Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bringing it Back Home

Last Spring, when I decided to return to College, I made the difficult decision to stop Homeschooling Frank and enroll him in Public School. Homeschooling worked amazingly well for our family! I went to great lengths to interview different school's and enroll him in one where I thought we'd have the best chance of success.

Since September, we have been integrating ourselves into Public School. Not only attending school, but also PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings, volunteering, and kibitzing with the other parents. Frank has now been attending Public School for an entire semester.

Frank Reading Aloud at Bedtime

I consider this to have been a Valiant Effort on our part, but in the end, it just doesn't work well for Frank or, for that matter, for our family. Tomorrow will be Frank's last day at Public School for First Grade. I have made arrangements to bring treats in at the end of the day for a little "Going Away" party.

Honestly, I have not been happy with the idea of Public School since the beginning, but in order to clear my mind (and schedule) for College, I knew I needed to "Grin and Bear It". It is important to note that I fault the system as a whole, and not the individuals at the school, for our dissatisfaction. We have had great interactions with the people at Frank's school! There are just so many problems with the way the program is set up! I'm not sure if I should go into all the details here, or just suffice it to say we are not happy with it.

A big part of the challenge with returning to homeschooling is the fact that I will be serving in the Wyoming State Legislature as part of my college courses. I will be an Intern in Cheyenne for four weeks (beginning February 5th). So, Tom needed to feel comfortable with whatever schooling was in place. Since I injured my back over Thanksgiving Weekend, Tom has been spending a lot more time at Frank's school, taking him, dropping him off, and even joining him for lunch and recess at school. With all the extra time around the Public School, what Tom saw infuriated him.

Tom and I talked extensivley, then a kind and generous friend loaned us her WinterPromise curriculum to review. We were quite excited to see that one of Tom's favorite topics (American History) is the basis of the curriculum she had. Last week we talked with Frank, and were quite frankly astounded by his hesitancy. (Then again, Frank has always been cautious about change.) Frank was ponderous and ask a lot of questions. He was also sad about the idea of not seeing some of his friends and teachers. After some more discussions, Frank thought some more. He actually went to school the next day and came home and still didn't give us a decision. Finally, on the way in to Ice Skating, Frank said "I've decided about school. I want to homeschool again, but first I want to finish the semester." Wow! Seven years old and such responsibility! I actually swelled with pride a bit at this point.

This week, Frank's been saying his good-byes and taking my small digital camera with him. Frank is taking pictures of his teachers, and tomorrow, during his party, I'll take pictures of him with his friends. We are also collecting phone numbers, and have made some "Trading Cards" for Frank to hand out. They include my cell phone number and his picture, so people can call him. We've already begun talking about the Pros & Cons of school, from Frank's perspective. Tomorrow night, we'll start a written Pros / Cons List so we can make certain to include things he likes and can restructure other areas that weren't working.

Jack has been fairly quiet about all of this, but he did say he liked Frank "going to work" every day. So, I'm sure that there will be some sibling issues to iron out again, but I suspect they will be minor.

Tom will Homeschool Frank until I return from the Capitol in March, then we will Team Teach. Tom has been studying the materials in preparation for him starting the teaching next week. Right now, I'll be in the role of Coach, helping to guide and direct them, but realizing the Tom and Frank will have to find their own groove as school begins again here at Shadona Central.


Celise said...

Truly, I'm not surprised. After shadowing my niece for a day a few years ago, I left her school thinking "Why in the world weren't charter schools around when I was in high school?" I think I would've like school more.

I'm sorry public school didn't work out, but it sounds like homeschooling is much better anyway.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited for you & that precious, sensitive, creative, intelligent boy of yours! I don't know what possessed me to read your blog today... I haven't been spending much time on the web just playing around, but am so glad I did!

I am really happy that Tom is so on-board. I know he'll be great too & so good for a boy to have a father in that kind of role.

Does Tom get to take the kids to work for the month?


SuzyQSparkles said...

Yes, the boys respond SO WELL when Tom works with them on scholastic endeavors!

Tom will be taking them to the college children's center during the weekdays. He can take them and pick them up anytime from 7:15-5:15. Our friend and neighbor just started running the center, so it's nice to know she's nearby too. They love it there!

On nights and weekends, I have a call-list of babysitters and friends Tom can call on.

And yes, Tom has customers who even request the boys come with him... though sometimes it's not safe or convenient, so then he'll leave them home. He should make some "Tech-in-Training" name tags for them, and have them dress in nice shirts for when they go to work with him... hmmm..... ;)