Friday, April 14, 2017

School Choice ~ Our Decision

Awhile back I did a post on socialization and our kids, as well as a lot of society's perception of it verses the reality.  I did the post because T is at the age where he can go to a prekindergarten in the Fall. I, like many other families with kids the same age, was spending my time looking at all the options we had.

Pre-Kindergarten is not required by the state.  So, you can try to get into the school you hope to get into for kindergarten, you can go the private route or day care route, you can go the Christian school or program route.  Many options to look at, sift through, visit, and think on.  Living in the city we do, you can do anything from Montessori, to science based, to art based, to foreign language, art, and more.  Choices are everywhere and that is just the public school route.

It is a hard decision.  Oddly, harder than I thought. I used to teach four and five year olds.  At the end of the year I would see them off to Kindergarten and their next school.  A choice that seemed to come easily to the parents I worked with and talked to during conferences.  Now, with my own kiddo, the choice proved to be a tougher one than I had anticipated.  Well, at least at first.

After some time, some thought, and a lot of prayer we finally decided which route we are going.  Before I say more, take a moment to think about these questions.

Picture the most ideal set up for a classroom for your kiddo.  What do you see? What does it involve? What does the day look like?  What do they learn?  How do they learn? What extras are built into the day? How many teachers? What kind of teachers? Is there art, music, outside time, etc? How many kids are in the class? What kind of movement is throughout the day? Is there one on one instruction? One on small group instruction? How often? How long? What happens when a kiddo picks up on the topic quickly and can breeze through it? Then what? How do they spend their time?  What if there is something that really peaks their interest and they want to learn more, as well as spend more time on it? Do you want to be able to take learning on the go?  Where do you think they will thrive most?

My ideal classroom would look a little like this: Small class size, lots of one on one time, lots of small group time, outside time, learning throughout the day, little to no homework, time spent with family, time spent in nature, learning on the go and wherever we are throughout the day, leaves room for play and learning through play, a chance to be around various ages, creative time, hands on learning.

That is just the beginning.  So after looking at what we wanted in a school and looking at our options out there, we made our decision.  We have decided to homeschool.  Now, before you start commenting and judging our decision take a moment.  Homeschool doesn't mean that we will be at home doing school all the time.  It means that we as parents are the teachers, as well as family and friends.  It means that the learning can and does take place wherever and whenever.  In a sense, we've already been homeschooling our kids.  We are choosing to continue with it as our kids learn academics too.

The first question I've gotten since we made the decision was, well what about socialization?  That is why I wrote the post on it early.  You see our kids don't need to go to a building and be taught by a teacher to learn socialization.  In fact, being in a school has little to do with socialization.  Being out in society and learning as you grow up about the world around you and how you interact within a society is what socialization is about.

I've also been told, well we send them to a preschool or prekindergarten now so they can get to know the other kids in the neighborhood and the kids they are going to be in school with.  They can start to build their friendships.  My question is what is stopping you from getting to know those kids outside of a school setting?  Why not have the neighbor kids over to play? Why not meet at a playground near by?  Why do they have to be in a school setting to get know one another?  Especially when being social is frowned upon and takes a backseat to learning and testing.

Most school classrooms are in the same mindset, we have to get them ready for the next grade. Instead of teaching what is truly necessary, the focus is on testing and the getting the kids ready for the next grade.  So things move at a face pace.  Sometimes kids handle it great and sometimes not.  Why not let them delve in deeper and learn the things need to through the avenues that interest them the most?  Why not take the extra time to help them understand ideas when needed, and jump ahead quickly with the ideas they understand already? Why make them sit in a classroom for hours on end, especially when it's not developmentally appropriate? Why make them sit for hours on end in a school, only to sit at home for hours at night doing homework?  If they can get the work done in an hour in the day, why not let them and move onto other stuff?

We've decided to make the world around us our classroom. We are going to learn along side our kiddos. We are going to use the abundant resources that are around us, wherever we are to teach, to learn, to grow, to thrive.