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I've gotten asked a least a dozen times in the last few months why Mini-moose isn't in school yet.  He'll be two in a couple weeks, and he's tall for his age, so people tend to think he's older than he reason is.  Still...he's not even two!

 

Maybe because of the questions, I've started looking more and more seriously into our options.  Without me writing pages and pages on that, though, I'd like to hear what you do.

 

Public?  (I think there are different kinds of public schools in more populated areas, right?)  Private?  Homeschool?  Unschool?  What works for your kid and your family?  What doesn't?  What do you like and dislike about your current situation?  What would be ideal?

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So much of this depends upon your family and your kid. :) All I can say is what we've ended up with. The small person started going to daycare a couple of days a week when he was 8 months old. This allowed me time to work and a lot of time to be with him. When he was 2.5 he switched a Waldorf inspired preschool. We liked Waldorf because they emphasized nature, being outside, a natural rhythm to the day, etc. Occasionally they got a little hippy/crunchy for us, but we realized too crunchy was better than not being crunchy enough (he was briefly in another program for a bunch of complicated reasons, but essentially we realized quickly that program did not line up with our values). They celebrated every major holiday in every religion, made vegetarian soup and bread, disallowed media, and had a lot of time to just do kid stuff. When he was 3.5 he started going to school full time.

 

When we moved he switched to an accredited Montessori school. We have lost some of the outdoor nature focus with this, which is a bummer. But we have kept the student centered learning, the fact that students move at their own pace, and the mixed age grouping. Smudge has always benefited from being around children older and younger than him, and he gets along with a wide age range of kids. We intend to keep him in the Montessori system as long as we can. It is also project based learning, so all skills are developed in service of some ultimate learning goal and not just because. There is also no standardized testing. I stress accredited because any school can call itself Montessori, but as we learned the hard way, if they're not held to a national standard they could just be a sucky preschool with Montessori slapped on it.

 

Smudge is a very, very social kid, who really thrives on going to school and having his own world and friends. In fact, he was given the option to hang out with me for a month this summer and he insisted on going to school for camps.

 

I will say, Emilio Reggia was a school philosophy for preschool that really appealed to us, but we never found a local school that followed it.

This is one of my most obsessed over topics (Paige is 4..) everyone asks me when Paige is going to school and I just avoid the question because my only other option is to babble on about it for 20-30 minutes..which is worse? 

 

Anyway here's what's brewing in my mind: public school isn't an option because there's just so much I dislike about the school system that I wouldn't want either kids in. I love the idea of homeschooling/unschooling/doing this eclectic mix match that suits us, but it's also intimidating. Right now we sort of are doing that with lots of time in the woods, art projects and field trips...I just don't think young kids need much more. Paige however is totally a social butterfly and I found this great little day school that we can afford so we will interview. They stress lots of PLAY, language and going outside so I'm very much into that..we will see! 

1st Kid started off at a small regular childcare center when he was six weeks and was there until just before his first birthday. From first birthday till he started public school in Kindergarten he went to Kindercare. I really loved their structured day and I liked their curriculum. Their Pre-K helped him be prepared for school and transition was seamless.  

 

2nd Kid was in Kindercare from age 10 weeks till 14 months and for three years after she was at home with Dad. During the week while 1st Kid was at school she watched a lot of pre-school tv, played at the park, went to story time twice a week at the local library, ran household errands  with her dad and occasionally slept during nap time.  When she turned 4 we enrolled her in full-time pre-K at 1st Kid's elementary school. I was very nervous about how it would go. She was used to a being on a schedule but didn't have a lot of experience with navigating large groups of her peers for any extended period of time nor had she been in a classroom ever. Well I nervous for naught, she turned out to be one of the top performing students in her class.

DOH! I failed to cover our current schooling...

 

Both 1st and 2nd Kid currently attend school in a large school district (current student enrollment of over 200K). Thanks to the size of our district we have a lot of different educational options available to us. There are a variety of types - magnet, Montessori, International Baccalaureate, technical schools, etc.

 

1st and 2nd Kid's school is a fine art magnet. As a part of their daily curriculum each student has 45 minutes of fine arts education. Their programs include  band, orchestra, choir, general music, art, theatre, and dance. In grades Pre-K through 2 you rotate through all the arts and in grades 3-5 you get to specialize. Kids that excel in any particular art have the opportunity to participate in an extra hour long weekly enrichment course.

