Saturday, January 19, 2013

Confessions of a Possible Homeschooler: the Conclusion

Today, Husband and I finished up our discussions about homeschooling.  I requested that he allow me to try for a year, and if at any time he thinks it's not going well, I would place the children back in school.  He voiced some concerns and I was immediately disheartened.  I wasn't disheartened because I was worried about my ability, but because the concerns he had could not be answered without actually trying homeschooling.  I knew, deep down, he was going to say no.  I know, in theory, I could just do it anyway, but I don't want to.  Unless we are both in total agreement, I don't even want to start homeschooling because I want to have his support.  He agreed that I shouldn't start next year because he couldn't, at this point in time, give me his full support.  He had too many reservations, among them being that he thought Little Viking should at least try public school and see how it goes.  For now, we are putting away all the research and possibly revisiting it at a later time.  Like, a year or more.

I'm not going to say I'm not disappointed.  In fact, I'm heartbroken.  I did not want to deal with public school for another year.  I don't want the hours and hours of research I put into this issue to be wasted.  I don't want to the several people that helped me through this and pointed me to fantastic information to have wasted their time.  And most of all, I don't want my children to be stuck in classrooms being drilled with standardized tests and Reading Counts.  The way schools are now feels wrong to my mother's heart.

EDIT: I know there are a few people waiting for both of my kids to be in school so they can start putting me into more volunteer positions at the school.  I don't think I'm ready for that.  I told Husband that so many of them think I'm homeschooling next year now, and I'm not going to correct them right now.  I told him, flat out, that I was going to allow them to continue to think that I'll be missing next year so that I won't be pushed into anything yet.

"Nothing has been decided," he said matter-of-factly.

I was very surprised by his statement.  As of yesterday afternoon, he was fixed on putting the kids in public school again next year.  Well, again for Philosopher Child, but the first time for Little Viking.

At this point, I'm exhausted with the whole thing.  I still want to homeschool, but I can't without his full support.  We're back to where we started.  We don't know what we are doing next year and can't move forward with any idea at this point.  Honestly, I'm feeling rather defeated.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confessions of a Possible Homeschooler Part II

Part I found here.

Today I found out some really disturbing things about the school board.  Apparently, there was some sort of educational committee that they were supposed to be talking to when it comes to big decisions.  When this committee asked if there were any big changes coming, the school board said no.  The next month the school board announced several possible school closings and some scary potential budget cuts.  Evidently, something about all this was illegal.  Now, the school board was set to vote on the school closings next week, but this committee sent them a certified letter that basically said, "You are not voting on a darn thing yet," and there is now a lawyer involved.

The budget cuts affecting the educational programs, however, are what specifically concerns me.  It turns out they have no intention on voting on that until it's almost time for the next school year to start.  Darn it.

How on earth do I make decisions about next year with this kind of nonsense going on?  I honestly don't know.  I'm going to try to pitch the idea of a trial period of homeschooling before real homeschooling to Husband.

We just don't know what to do now.  We don't know the plan for next year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Glitter Pop

Glitter Pop: verb.  When a child that is way too young bursts his/her parents' bubble when it comes to Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.

Walking home from school this morning (yes, school.  If we homeschool, it won't be until next year), Little Viking (who is 5-years-old and not yet in school) told me that he wishes it was still Christmas time.

"But we have other holidays coming up," I said.  "Like Easter.  Should the Easter Bunny bring Easter cookies again this year?"

Viking Toddler replied, in a very calm, and matter-of-fact tone, "Mom, the Easter Bunny isn't real."

*face palm*

"What do you mean?  You don't believe in the Easter Bunny?" I asked.

"No," he said.  "He's not real."

"Why do you think that?  Where did you learn that?"

"I recognized the shapes of the cookies.  I think you made them," he said.  No emotion, just stating a fact.  He might as well have said the sky is blue.

I could take a couple of roads here.  I could flat out lie and say, "But he is real!"  Or, I could ignore his question, or, I could say, "Yes, you're right."  I took the latter.

"Ok, you got me.  I did make the cookies.  The Easter Bunny is just a fun story that we tell kids around Easter.  Just don't tell your brother."

He was OK with knowing for a fact that the Easter Bunny isn't real.  He's OK with knowing that it is just a story.  What confused him is why he shouldn't tell.

"He wants to believe, so let him," I answered.

This had gone over the philosophical line.  He started muttering and wondering out loud why it could possibly be a bad thing to tell his brother a fact.

I see trouble coming.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Confessions of a Possible Homeschooler

The public schools in our area are in trouble.  Big trouble  Huge trouble.  Our school board is seriously considering cutting all art and music education for next year, along with reducing funding for libraries, support staff, gifted programs, remedial programs, and a whole host of others.  These ideas are very scary for most parents, and they are on the verge of becoming a reality.

More scary stuff: the standardized testing.  In our state, like most other states, standardized testing is not optional.  If students don't pass their state standardized test at the end of the year, they fail the grade, regardless of their previous grades and coursework (unless their teacher chooses to step in and submit proof that the student should be promoted regardless).  I hate state standardized tests, but so far they have merely been a necessary evil, or more accurately, something I couldn't do anything about.  I knew they started learning how to take the test in 1st grade, and much of the course work in every grade has to do with these tests, but they don't actually start testing until 3rd.  The other day, I found out something disturbing.  The kindergarteners at our school are now learning how to neatly fill in bubbles while test questions are read to them.  I was unbelievably frustrated with how much focus there is on these tests.

