*Note I began this blog post a few weeks ago and have since had life take over a bit, so I am now getting to finish it.
Here most of us are at the beginning of a new school year- whether your children attend public school, private, or you home learn. Mine all are varying parts of the new year.
A run down:
The youngers started about a month a go.(Their new school runs on an 11 month calender.)
The eldest girl started PSEO (post secondary enrollment options- free college classes for high school students where they earn college and high school credits) 2 weeks ago. Her one online class through her "school" started this Monday.
The eldest boy and I attended his new student orientation last night and he starts next Tuesday.
And middle girl started her 1st year of online school also on Monday.
So how's it going? Hopes for this year?
I'm pleased with O and B's school, but did get the impression that they'd be able to better handle their advanced learning styles and have found this to be a bit lacking. O's teacher is defiantly working well and hard with him on his behavioral and emotional issues but his "homework" (disclaimer: I don't believe in homework for young children at all- there has been plenty of research showing it doesn't benefit them educationally-wise proving this and the fact he's in Kindergarten really throws up red flags for me!) is basically the same things he did in Hi-5 (preschool) last year. O has been reading since June and I see no progress in this area- yes it's my responsibility as his parent to make sure the school is meeting his needs and I am soon to address this with his teacher. I don't want my children to feel pressure but I don't want them to get bored and loose interest in school and their love of learning! It is something I addressed at the beginning of the school year with the staff (0n behalf of both of my children) and was reassured they'd be put at levels that would fit them. This just hasn't been the case with either.
B is enjoying the small class size and all the new friends she's making (I also see a lot of growth in her in it comes to compassion for others- as she, on a daily, basis interacts with "special needs" children. And she's growing to see others as different but equal. Something others thought may not be a necessary thing for a "normal" child but something I value and love about that school!) And with her there has also been some red flags that have popped up, and again it all revolves around the actual work. The second day she had homework, she completed it on the bus and has since done so everyday. It's very hard as a parent to keep up with her work when you don't even see it! But I was and have been able to see it and really it concerns me- this is the same work she was doing in the 1st grade~ addition and subtraction. Compared to last year, where at the end of the year she was working on multiplication, division, decimals and place values. This is a huge step backward. I asked her to tell her teacher the work was too easy and the teachers response was "your mom has to call and tell me that". I honestly find this a bit offensive, for 2 reasons: 1) It shows how well she listens to her students and 2)she does not remember our conversation at the beginning of the year where I told her where B was grade level wise. I know I should be a bit more compassionate- in a normal school room remembering what every parent said at the start of school can be hard especially when you have 30 students but she only has 11 in all of the class. I will be putting a call into the school next week, as I was promised that they'd meet her needs and would place her in a higher grade level for math if she was unable to get her needs met in her current classroom. So on to the next step.
R! as I stated above she started her PSEO classes 2 weeks ago and she's learning the ins and outs of life as a college student. Like make sure you schedule your classes closer together so you don't have to spend all day (8am to 6pm) at school for 3 1.5 hr classes. And make sure you know if a class is held off campus before the first day! Professors can act on a whim and close an assignment early just because she felt everyone had had enough time to finish. But she's doing well and enjoying it. Her one online class (through her online school) started this Monday. It's a basic math class- Consumer Math, because she needed to make up the credit in math and it's her weakest subject. But she's doing really well, so far an A. She's on track for credits to graduate on time but here in our lovely State high schoolers have to take and pass all the grades standardized tests to receive her diploma- she failed the 11th grade math one last year and now will have to retake it. An added stress and worry for someone so young and already trying so hard- her whole life is based on one test, that before the "No Child Left Behind Act" did not exist. Her chosen life path is not one that includes math but it does include a high school diploma!
T- We've hard a really hard time finding the right fit for T and schools. Last year's looked promising but with the first few months of school we were hit with how financially they (the school) was struggling and the threat of having to close within a week. And that wasn't the only time that year we heard that. Most of the contact, from the school, wasn't about how my student was doing or happenings at the school but asking for donations and fundraising events. (These "requests" weren't made in a very nice voice either and made those that were struggling financially themselves feel guilty about not helping.) So ultimately we decided the focus of the school led very far away from actual teaching and our childrens well being and would not/was not were we wanted them to be (P was also enrolled here). So I searched for other options. We did know that T could/would be lost in a mainstream public high school. This search led me to find a Waldorf inspired charter school (it originally was a private school, back in 1993 but switched to a charter school in 2001).
T and I attended his new student orientation and it looks promising. I'm trying to not get my expectations too high, as I did this with the last and that didn't turn out well either. But so far so good. His classes include ones like "Comedy and Tragedy", "Evolution and Genetics" and "Mosaics". After winter break they have what is called "J term" were for 11 days the have more elective type classes but way not what would be considered "normal"- "Winter Survival Training" and "Quilt Making" are a few previous offerings. T's happy they offer Japanese. And they can't to paint their own lockers! HOW COOL IS THAT!
P is attending an online school this year, from home. And I am her "learning coach"- but a lot of the time I feel like a warden and the main teacher. I like the curriculum for the most part, some is a bit dry and some is just so tedious and seemingly unimportant but we don't have a choice over it so we muddle on. We're having some issues with procrastination and motivation, and with letting mom lead the day (she seems to think I'm trying to make her do more than what is required, or that she can coast thru- which she probably could some but in 6th grade this is really where you learn how to manage yourself and get ready for the hard learning that comes with high school. At first I thought she was just not understanding, that the work was too hard- but her state standardized test scores (which we received last week- for spring of last year- really show she has no issue with comprehension while reading. Just the opposite actually- she can understand everything! Math I will give a little on- those were much less than stellar and down from previous years results.) really helped me to understand that the work is not to hard and that I am not going about this the wrong way- she is trying a bit to assert her independence and find how much or little she has to apply herself. I also believe we have to find a new balance in our relationship. For so many years she went away to school during the day- defining my role as a parent and not a teacher. Teachers are at school and that's where you learn. Now that she's home, I have to get back that role (I had it when she was younger, and I still have it when it comes to the youngers but the older children get and the longer they go away to school the less this role means from a parent.) and doing this is not a easy task. I'm looking for ways to bring back her love of learning (yes, she says she's lost it) and finding interests for her (other than just online games and tv).
My DH wanted me to put her back into public school, and I fully agreed with him, the constant fighting with her was causing me personally too much stress, but when I called the school district the only spot left was in a way less than desirable school (one T had attended in middle school) with horrid test scores and I just couldn't do it. So I resolved to keep trying (she can always start later if need be) and it's been better- no where near perfect, and mostly on my end- being better able set limits and let some of the control go- and not sit down and always have to do it w/her. She is completely capable of doing it and asking for help on the ones she really needs help with. So we'll see.
So schools coming along for everyone and nothings prefect. But we're making it.