I've held the "option" of public school over my daughter's head for some time now. I know it's not totally healthy. When I can't think of anything else to motivate her into action, I would let her know that public school was only a phone call away. That was usually enough to get her busy again.
THen one day, we had an argument. It was fairly poignant. It stung on both sides I think. Something inside me went a little cold and I just felt that public school was no longer a threat to keep her in check, but a viable option that needed to be explored. I felt tha tmy stress load with the new baby was ever mounting. I Felt that homeschooling had become less attractive as I felt more and more overwhelmed. It was really hard to monitor behaviour while nursing from the couch or in the baby's room and when I finally got up to discover that the Wii had been on the whole last half hour instead of doing (what ever I asked) I generally would flip out because I was so tired, so sleep deprived, so short on patience.
So, that day, I really did make the phone call. We went down tothe school and I enrolled her. We started classes the next day. I had mixed feelings. I know my 7yo did too. She was excited to see our neighbor boy would be inher class, yet nervous and anxious about the unknonw. KNowing my daughter the way I do, I was sure she woudl love school. I just wasn't sure if I WANTED her to love school.
Well, I was right. When I picked her up on the first day she had the BIGGEST smile you ever saw to go with a red stain mustache that was evidence of a classmate's birthday party. Ugh. I felt like a failure. She loved public school way more than homeschool. I had given it my heart, my all, my soul. And failed. AFter all my strong feelings and convictions about the benefits of homeschooling, here I was having to admit that "government" really could make school more enjoyable for my child. It was a hard pill to swallow.
That was Dec 1 of this year. So she's had 3 weeks of public school. In that shor ttime, we've both learned a lot. Here's what's good to say about the experience thus far:
My daughter has learned to use an alarm clock. I don't have to nag her to get up and do anything. She gets up on her own and is ready for school without any nudging for me. She comes home with a smile! She enjoys her homework. She has made new friends. I have oodles more time. I can focus on my other children rather than squeezing them in between lessons with my oldest. It makes me feel like a better mom. There is more peace at home as we have no arguments over school work anymore. Her teacher is a doll. She really cares and does the best with the resources she has available. So, lots of positives right?
Obviously, I was concnerned about academics. We did second grade lastyear. Putting her into a second grade classroom felt very backward. They tested her at a 4.5 grade reading level, but dont' really have the time/resources to help her progress from that point. She'll be in the "top" group fo course. But that doesn't really mean she'll get the customized education that I'm used to providing her with. Theyactually told me that they stopped the reading test because she had done so well, but the third grade teachers didn't want the second graders moving beyond a certain point before coming into their classes. AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I had to squelch a big scream when I heard that.
Of course, personally I have a hard time with the school politics, the rig-a-ma-role of having to be part of sucha large system and play by their rules. Being controlled by their schedules, and subject to their policies is hard for a mom who's never experienced that. It feels like I have to just roll over and play dead.
A friend at a Christmas party explained it very well. She said going from homeschool to public school is the same as going from self employed entrepreneur to subservient employee. It's a super hard transition.
Well, my duaghter contineus to enjoy public school. I am trying not to show my distaste for the "big box" education they provide in her presence. HOWEVER....there's been a change, which I will explain more about down the road. But suffice it to say for now, that I think we'll be back at homeschool in February. Details to follow....