Tuesday, May 18, 2010

confession time

So, my friend pointed out to me the other day that I haven't blogged here since February. I thought it was finally time to come clean on the reason why.

I'm not sure we are as dedicated to homeschooling as we are to making the right educational choices for our children. Homeschooling was the right choice for Alex. Clara, however, has always just been along for the ride. I have questioned for years if homeschooling was the right option for her. Not necessarily academically, but socially. She thrives in group settings, she missed her preschool experience in a way that Alex never did. Jeff and I started discussing this seriously after the first of the year.

By the first of March, we had decided to look into school as an option for Clara. We found a school that is a performing arts magnet school and went on a tour. It looked like it could be a good fit for Clara. She did not know why we went on the tour. When she questioned us later, I simply told her that the school had a tour day, open to the community, and that her dad and I had just gone to check it out to be informed community members. She started asking details about the school and what we saw... I stuck to facts. She disappeared for a little while and then reappeared. She told me that although she liked being homeschooled, this school sounded like a good fit for her and she wanted to know if we would let her try it. She was so excited! I know she doesn't fully grasp the reality which is school, but she was truly excited about giving it a try. I told her that if it was something she wanted to try, she was more than welcome to (each year we always ask the kids what they would like to do the following year... they've just always said "homeschool" in the past).

The more Clara talked about it and asked questions, the more excited she got. That's when my worst homeschooling nightmare happened.... Alex got caught up in it all. He decided that if Clara was going to try it.... so would he! I was ill at this point. This wasn't supposed to happen. The school that we saw for Clara was not a good option for Alex even to try.... and we had already missed the lotteries for other schools. We informed him of this and told him that his only real option was the school Clara liked (we're within their boundaries so they have to take the kids). He was fine with this, but I wasn't. Alex is my kid who gets up and has his schoolwork done by 9:00am, who watches the history channel for the fun of it and randomly picks subjects then checks out and reads all of the library books available on that subject. He crafts his own educational experience much better than I can at times.

But... we moved forward and I scheduled another school tour and this time the kids were going along with me (this was about two weeks ago). Clara loved it all.... the dance studio, the fact that her grade was mostly girls, the fact they have musicals and dance performances.... we got to meet with a reading specialist who went through exactly were Clara should be coming out of 2nd grade and was pleasantly surprised to see that she was at or above where she should be (this had worried me since I really only had Alex to compare her with). As much as Clara loved it, Alex didn't love it. They were lacking in his favorite subjects and most of the material they would cover in 5th grade was what Alex did this year at home in 4th. And all of the stuff Clara was so excited about... dance, performances, etc... were things that Alex was just so-so about (he loves performing, but he's been doing enough professional theater lately that doing it at school doesn't appeal to him).

He came back from that tour in a horrible, horrible mood. He had in his mind that he really, really wanted to try school next year but was not sure this is where he wanted to be even just to try. We had a big talk later. I asked him why he wanted to go to school. He said that almost everyone he knows either goes to or has gone to school and he just needs to know for himself what it's like. I really couldn't argue with that. As a friend pointed out, to him, it's like another one of his research projects.... he needs to gather his own data.... this is an experiment. I had to respect that. However, I knew that the school Clara was going to go to was not the right place for him even to try (oh... don't think I didn't consider it for the selfish reason that I was pretty darn sure he wouldn't like it and would return to homeschooling ASAP). I talked to him about staying home another year. During that year we would research and tour possible schools for him. I decided to do some poking around on the school website and found that a few schools were having a second late lottery. I did some research and asked around about the schools on the list. I found one that looked like it could be a good option for Alex. We sent in the form and now we wait.

So, there you are. I may not be a homeschooling mom come next fall. One is going to give school a try for sure. One is waiting to see what fate decides. This time of year I'm usually reading homeschooling catalogs like crazy.... making list after list... reading message boards for suggestions and recommendations, etc. This year, I'm just here. My catalogs are stacked and ready (unread) waiting to be called into action if Alex doesn't get in to the school.

We're still doing school, but it's more school prep these days... which is why I haven't been blogging about what we've been doing. I wasn't sure I was ready to come clean about it all. Not because I'm embarrassed about any of it.... but just because it was all so up in the air (and actually still is a bit).

My thoughts are that our educational philosophy isn't going to change because they both may be in school. We try curriculum all of the time. We try things at one time and find it's not a good fit, only to try it again a couple years later and it really clicks! This is no different... they're just trying school. We've also let them make choices (or at least have a say) in their education over the years.... again, this is no different. Friends asked the other night what we would do if they both went and hated it. If that happens and they have given it a fair shot, they are free to come back home again at a break.

So right now I'm busy collecting and organizing books so they will have a good reference library at home (I always need a reason to buy more books). We're in the midst of our end of the year testing. And after they get back from camp, we'll continue with school prep. And it will all be okay :-)


Kez said...

Oh Tracie, what a turbulent time. All we can do from day to day is do what's best for our kids - whatever that is. And that changes from time to time as well!

Big Hugs!

Aly in Va said...

I totally missed this post, and of course now I've read the "fate" post first....Things always have a way of working themselves out. It's amazing how different your children can be and sometimes it's hard not to compare them- sounds like you guys have been very honest about and open to their needs. Best of luck with everything.