public school was everything we'd heard it has become. Teachers couldn't really "teach" your kid, no matter how badly they wanted to. Every child is expected to fit into the same mold. The system is cookie-cutter and if your child doesn't fit into that mold, it is his or her fault. It is not the responsibility of the teacher to use her "teaching ability" to "reach" your child.'s her responsibility to label your child and begin a process of paperwork that will follow your child for the next 12 years.
photo courtesy of Google Images

Now, I don't mean to be negative. I loved our child's teacher. She was very sweet and very tough. She was a stickler for discipline which I LOVED! I mean if you have a room of 21 kids, you need to have some control over the classroom and she did. I LOVED it! And she loved our child. Here's the thing though, or at least one of the things. Madison entered kindergarten as a fluent reader. She'd also mastered simple math like adding, subtracting and greater than and less than. However at the end of the first term, she'd been scored as only meets the grade level standards.  Now the last time I checked, kindergarten standards were simply that the child be able to read by the end of the year. So in my mind, Madison should have scored as exceeds the grade level standards. After speaking with her teacher, I was willing to let it go, for the love of all things sane, it is only kindergarten. Right?  Or is it a system of scoring that will determine how high or how fast your child is allowed to go based on the rest of the class. By the second term she scored exceeds standards in all things Language Arts related and scored meets standards in all things math. While that is wonderful, it is not her fault and she should not be made to go along for 9 weeks in the system until it is time for the class to cover where she was already ready to go. And she was not the only kid in this boat.

It's unfortunate as I would honestly love to keep her in public school for the clubs and plays and functions but not at the expense of her potential to go as far as she absolutely can academically. I am just not willing to stand-by while her love for learning dwindles. She'd expressed early on in the school year that she was bored and didn't like it but in the spirit of "good parenting" we were all for her adjusting and sticking it out until it got better. It did, but only barely.

To Be Continued...


*If you find yourself at the door of decision about homeschooling, let me know. What's your biggest  concern?

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