 

Gifted and Talented is done two ways in our district: Integrated with the gift and non mixed in the same classes by grade (with a mix of full class instruction, small group break outs, and some peer to peer teaching); and segregated with the gifted students totally separate from the non. Our school is mixed. I purposefully sought out a school with a mixed GT program. I attended three elementary schools and two junior highs; I was in GT at all of them. I had the opportunity to experienced GT both ways and I love the mixed model. 


Kiwi said:

1st Kid started off at a small regular childcare center when he was six weeks and was there until just before his first birthday. From first birthday till he started public school in Kindergarten he went to Kindercare. I really loved their structured day and I liked their curriculum. Their Pre-K helped him be prepared for school and transition was seamless.  

 

2nd Kid was in Kindercare from age 10 weeks till 14 months and for three years after she was at home with Dad. During the week while 1st Kid was at school she watched a lot of pre-school tv, played at the park, went to story time twice a week at the local library, ran household errands  with her dad and occasionally slept during nap time.  When she turned 4 we enrolled her in full-time pre-K at 1st Kid's elementary school. I was very nervous about how it would go. She was used to a being on a schedule but didn't have a lot of experience with navigating large groups of her peers for any extended period of time nor had she been in a classroom ever. Well I nervous for naught, she turned out to be one of the top performing students in her class.

We opted for in-home daycares with no more than 6 kids, because around age 2 both were transitioning from being home with me full time. At age 2 1/2 they both began attending a day school at our church (same one I went to 30 years ago!) two or three days a week, then O went to a school-like pre-K, then full day kindergarten. It worked for her, and seems to be working for Ebay. They have their home family, their daycare groupd of friends ina family-like setting, and a bit of school so pre-K isn't a shock. Big O is very social. Ebay isn't, but needs the exposure. Neither has ever refused to go to school.
It sounds like you would enjoy the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling.  There are lots of websites out there with info.

Tracy said:

This is one of my most obsessed over topics (Paige is 4..) everyone asks me when Paige is going to school and I just avoid the question because my only other option is to babble on about it for 20-30 minutes..which is worse? 

 

Anyway here's what's brewing in my mind: public school isn't an option because there's just so much I dislike about the school system that I wouldn't want either kids in. I love the idea of homeschooling/unschooling/doing this eclectic mix match that suits us, but it's also intimidating. Right now we sort of are doing that with lots of time in the woods, art projects and field trips...I just don't think young kids need much more. Paige however is totally a social butterfly and I found this great little day school that we can afford so we will interview. They stress lots of PLAY, language and going outside so I'm very much into that..we will see! 

Wow.  This is all very confusing.  In Ontario, you have 3 options:

1) Public school

1a) Catholic school (same curriculum as public school, publically funded but with a a smidge of added religion courses)

1b) French immersion (same curriculum as public school, publically funded, taught exclusively in French, Canada's 2nd language.  Typically one immersion school per board you want in they'll do their best to accomodate you)

3) Private school (very, very rare and expensive, with very few options)

4) Homeschool

 

That's it.  In the public school it is one curriculum, one "philosophy", classes are organized purely by birthdate.  They also start full day school, with curriculum, in the public system on the year they turn 4 (it's called Junior Kindergarten, then Senior Kindergarten at 5, with grade 1 starting the year you turn 6). 

 

There are no deviations, no exceptions, the year you turn 6 you are expected to be in a public classroom unless your parents have signed a waiver stating they take responsibility for your education fully and completely. 

 

You don't get choice about where to go... each school has a catchment area on the map and you go to the school you are zoned to go to.  If you want to change your school you have to sign a waiver and as a parent you are now responsible for all transportation.  But you're going to another school that will have the same curriculum, the same funding, the same model, the same political infrastructure.

 

If you don't have tens of thousands of dollars extra a year, you don't have ANY options other than the public school boards.  And even if you did, most of the private schools here are heavily faith based (at least in my neck of the woods) and they are still very rare.

 

The law requires that all special needs (mental, physical, medical, behavioural) are supported and in theory there is funding for that it's just spread very thin, and some needs are harder to support than others so your milage may vary.  There are almost no "exclusive" classrooms in existence... all children, exceptional and otherwise, autistic and otherwise, are all "mainstreamed" in the same classroom according to age.

 

So in a way, it's a hell of a lot less stressful.  You have one system and as a parent you make the best of it. 

I would have liked to homeschool Little B, since he was very willing and motivated to learn from me, in particular. However, I soon realized that I wasn't qualified to teach him some of the basics. I got him going on math, but failed spectacularly at reading, and at that point put him in Montessori to see how he would do. (I should add, I had a lot of friends in my old hometown who were public school teachers, and the one B would have gone to was on their shit list.) He loved Montessori, and his teacher was impressed with what he knew already. He's doing well now, and is even in an advanced math program. But he is discovering the heartbreak of having to run his English homework by a mom who used to be a copy editor for her HS newspaper. Hahahahaha!

