Friday, May 29, 2009

What Happened? Why Homeschooling?

Granted many families know from the get-go that they want to homeschool. This was not the case for us. Jeff had mentioned the possibility of it to me years ago, but I quickly turned it down. I loved school and have fond memories of it; I wanted my kids to have same.


Our oldest son, Will (age 6 1/2) just completed his first year of kindergarten in a public school and the year was much less than what I had hoped it would be. Although it started out well, his original(and wonderful) teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer right before Thanksgiving and she had to take a leave of absence for her treatments. The class went through three different substitutes; the last one was a (newly) certified teacher and she was hired for the remainder of the school year.

With each substitute came transition periods, different teaching styles, and just plain havoc on the much needed structure of a 5-6 year old's day. There were days Will didn't want to go to school... and I didn't want to send him... and sometimes I didn't. We had "family vacation days" where we just de-stressed together.

The teacher that remained was new to teaching, had done her studies with 3rd graders, and had no children of her own. Now, you certainly don't have to have children of your own to be a good teacher, but it does give you a different perspective. I know I am a completely different person now that I have kids. (If I had been thrown in a room with 14 kindergartners before I had children... that would have been rough on me, too.)

Without the knowledge of how kids behave at this age, Will (and the other students) were getting in trouble for normal 5-6 year old behavior. There was very little positive feedback for the kids and only a handful were going to the "treasure box". Kindergarten is supposed to be fun! It is supposed to set a good foundation for years to come! It is supposed to fill a child's brain and heart with positive memories! It just wasn't doing any of those things as far as I could tell.

So in the middle of this crazy year, Jeff and I seriously considered removing Will and homeschooling for the rest of the year. Before deciding, Jeff and I met with the principal and the teacher individually. After the meetings, I explained to Will what homeschooling is and just tried to "feel him out" for his thoughts on the subject.


However, at the time there was the possibility of the original teacher returning in April so we decided to stick it out in hopes of a ending the year on a positive note. Remaining in school would also allow Will the opportunity to take the Metropolitan Readiness Test easily, of which he scored 98% out of 99% and was later invited to the gifted school for 1st and 2nd graders! Go, Will! :)

As the year progressed, it was obvious that things were not really improving. The teacher would threaten to take things away when she got mad: snack time, parent-student kite day, rest time... anything the kids looked forward to. Too bad for her they were always things she couldn't really take away. Empty threats. (Apparently she even threatened to take away the end of the year party and Will thought she had because he told me the night before that that there would be no party. So sad. He was so disappointed. I told him not to worry about it... there WOULD be a party!) UGH. Just makes me mad. Will also mentioned that she can be as "mad as a wizard sometimes". Not really what you want to hear your child say about the person they are spending a good chunk of their day with.

Well, his original teacher was not able to return in April and by then there were only two months left in the school year, which meant field day, the kindergarten play, parties, and more fun (hopefully).

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, homeschooling became a choice and not a necessity (which will be a different post). I think that was a very important step for us that has set a better foundation for the year(s) to come. As part of our choice, we decided to give him a "natural" end to the school year instead of an abrupt removal.

Was that the best choice? Would I do that again? Honestly, I really don't know, BUT... kindergarten is behind us, we have summer to look forward to, as well as what is sure to be an unforgettable 1st grade! :)

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