Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's in my head right now...

Jacob made a statement the other day and at first it went right on by me but when I thought it over again it struck me as one of those things That We Need To Address--and it's just sort of lingered around on the outskirts of my brain just waiting to be re-visited and dealt with.

On our way home from somewhere we drove by a building and Jacob asked if that was a school. I replied, yes it was.

Is it my school?

No--unless we manage to stay here for a good while longer. Then it'll be your school.

But I want to go to school

My own experience with grade school having been so traumatic, I was curious as to why my son is so interested in school.

Well, why? What do you think happens in school?

A teacher talks.

A teacher talks

Where and how did my almost 3-year-old son come up with this concept?!

A classroom where my son is expected to sit and listen to a teacher talk would be a dismal failure of a learning program with nothing sort of disastrous results. He needs to be challenged and encouraged and given the chance to express himself. His father wasn't given any of these things and grew bored and restless--and what do bored and restless kids do? They act up and get labels slapped on them. Disruptive. Inattentive. Hyper. Lack of Impulse Control.

I had those labels as well. All because teachers just assumed I was reading and comprehending at the same level as my classmates. Not exactly an easy thing to do when I could barely read. So I was inattentive and disruptive.

I realize that I'm supposed to be thinking about my children's future and figuring out their avenues for education. But how did it sneak up so quickly? I don't even know where to begin. And did I mention that these children are still babies? Yes, Jacob's 3rd birthday is in two weeks--but he's still a baby. Can't I just allow them to be? Must we start formal education right away?

Husband and I were both, for the different reasons I already brought up, failed miserably by "traditional" education. He in public schools and I in private church schools. He is extremely biased against the local public school system. Having seen our bank statement, I realize it is unrealistic to think we can afford private school. And Virginia is not one of the states that has elected to help parents pay for alternative education with state funds. Not only that, I am really against a church school which would teach its own doctrines as part of the curriculum. I want to encourage my children to find their own answers in regards to faith and religion. I don't want them being preached to in a classroom--it's too easy to believe that that then is the only truth when there are in fact a great many truths.

Which brings us to the idea of home school. And that terrifies me to my very core. I am completely and totally unqualified to teach my children in that way--in knowledge, temperament and psyche. Yes, there are co-ops and such to help with homeschooling, but the brunt of my children's education would fall on me. Husband and I swapping roles is out of the question. Despite my resume being a mile long I have no real marketable job skills--at least none that would fetch the type of salary required for me to be the one bringing home the money and allow Husband to remain home as the care-giver and educator.

So here I am at the end of this long ramble and I'm still conflicted and confused. I want my children to be safe and learn in a loving, caring and stimulating environment--and excel to their fullest potential. Does such a place exist? Or have I once again entered my fantasy world?


Marit said...

I can imagine your worry.
From the sounds of it, you have 3 choices. Home-school, public school or a church school.
Are there no montessori schools or schools which use different kinds of curriculums? Or would that fall under the category private school?
And are all public schools more or less the same?
What about taking the time to explore different public school options in your neighborhood in the coming year? Visiting a school might make a difference in how you look at it.
Well that's my two cents worth (or maybe one cent worth!)
Ik wens je veel wijsheid toe!
(I wish you a lot of wisdom)

Melanie said...

We're struggling with that same predicament RIGHT NOW. Carter is 5 and will start Kindergarten in the fall. We live in the worst school district in the entire state of North Carolina - a little fact that didn't register, apparently, when we moved here 4 years ago. And I am not a home schooler. This, I am very clear about. Anyway, within the last month or so, "someone" volunteered to pay for a private Christian school education for all three of them from now until the end of time, and thus began the frantic hunt for a private school. After a couple of non-impressive (read = dismal and depressing) tours, we have since decided to opt out of the private school opportunity for this next school year at least. This leaves us with the local public school as our last remaining crappy option. On one hand, I'm terrified for Carter. On the other hand, I think there is something right about people who answer to a higher call keeping their kids in with the general population. Where better a spot to learn to be in the world but not of it?

Dori said...

Holy Cow, Marit! I just finished posting this--how'd you get here so fast?

