Saturday, June 27, 2009

Un-Charter-ed Territory

Since enrolling our first child, our local school has been a major problem. I've written about this before, when my daughter was in Kindergarten. After witnessing how my son has fared, we're coming to the conclusion that the overall school policy is the largely the problem. With my youngest entering school in the fall, we're simply not comfortable sending her, or my older children, there in the fall. That being said, we're exploring our options.

I've never seriously considered homeschooling before. I believe children can benefit from being in the school setting, from gaining independence, peer-to-peer relations, experiencing diversity and benefit from the wide range of expertise of specialized teachers in music and art. There are many wonderful teachers and school districts in public systems. Unfortunately, due to the lack of structure and lack of real consequences for poor behavior my children are not performing to their full potential.

I have to admit that I was really looking forward to this September. After almost 9 years, all my children would have boarded the bus. For once I could complete household tasks without constant interruption, or could run an errand without being asked if we can stop at McDonald's. I could go to the Dentist without worrying that my children are running amuck in the office, and complete grocery shopping in record time. At home Nickelodeon wouldn't be blaring in my ears anymore, and I could think for more than a minute or so without being asked for a drink, snack, or asked yet another question.


Yes, the BUT. The BUT that knows it would be another year of heartache, watching my kids slip into apathy about education rather than be excited about it. The BUT that knows by the time I'm notified of an issue at school, a month of misbehavior would have gone by that my children have lied to me about every day they got off the bus. The BUT that knows my son would be busy creating his own entertainment in class because he's just that damn bored. The BUT that knows my daughter would be reading the book hidden in her lap instead of paying attention. Early elementary school is supposed to be fun and exciting, and instead they are bored stiff and lost in the pond of other kids. Yes, POND. This is a TINY school, you'd think that would be to their benefit, right? I have no problems being involved with their education, and will lend my support to teachers...all of which have been informed of that early on. My concentration in college was education, so it's not like I don't understand the process. Instead the teachers seem to want to kick me out of it. I'm supposed to be their puppet that solves their problems the way THEY want it solved, instead of letting me be the parent of my own child.


We have been looking into cyber-schooling, which is essentially homeschooling on steroids. It would be through the public school system (statewide), with flexible options tailored to meet the learning needs of the child. For example, since my son is a fast learner, he can be in a self-paced program which allows him to move ahead, thereby alleviating the boredom. My daughter would be in a virtual classroom taught by a state-certified teacher in an interactive format. There would be additional work for her to complete as well. Best of all, you are in continual contact with teachers and are assigned a Instructional Specialist with whom you are required to have a conference with on a bi-weekly basis. If you need them more often they are available. I like that the child's progress is monitored continually this way, so I can fix it or help.

Technology is only partially used to teach and reinforce lessons, so there is still a massive parental effort involved. The program provides the framework and support of certified professionals rather than leave you out there in no man's land. The lesson plans are clear and all materials are sent to you. Yes, I do think about how the plans I had would be brushed aside. But I'd rather put in the effort now for their future than send them back to the school where they crush the spirit and wonder of my kids.


Beautiful Mess said...

UHG that sucks! Not that they have the opportunity to learn more at home, but that the public school system is so F'd. We've been very lucky that the school our children go to are great. I'm very involved and that helps a lot, as well. This might change because I think we're changing schools for our son. He'll be in first grade and I think he's going to go to a school nearer our house, rather then the one across town that has the best "grades" in the district.

I think home schooling or cyber school has benefits. Sounds like it's the right choice for your children. I hope it works out for you and them. Good luck!

Kristin said...

I hope it all works out for you. It truly sucks that its reached that stage.