Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yeah, I Tried It

Yes, I tried homeschooling.

When Sierra started 4th grade, it was the first time she began a school year with teachers with whom we were totally unfamiliar. What’s more, it was a totally unfamiliar class configuration: Two teachers and around fifty students.

We were familiar with the other two 4th grade teachers. One was our oldest’s teacher and we definitely wanted to go in a different direction. The other was my neighbor’s son’s teacher and although they grew to like her and her methods, it didn’t feel like a good fit for Sierra. This was the last option so we weren’t disappointed when she was assigned this duo.

The class was actually two classrooms with an accordion curtain between them left open. Student desks were on one side and the teacher’s desks and other work areas were on the other side. When I first saw this massive sea of desks I have to admit I was a little shocked. Still, forward we went.

From the beginning it was a disaster for my girl. She’d only ever been A Pleasure To Have In Class and yet suddenly she was lost and unable to focus. The teachers had nothing positive to say about her. I wasn’t exactly sure what I should do but after speaking to another mom with a son in the same class, I decided to check out the route they were taking: online public school.

It’s essentially homeschooling with a teacher you keep in touch with, send certain assignments off to, things like that. This was the K12 program and I loved the curriculum. Sierra especially enjoyed the Science and History and it was fun learning alongside her. But hey, if it was such a love fest we’d probably still be doing it, right? Probably. I don’t know.

I think a few things soured me on homeschooling. To begin with, we don’t have a dedicated piece of real estate in this house where we could focus on learning, keep school supplies, and shut the door at the end of the day. We had stuff all over the place all the time and it made me insane (insaner?). Next, I was getting so little done aside from this. I had two little boys who needed attention and wanted very much to get into her school things. They ended up watching way too much PBS Kids during that year. Finally, after four years in public school, she had totally lost the ability to look at me as a teacher. She questioned everything I said. That part burned me up because I have been a teacher. I have the education. I have beyond the education.

So anyway we did it for a year then sent her off to the same private school Michael Jr. was attending. She was so much happier there. Still though, I see friends who homeschool well and I’m jealous. They have the time freedom, not being constrained by the public school schedule and they seem to have it all together. They won’t look back and think they didn’t spend enough time with their kids while they were young. Diane and Deena, I’m talking about YOU! You make it look easy and I’m pretty darned sure it’s nothing of the kind.

On Monday I’ll be registering both Michael Jr. and Sierra for 8th and 6th grade at Chief Jo Middle School. We’ve decided that private school is just beyond our means and like I said, homeschooling isn’t going to happen. I wonder how they’ll fare. They’re both pretty strong-willed kids who aren’t easily swayed by peers. Kids who don’t follow the crowd. But it’s middle school, you know? It’s hard not to be a little freaked out.
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6 comments:

  1. The kids will do GREAT! Of course I only know Sierra on a personal level, but I know she will find a spot that is just 'her' and she will continue to be a pleasure to have in class--just like she was in mine! Being as I am just dipping my toes in the water as a parent with kids in school, who knows what my future will hold! I too am 'freaked out' but for different reasons...thank goodness Kidergarten comes LONG before middle school!

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  2. Yes, Anonymous, thank goodness;)! Oh and I'll be out of town the 19th-25th but let's get together after that!

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  3. I was homeschooled from 8th-12th grade & my brother was homeschooled right alongside me from 6th grade thru graduation. I always said "If I have kids, I'll homeschool!!" Then, I had kids. I guard my personal time WAY too much. I just couldn't do it. I did have those feelings of guilt creep in for a bit. I decided if I hommeschooled I'd be miserable---THE GIRLS would be miserable---because it would something forced.
    Homeschooling....it's not for EVERYone.

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  4. Oh man. My grammar & spelling in those last 2 sentences are NOT a good billboard for homeschooling. haha!

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  5. We were right there with you that lovely 4th grade year, and I was nuts enough to put Geoff back in for 5th. Oh the damage they caused to his psyche. He is enrolled at Chief Joe for 6th, but I'm pulling him out the last hour of the day for math. He just can't do math in a group or with any outside interuption. Luckily he is fairly cooperative with me and we loved the K12 materials... I think he may still be at the level he was then though.
    With Spencer starting 4th this year I was a bit worried but thankfully his 3rd grade teacher will be moving up with him!

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  6. As a teacher of a public school... I can't see homeschooling or putting my child in a private school. I guess I just hear the bad stories.

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So, what do you think?