Add that to the whole Reading Counts situation.  I don't hate the RC program, but I hate the way it is implemented.  Basically, it works like this: a child reads a book from the Reading Counts database, then the child takes an online quiz.  If the child passes the quiz, they get a certain number of points.  Now, don't get me wrong, there are lots of books in the database, but it is far from comprehensive.  In fact, last year I purchased 5 chapter books from Scholastic's own book fair, and not one of them was in the RC database.  Frustrating?  Yes.  Why?  Because the way our school is using RC, a child does not have time to read anything that is not in the RC database.  It was supposed to foster a love of reading, but really did the opposite.  Much of what he is interested in isn't in the RC database.  Philosopher Child currently has to read a chapter book per week and then some to keep up, and he's only in 3rd grade.  If he doesn't earn enough points, it negatively affects his reading grade.  If that isn't bad enough, Philosopher Child told me that he is allowed to take out 3 books from the library each week, and it is mandatory that at least 2 of them are RC books.  This feels wrong, and since this has been pushed on the kids, my amazing reader has started to hate reading.

So, for argument's sake, let's say that the school board shuts down all the wonderful programs they are threatening to.  What then?  I don't particularly love the charter or private schools here (nothing wrong with them, they're just not right for us), so that leaves homeschooling.

Homeschooling has been a back pocket plan since the beginning.  It's not something we wanted to do.  It's not something we really intended to do, but every year we face more and more issues with the public school system, and every year we review the homeschool laws, just in case.

I know that from what I told you it looks like we're making a knee-jerk reaction over nothing.  These things may seem like minor annoyances at best.  But know this: I'm only telling you a small portion of what is going on.  What I haven't told you about yet that I'll just briefly touch on are the following: bullying (we're talking physically dangerous stuff that the principal called security over, not just name calling), being told over and over by a previous teacher that something must be wrong with Philosopher Child and he needs to see a doctor (turns out he was just bored and not being challenged), being told every time I question a policy that makes no sense (and is often detrimental to education) that it is "because of the standardized tests," and get this: there is a kindergarten teacher at this school that covers her windows so the kids can't see outside.  A kindergarten teacher.  Of course there's more, but you get the idea.

The final straw is the removal of the art and music programs paired with test drilling starting in kindergarten.  It's not right.  It does a disservice to our children.  Not just my children, but all the children.  At this point I think I can say with a clear conscience that we, Husband and I, can do better for our children.  Ideally, issues with the schools would be fixed and Philosopher Child and Little Viking would continue to play and learn with their age-mates.  At this point, however, I know that we, personally, can't save the arts in schools.  We can't save the gifted program.  We can't save the support staff that are being cut.  There isn't enough money and the school board has decided that their best choice is to close several schools and severely cut programs and funding to the remainder.  The money needs to be pulled from elsewhere, but it is impossible for me, as a parent, to convince the powers that be that maybe some of the money should come from other (sometimes ridiculous) places.

So, you may ask, now what?  Honestly, I don't know.  We can't make a definite decision until the school board votes later this month.  In the meantime, I'm gathering information, curriculum possibilities, and acquainting myself with the homeschool laws.  If the time comes, I want to be ready.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Animal Magnet

Animal Magnet: noun.  A child that animals are naturally attracted to.

There is something strange about my children.  Animals just seek them out and give them their undivided attention.  There was a stray cat that used to sit outside of our back fence and listen to Philosopher Child talk.  It would sit there for an hour at a time, staring at his face and listening.  This afternoon, three (apparently friendly) dogs that we had never seen before came running at us unexpectedly.  They bypassed me and began licking Little Viking, emphatically asking him to play (until their owner realized they were not behind the gate and the dogs knew they were in trouble and beat feet, so to speak).  On the way home, the neighbor's cat, which we do not feed or entertain, sought out Little Viking for some attention.  Not even squirrels tend to run from these kids.  I have no idea what is going on with that.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hey, Momtionary, where ya been?

I know I said I was going to be back more often, but I kind of...well, things fell apart.  Here's a few things you missed.

~Little Viking starts kindergarten this coming year.  He will have just turned six before the start of school.  We didn't put him in this year because the maturity wasn't there.  However, he does know all his colors/shapes/numbers and all that Kindergarten stuff, in addition to being able to read a little bit and does simple addition and subtraction in his head.  Unfortunately, most of what he's learning right now isn't touched on until 1st grade, so he'll likely be bored out of his skull in Kindergarten.  I should probably apologize to his teacher in advance, although honestly, I don't know that I care to.  I'm still mad about going through a long stretch of dealing with nonsense from Philosopher Child's teachers who were sure there was something wrong with him.  That changed after his IQ was tested and he was found to be...well...ok, he's a genius.  And geniuses, my friends, are always odd ducks.

~The washing machine broke.  We had to go get a new one and ended up buying a model with good reviews that plays music at the end of each cycle.  Did you catch that?  The washing machine freaking sings to me.  Darn right it does.

~I had an epic falling out with a family member that caused a lot of pain.  However, since it wasn't the first time this person has behaved this way towards me, I've decided that with forgiveness and prayer to just let it go.

~I've been journaling like crazy.

~I've been making major efforts to get my headaches and anxiety under control.  I have good days and bad days.

~Husband and I have been gardening like crazy.  We've had a good sized garden for the past 3 growing seasons.  Fortunately, we have a spring growing season AND a fall growing season here.  Currently out there is a huge variety of salad greens, a ton of tomatoes, some peppers, white and brown onions, a few variety of carrots, beets, broccoli, herbs, and...huh.  I know I'm forgetting something.  Anyway, there's a ton of veggies out there.

~I'm on the board of the school PTO, but I won't be staying there next year.  Too much drama and I don't agree with some of their decisions.  Unfortunately, I can't do anything about it other than step down, which I'll be doing.

And that's what I've been up to.