Montessori school is an option--just expensive. We don't have a choice as far as which public school they go to--it's which ever we're zoned for. And we're sort of in the "low rent" district--not very attractive. But, I agree--we just need to go visit some classrooms! And you know I always value your cents!!

Marit said...

I'm haunting the internet, meanwhile hoping Tristan will finally eat his veggies!!
Just reading your post and Melanies answer makes me feel very very lucky to be living here. I had a choice of at least 5 schools, public, protestant, catholic, very strict protestant and probably montessori (if I had bothered to check it out)when we moved here. All of them free and within a mile radius. A big dutch blessing!
I wish both of you a lot of wisdom!!

Gina said...

I feel your pain and I'm having a bit of an emotional crisis here of my own on the school front but for different reasons...for further info on it, check my blog.
I've always been a strong advocate for Cody. I know I've told you that he has ADHD and he has done wonderfully without medications, but it has taken a lot of redirecting in the early years, lots of understanding and a ton of patience. Luckily for me, I was able to voice these concerns to the Principals of his schools and I've yet to be disappointed with any of his teachers. Every year I speak with his teacher and let her know what I expect from her and I give her a rundown of my his strenghts, weakenesses or whatever. I tried homeschooling and I, with my own ADHD, was drained trying to teach both Cody and Laken, who were at different levels of everything and care for Kailea, who was very demanding.
I think you should listen to you instincts. If you know you aren't a good teacher and your leaning toward public schools....advocate for your child every step of the way. If you feel your child is being left behind or not being stimulated, hold that teacher accountable by mentioning it to her and the principle...take further steps if necessary. I've learned very quickly that we can't shelter our children forever from labels, no matter how hard we want to.
Up to this point, I've been lucky Cody has had some incredible teachers who adored him. Sixth grade is going to be different because he will have many teachers.

Anyway, this has turned into a book. Follow your own instincts, they won't steer you wrong. You will always know what is best for your son. It's written on your heart, PROMISE! :)

Suburbia said...

Don't get me started on schools!! Both mine are dyslexic and find school hard especially my son. I have toyed with the idea of homeschooling and if Small Sprog gets even more stressed it might have to be a reality but I couldn't do it when he is 11+, I don't have the skills or knowledge.

I also agree wholeheartedly about the church school issue. Mine are at a church of England primary which was fairly neutral when Tall Girl started but in the last 2 years it has become overwhelmingly 'churchy'. I don't like it at all and as you say there are so many truths. I hate the onesided view that religion produces.

Ooops sorry this has become a rant!!

I don't envy you your choice but lots of kids do thrive and enjoy school as I did, so you don't know until you try him. It might be better than you think.

Grit said...

i'm saying nothing...!

well obviously that is quite difficult for a mouthy grit.

so i could just say that every one reaches their own decision.

and we quite enjoy the consequences of ours because there are no queues, and that is quite important if you are queue-averse.

Dori said...

May I just say...OMG, wow! Thank you all for the comments and insight!

Marit, I'm just not sure I could handle the other issues (Dutch government) that comes with the great school options. Then again--honestly, who am I to judge another country's politics?!

Melanie, having tutored in Charlotte's schools--I feel your pain! At least you're only dealing with kindergarten at this point!

Gina, thanks for the support! I'm catching up with you later today.

Grit, what can I say? I know you feel so strongly about homeschooling and I'm not ruling it out--just saying that the idea terrifies me!

So, obviously I have my own homework to do!

Amy said...

Hey! Just coming out of my cave for a quick look around. Catching up on your blog here...

I hear ya on the school question. I considered homeschooling for maybe half a second. Amanda's so shy, I do not believe homeschooling would help in the least there.

A quick thought on crawling baby knees: If you cut out the toes of some of her older socks, you can slide the "tubes" up over her knees to protect the soft skin from the harsh floor. Just a thought, though.

The last day of school is upon us, so one more afternoon of the girls and then I'll be free. Prepare to move about the country! :)

(oh, and not pregnant)

Anonymous said...

AMY, That's a great idea about the socks. I wish I would have thought of that or known that when my kids were at crawling age.


Talk to you guys later
BIG HUGS TO YOU BOTH!--->Amy and Dori. OH HECK...I'll just send a hug to everyone!