Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Our Schooling Journey--Part 1

Early on in our parenting journey, I remember telling Hubby that there was no way I would ever homeschool my children.  They would be going to school and that's final.  Famous last words.  When it came time for David to start school, I was very hesitant to have him start on time due to his October birthday and Michigan's December 1 cutoff date.  Plus, he was a premie.  I read books on waiting an extra year before kindergarten, received a lot of advice, and we ended up having David do a year called Young 5s, a program designed specifically for children who age wise are ready for kindergarten but could use an extra year for various reasons.  

David had a great year in Young 5s so we had no problem enrolling him again for kindergarten.  One month into his kindergarten year, we knew that it wasn't going to work for him.  David was just too far ahead of the rest of his class and needed a grade skip.  The school wouldn't even consider such a step, so our only choice was to pull him out, homeschool him for a few years, and then put him back into school a grade ahead.  He did two years of homeschooling before we decided it was time to give school a try again.  We signed him, along with Lizzy (first grade), up for third grade this fall, and I had serious concerns that he wouldn't be up to par with the other third graders because of the grade skip.  While I did my best at homeschooling him, does a parent ever really know how well their child stacks up against their public school peers?  

Because David was out of the school system for 2 years, he had to take placement tests to see where he was at.  Imagine my shock/surprise when he tested extremely well with scores justifying another grade skip...or two.  But I was pretty dead set against putting my little 7 year old into a classroom full of 9-11 year olds, so we left him in third grade.  A month into the school year, again, it was pretty clear that school was not going to work for David.  My very gifted child was suddenly freaking out that he would never be good enough, wouldn't do well in school, wouldn't be successful.  He was bored, he was unchallenged, he was in a classroom full of rowdy boys (an all boys classroom) which he had a very hard time with due to his strong drive to follow the rules.  He had things stolen from him and the teacher did nothing about it.  We stuck it out until Christmas break, but it was a daily struggle.  He also experienced some personality changes that were a little less than desirable.  Over Christmas break, Hubby told me to buy what I needed to homeschool starting after break.  

Even though I had successfully homeschooled for two years, I was still a bit fearful that I would mess up my kids, wouldn't be up to the challenge, that my kids would be miserable and socially awkward.  Yet I forged ahead knowing that this was the right thing for our family.  I cannot even begin to express what a change it has been in our house since the day Hubby agreed we should pull the kids out.  My through-the-roof stress level instantly returned to normal.  My very unhappy children were suddenly cheerful and happy.  I no longer hear Lizzy whining that school is boring and that she hates it.  I no longer hear David freak out over being good enough.  Instead of waking up with dread and wanting to crawl back under the covers, I wake up happy and thankful, ready to face the day.  Maybe I had to walk through the storm so I could see just how good it is on the other side.  To cement in my heart that this former anti-homeschooler is now a pro-homeschooler.  Or maybe it was all just a way for me to have a really good threat to hang over my kids when they complain about homeschooling taking too long--do you remember what it was like to have to go to school for 7 1/2 hours every day???  That's what I thought!

The best part of homeschooling is that on a really gorgeous March day, instead of being stuck in a classroom, my kids can be outside enjoying moments like this.

The girls put together their own picnic
And rather than having to sit at their desks for reading, they can find a nice comfy spot instead:

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