Friday, September 6, 2013

Schooling Our Children

I briefly toyed with the idea of homeschooling our children while our oldest was still a baby, but when the time came we sent her off to kindergarten at our tiny, rural, local K-7 elementary school.
Lacy, heading off to Kindergarten in 2008

She did well and thoroughly enjoyed her first four years at the school, she had great teachers and we had no reason to be concerned until a troubling note on her report card brought us in for a parent-teacher conference.After that conference, we were shocked and dismayed to realize the shortcomings of our educational system-lacy had been in a three grade split class (3/4/5) where the teacher, the matter how capable he was, could not possibly cover all the recommended curriculum. While we have no particular ideological reason to believe that children need to cover the curriculum at a certain time, we were shocked at the response from the district superintendent and others which was basically "that's how it is, they will learn what they need eventually"! Well, that was reassuring...NOT!

After much thought and consideration, we decided that the following school year (Lacy's grade 4 year) we would pull her from the local school and enroll her in a local distributed learning (sometimes called distance learning or correspondence school) program. A distributed learning program is still a public school, and the student still receives report cards, while the parents receive the support and guidance of a licensed teacher as well as resources and a small amount of funding. It is not technically "homeschooling" but our particular distributed learning school is fairly flexible in how we choose to meet the governments PLO (prescribed learning outcomes). My husband and I feel strongly that it is important to us that our children be fully ready to reenter the regular school system at any time if that is what they need. Therefore, we have stuck with the distributed learning school for this year, in which my youngest daughter has started kindergarten. I spend a great deal of time searching for unique and creative ways to meet the PLO and trying to engage the girls in active learning, while having fun, while ensuring that they get an excellent education. It is a lot of work, but I thoroughly enjoy it.
while those were our reasons for starting homeschooling, more and more reasons to continue our becoming apparent. I am fully confident that academically the girls will excel, one on two attention will do that at least, but feel in the long run homeschooling will enable them to be well-rounded, confident, capable, young women. Lacey had some great friends at school, and they are generally sweet girls she is still friends with, but I am so glad that neither she nor Amy will have to deal with any of the normalization/socialization that goes on in the schoolyard. Lacey will not be teased about not being stick thin, Amy will not be teased for her glasses and eyes that cross when she has them off, neither of my sweet girls will be tempted to engage in mean girl type bullying and both will have ample opportunity to develop a strong relationship with us, their parents instead of their peers (for more on that I recommend reading Hold onto Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld).
Lacy and Amy on the first day of grade 5 and K - 2013

So, our children would've been learning at home whether or not we decided to go adventuring in our travel trailer. We look at the travel as a grand opportunity to expose our children to different environments and types of people throughout North America-I will be doing my best to coordinate their schoolwork with the particular region in which we are spending the winter. We also hope to be able to explore our own magnificent country with them-but not during the winter, LOL.

This past Wednesday, was the first day of (school) for us and so far the first week has gone splendidly. It will take us a bit to find our groove, and lose it again, but we will work it out together as a family because that's what we do.

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