Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our School Year: Take 2

We've had a big shift in our schooling scenario, so I should probably bring you all up to speed on what's going on here in the mire.

The day has finally come that I NEVER thought I would see (and frankly, hoped not to see).  All of my children (Ivy excepted) are in public school.  It makes me both sick and excited at the same time.

First, Violet is in the same preschool she has been in all year - no change there.  It is the local school district preschool, meets once a week, and is very fun and low key and play-based.  She enjoys going and I like her teachers - two thumbs up.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Next, Henry has been withdrawn from our local school and has been enrolled in a free public virtual school.  I didn't really like Henry's kindergarten class from day 1, but at first he was having a good time and so that was good enough for me.  At five years old, I'm not too concerned about academics, I just want him to have fun learning.  But as the year went on, the newness wore off, and the schoolwork was continually not very challenging, Henry began to loathe going.  And as a person who never liked the school to begin with, I had a very hard time forcing him to go.  I can put the smack down and be firm with my kids when it is something I believe in, but forcing him to go to a boring school every day just for the sake of attendance really rubbed me the wrong way.  So I let him stay home.  Often.  That was kind of our compromise.  He didn't have to go every day, but he did have to go fairly regularly.  It worked for us until January when the principal threatened to turn me in for educational neglect.  I just cracked up over that one!  He had finished the end of the year objectives a couple of months into the school year and wasn't learning anything new most days and I'M the one who is neglecting his education?  She informed me that he had missed approximately 40% of the school days so far and she was concerned that it was detrimental to his education.  I informed HER that if he can miss 40% of the classes and still master all of the work then there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with how they are running that class.  And I withdrew him.

My hubby is pretty pro-public-school so my compromise with him was that I enrolled Henry in an online virtual public school.

I have heard from many homeschoolers that they really don't like the virtual schools because they aren't very flexible and many people just end up dropping out and homeschooling instead.  Fair enough.  But for us, I think it is the right choice for the rest of this year.  It keeps peace between me and hubby, makes my homeschooling job easier since the lessons are all planned out for me and the supplies are provided, and Henry will be able to work through the coursework as fast as he likes.  No waiting for the rest of the class to "get it" before moving on.  So for now, I think it will work - I'll keep you updated on that one.

Lastly, Mitchell is enrolled in a big fat brick-and-mortar public school (NOT the same school we took Henry out of).  Complete with bells, cafeteria, desks, and a crabby school secretary.  That is a decision I was very torn over.  In a lot of ways, it felt like giving up on him.  I feel like I could have kept homeschooling him, and we could have been successful academically, but the cost to our family dynamic and our relationship troubled me.  In the end we decided to give it a try and just see how it went.  He's been there for two weeks now and so far so good.  The teacher and principal both have been very responsive and seem to be more than willing to try to make the experience a good one for him.  It is a special school-within-a-school program so it has more of the small school feel that we are used to from our former private school.  They also incorporate skill groups and multi-age classrooms to both make sure that kids are getting work at their particular skill level and also to develop a sense of community among all the classes.   For him particularly I also think that the structure will be good.  It is something that is highly recommended for kids with ADHD and something I have absolutely no talent for. I feel like this is something I can live with, at least for now, and it seems like Mitchell can too.

I have no idea where any of the kids will be for school come September, but it feels good to be in a place where it seems like everyone fits.

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