The Little Miss was a total space case when I tried to teach her anything, so at three years old I started her in the Montessori beginnings program, which is probably a bit like Kindercare. She also learned a lot from her brother.  She is having a much easier transition into first grade than B had. She seems like a total ditz, but her teachers say she really buckles down in the classroom, so I'm glad for that. I would never have successfully homeschooled her.

uugggggg.....  this topic is also on my mind a lot.  

 

We are in a local public school (1st grade) and trying to make the best of it.  I am not at all happy with the education D is receiving.  he is so much more advanced than his peers when it comes to science and math.  at 3 the kid was doing math in his head.  i'm feeling like the school is telling him he shouldn't know certain things yet, so he believes he can't do things that i know he can.  I am not at all comfortable with the teaching to the lowest common denominator in the classroom which seems to be the norm around here.  part of it is that our entire district is in "program improvement" meaning they need to bring up the collective test scores.  teachers are under a lot of pressure to bring up the scores and education is suffering because of it.  plus, even though CA voters have mandated that K-3 classrooms should not have more than 24 kids, most classes are at least 30.  D's class has 31 but started the year with 36.  that's just too many for that age and all the children suffer from it.  there aren't even enough desks in some cases.  and then there are all the cuts to art, music, and PE.  because you know, kids don't need that stuff.  *eyeroll*  and don't even get me started on the "safe" playground equipment.  they are trying to remove all traces of fun from recess so the kids won't miss it when that finally gets yanked too.

 

i should note though, i do not blame the teachers for the problems.  they are rock stars in my opinion.  most are doing the very best they can with what they have to work with (which isn't much).  also the teachers spend so much time after-school in meeting and development crap that they don't even have time to talk to parents that have concerns.  most communications are done with email which is usually in the evening when the poor teachers should be getting some down time.

 

Like MNM, i can teach some things very well, but others..  not so much.  I'm actually a little amazed at how much I can work science-lessons into our everyday life.  Everything from gardening to how an engine works.  I'm a little amazed at how much I know too.  :)  I thank my parents for that one.  i would homeschool, but i'm afraid our TV looms large around here and it would be a constant battle to keep it off.  plus, because of B's work schedule and Ro's nap schedule, it would make doing HS difficult.  However, it could be in our future because if D keeps getting in trouble at school he will be kicked out.  then we would be doing HS because i can't afford a private school.  D's been getting in trouble because we're still working out the ADHD thing and the poor kid just doen't have much control over his impulses some days.  a big part of me feels that he's so bored in school that he acts out.  I can't help but wonder if a better environment (more challenges, less kids, more activity, and greater diversity) could really help him.  unfortunately, that just isn't in the cards right now.  when we move next year though, the school will be a top house-hunting priority.

 

i don't get the "unschool" thing.  yes, i've heard that some kids do great, but in my opinion the kids really need that internal motivation to learn to have it be effective.  i'm sure it's great for some people though.  it just wouldn't work around here.

As far as I know, unschooling just means that curriculum is determined by the child and developed organically. Badly done it would mean the kid was left to their own devices, but correctly done it's an easy enough thing to do. I feel like most of us probably do some form of it at home. Something comes up, a kid asks why, and then you're explaining. For example, my kid had the notion the other day to create a robot costume for his dad. In order to do that we had to make a list of the parts on a robot, we had to discuss computer programming, we had to talk about what different kinds of robots look like, and then we had to construct our robot (note: we're still working on construction of the final product). When it's done, we could make up robot stories or a robot play. If I was unschooling, we'd read robot books too. Or, now that we have a fire pit, we've been discussing fire safety, practical construction of a fire, and the scientific explanation of how fire works (notice if you blow on the fire it gets bigger, because fires feed on oxygen. No we can't put a fire inside our house because we don't have a chimney and we'd all suffocate and die).

Well McGlory, when you put it like that..  ;)

 

I guess my only point of reference was an article i read on it.  they interviewed a mom who was unschooling her kids and the 12yo had yet to learn to read.  he just didn't want to.  done like that i can see it being problematic.  I guess i didn't put a label on the teaching i do at home because, well, it's just what I do as a parent.  I teach my kids and when specific questions come up I want to have the answer/find the answer/teach how to find the answer.

Yeah, that's poorly done unschooling (really, the sensationalist media chooses them.. I'll be damned). :) The teaching you do at home is exactly unschooling because it's not school based, but just you being responsive to your kid. :)

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