12 August 2014

What Students Remember

Today I read this article by Lori Gard on Pursuit of a Joyful Life:
What Students Remember Most About Teachers

I have very few memories of elementary school. I remember sitting at round tables in Kindergarten, with gigantic tri-fold cardboard dividers around our tests at the end of the year. I remember my Kindergarten teacher making green eggs and ham on a hot plate in our classroom. And I remember running in the field outside for recess, with the boys labeling every hole in the grass a "booby trap" and being appalled that the teachers let them say a bad word! Ha!

In 1st grade, I remember getting gigantic pink plastic-frame glasses, and I remember sitting on carpet squares in the front of my classroom to listen to Mrs. Duvall read James and the Giant Peach.

I don't remember 2nd grade at all. My mom said we did a lot of worksheets that year, and not much else, so it's no wonder.

My 3rd grade teacher was amazing. Mrs. Goodwin had class pets - a hamster that we could pass around in a container to pet, and an aquarium with a sea anemone! She would roll in the tall TV cart for us to watch episodes of Fat Albert and let us draw on long strips of paper. I remember doing Sweatin' to the Oldies videos in the gym for PE. Before winter break, we did a class play in which I was one of 3 kittens who had lost our mittens. We wore footie pajamas (blue, pink, and yellow - I probably picked pink) and my mom made cat ears out of matching colored felt and plastic headbands.

I started private school in 4th grade, and I have a lot of school memories from then on out.

Not one of those early memories has anything to do with the theme or decorations in the teacher's classroom, or homework assignments, or grades. I am sure they were there, and I am sure they enhanced the experience, but they were not the focus.

Dino is 7 years old now, old enough to remember just about anything he sees or does. He is entering the 2nd grade. I don't know what exactly he will remember, but I want him to remember being, as the article I mentioned at the top says:

Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.

11 August 2014

Almost Show Time!

School starts this week!!! We intend to keep to the same school year calendar as the local public school, so that Dino will have the same days off as his friends. That way, he is not stuck "doing school" when the neighborhood kids are on break and want to play.

Unfortunately for Dino, the first day of school is going to start with a 9am dentist appointment to get some cavities filled.... But that means we will give him a very light schedule for the first day of school: The Magic School Bus videos and maybe a couple of easy worksheets once he comes out of the Nitrous Oxide fog!

I have read about some homeschooling families who have an annual celebration of their first day each year. A "not going back to school" party could include ice cream for lunch, staying in pajamas all day, or a movie day! It sounds like Dino's first day this year might set up a first-day tradition like these!

Day 2 of school will start the real daily schedule.

I sat down last evening and planned out the first couple of weeks. Dino was so excited to see all of the newly organized school supplies! He was so excited to get started that he put together a puzzle of the U.S. and started labeling a blank map with the states. Learning happens all the time, not just during school hours!

Last week, we mailed our Letter of Intent to Homeschool to the local school board Director of Pupil Personnel, as required by our state. I sent it Certified Mail so that they would have to sign for it, and I got a receipt back confirming that they received it. As a courtesy, I also sent a copy of the letter to Dino's former public elementary school so that they could remove him from his teacher assignment before school starts.

Check out all of my homeschooling posts!

04 August 2014

School Options

I have already shared how we reached our decision to Homeschool. I am so thankful that we Americans have options for educating our children as we choose.

There are three options for educating children in the U.S. - public school, private school, and home school. All have their pros and cons.
*Public school is paid for by taxes and is free for the most part, though there could be some fees, especially in high school.
+Private school is varying degrees of expensive, and you also have to pay for the consumable workbooks and possibly text purchase or rental fees.
=Home school costs as much as you want it to. There is usually a large start-up costs for textbooks, workbooks, and supplies that would normally be provided by the school, but you may be able to recoup some of the money by reselling your textbooks.
Extracurricular cost:
*+Public and private school will have fees for extracurriculars (band, sports, field trips), though there may be funding from the school or fundraisers to help offset that cost.
=Homeschool extracurriculars are paid for entirely out-of-pocket. Homeschool groups may qualify for group discount rates for field trips.
*Public schools have requirements set by the country, state, county, and local school board.
+Private schools each set their own education requirements, though there may be some state or local influence.
=Each state has its own laws for homeschool requirements, but it is an option for any family in any state. Some states require certain concepts be taught in certain grades, and some states require that you disclose your chosen curriculum.

Class size:
*Public school classrooms are typically quite large, with one teacher trying to meet the needs of 20 or more students. Our county has an ideal maximum of 22 students per class, but there are often more than that.
+Private schools typically have a smaller ideal class size, giving each student more personalized attention. They accomplish this by capping enrollment or hiring more teachers to lower the student-to-teacher ratio.
=Homeschool class size is only dependent on the number of children you choose to educate at home. You already know your own child's needs intimately, so you are able to challenge them and focus on things with them as they personally need.

*Public schools are required to take whomever they get and provide each child an equal education. (This is hard to do, no matter what school option you choose!) Children learn to play and work with other children from varying backgrounds, religions, and races.
+Private schools are allowed to be choosy about whom they accept as students, so children may not be exposed to as much diversity, but you know that they are around other families whose beliefs are similar to your own while they are young and impressionable.
=Homeschoolers obviously get the "short end of the stick" when it comes to socializing with a group of like-aged children, but in my experience, homeschooled children often have a much more diverse group of friends because their families make a point to socialize with many other families.

One thing to note is that there are also cottage schools or homeschool co-op groups in many places, which provide an option in between private and home schooling. Students meet together at least one day a week for group classes, which may be core classes (Reading, Writing, Science) or elective classes (Karate, Astronomy, Cooking, Music). These provide the students with an opportunity to learn together with other children in a classroom setting and expose the students to teaching methods other than your own, which will benefit them in the long run. Most of these utilize the parents as teachers, assistant teachers, and administrators, to keep costs down. Some of the higher grades may bring in professionals for things like advanced math classes, at a higher cost.

We may consider a one-day-a-week parent-led co-op for the Spring 2015 semester, but registration is already full for Fall 2014.

We chose to home school this school year because it is the best fit for our family right now. It will be the best way to meet Dino's needs today. We will see how it goes, and decide next year whether to continue homeschooling or make a change.

Check out all of my homeschooling posts!