Thursday, April 15, 2010

School Daze

Last week, I was thrilled to find this in my mailbox:

The new Sonlight catalog. Not quite as exciting as the actual Box Day, but it's pretty darn close. I feel like a giddy child getting the Sears Toy Catalog.

Sonlight's tagline is "The Way You Wish You'd Been Taught" and they're darn right. I am right here, learning as much as my kids, sadly realizing just how much I didn't learn in my years of public and parochial schooling. And I was an A/B student, too. Scary. Yet I am so thankful that I'm learning it now because we are never too old to learn.

Our overall attitude towards homeschool/traditional school is "child by child, year by year," meaning that we take each child and assess what best serves their needs each year.

Next year, we will homeschool 6th grade for Hatfield and 2nd grade for Atticus. But for Keenan and Miles, homeschool is not the best option for them.

I am not equipped to handle their special educational needs at this time. As one language specialist explained to me, our boys are in trickier ELL territory because neither was fully fluent in Kreyol (neither boy knew their colors or numbers in Kreyol, for example.) Keenan has larger speech therapy/ELL than Miles, but Miles still has substantial needs as well. And I'm beginning to suspect that both boys could benefit from some OT, in terms of sensory issues.

So, we enrolled Keenan and Miles in an all-day kindergarten program next year at a "community" public elementary school in our area. By "community" it means that anyone from our district can enroll without the School Choice program.

The school is a non-traditional school. Each child has an ILP/IEP, and the school has many in-house paraprofessionals. The classrooms are large, and they try to keep students in the room as much as possible, with the paraprofessionals coming to them instead of vice-versa.

The past two weeks I have had to go to a series of interviews with teachers there, to discuss each boy with the teachers, so they can begin their learning plans and special needs assessments. I've been very impressed with their positive attitudes and serving nature. I think the boys will thrive there next year, and I look forward to the start of the new year.

In the middle of all the school talk and decisions lies our dear little Po, and what to do with her. This year, she is in 4-K with the boys. She loves it, and she loves being with her brothers (most of the time) in school. She is bright, active, articulate and mature--she could totally handle Kindergarten work. It would be very easy to keep in her school with the boys through kindy or first grade, and then pull all three of them out to homeschool.

But, Paloma is little. I mean, little little. She just hit 32 pounds at 4 1/2. I have two girlfriends with daughters born in Aug of 2006 (Po is Aug of 2005), and Paloma wears their hand-me-downs. The thought of her being in this HUGE school building makes me feel all knotted up inside.

In the end, we decided to keep Po home and have her do, in her own words, "homework." Paloma is a young 5, and even if we did not homeschool, there is no way I would enroll her as the youngest child in her class. While she could handle the kids and work next year, I worry about the 4th/5th grade years when girl begin to make those large physical/emotional/maturity leaps. It's hard being the girl who is far behind the curve on that one. And, I really don't want to be sending my baby off to college as a 17 year old.

Truth be told, I'm excited but a little nervous to homeschool my "Pona." She is more headstrong than the 4 other children put together. Yet we both made it through the first 3 years of her strong-willed existence together, so I have great hopes that we can make it through kindergarten, too.

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