It is an experiment in the making. I don't know how it is going to go. What I do know is I love my kids and I see their spirit, spontaneity, creativity, and spunk being squished out of them each year. There is very little room for those attributes in the current school system. These are not things measured on standardized tests, so the teachers are not given the time to cultivate these gifts. And they are gifts.
We are not lacking for smart people in the world. We crank them out. What we are lacking is creative people. People who can think for themselves. People who can make a leap and do things differently. There have been many articles, interviews on NPR, and shows concerning this topic in recent months.
The school systems have gotten so bogged down in accountability that they are scared to death not to test the crap out of the kids. News flash: the kids don't give a crap about the tests. They know it has no effect on them. Many do not even bother to do anything but make designs with the dot. There are obviously those that try. My point is it is not a good measure of what kids do or do not know.
Should teachers be accountable? Hell yes. Are tests the way to do that? I don't think so. However, I can't offer an alternative at the moment. I do know I am ready to move beyond what is on the test and not look back. I will teach my kids what they need to know and even more importantly, what they want to know. They will be wonderful, smart, caring, well rounded and socialized individuals. We will be able to look on these years and say we did it together.
teachers are fighting the good fight. They are working their asses off and do what they can. The parameters they have to work within are shrinking by the year. Arts, music, physical education, and elective classes are being cut. We are loosing kids. It's not the teachers, it is the system.
On to our decision:
This decision has been a long time in the making and now it is done. Since Kalyn started kindergarten, seven years ago, each and every year I would start debating about not sending her to school the following year right after Spring break. That's when things would take a drastic turn for the worse.
I started asking about homeschooling and reading about the pros and cons years ago. I always felt it would be a good fit, but didn't know how people would react. I have gotten over that.
I also hesitated because Kalyn was such a challenge I didn't know if I could help her in the way her teachers did. She would do fine at school and then fall apart at home.
Socialization comes up all the time as a reason to keep kids in school as well as the standardized curriculum the public school can provide.
I was afraid to be lumped with crazy zealots who pull their kids from school to protect them from the immorality and crack whores (I think that's what the zealots do).
Could I have my kids at home all day, everyday and keep them engaged, prepared and not fighting?
All these things and so much more have been keeping me from taking the leap.
Well, I leapt.
I started realizing that perhaps my child would not need to be in therapy if she felt successful and not threatened throughout the day. Perhaps my younger one's day would start if I didn't have to wake her up at 6:30am, calm her from her tantrum of not being awake, not wanting to go to school and being pissed she had to leave and go somewhere she did not want to be. Maybe I know my kids better than anyone else.
Kalyn is a challenge, but that can be good. She questions things, does not take anything at face value and has a staunch code of justice and equality. Isn't thins something that should be nurtured? I don't think it can be in the schools. Not in 45 min. per class period. Not when teachers have to get through teaching 100 kids per day in a systematic way so that the scores on the tests prove they are doing a good job. I feel she was falling apart at home because there were so many feeling that there was no time to express that once she got home she just burst. Jules tends to do this preemptively in the morning.
My kids are very social beings. They are not going to all of a sudden become anti-social. I am not locking them in a box, I am educating them. Part of education is learning to live in the world. What makes a better practice of those skills: 1) being able to go out in the world on field trips, banking, shopping, visiting with people of all ages (including peers), hearing differing viewpoints all within the school day or 2) Hanging out with peers, talking with peers, getting advice from peers, playing with peers, learning with peers, doing things that only your peers do? I think this is such a narrow scope to work in. Have you noticed how narrow teens viewpoints are? Could it be because they have no other point of reference aside from this peer group who is not always equipped to give the most sound advice?
People who homeschool are not crazy zealots. (OK some may be, but there are crazies in all groups). I have spoken to several people who homeschool. Some do it for religious reasons (how is this different from the Catholic school behind me), some do it to increase academic rigor (same as sending the kids to a pricey prep school), and some do it because they love their kids and want to be with them and share in the growth and learning that happens at this time in life. Most do it for a combination of these reasons. All families run things a little differently.
As far as my abilities, why should I question them? I have taught over the last 16 years. I have had kids from pre-school through college aged in my classes. I have taught grade level through learning self-help and daily care skills. I have had up to 12 in a class with 4 different versions of a lesson plan going on. In Nevada I averaged writing 20 lessons per day when you counted the 5 different classes I taught and all the different versions of the lessons I had to write to accommodate for all of the ability levels.
So, we start Monday. I'm excited. I am busily getting our space together, getting lessons mapped out and getting our schedules straightened out.
Here's to everything! Cheers.