Sunday, February 6, 2011


We got some really, really, really great news this weekend.  It has lead to A LOT of soul searching this weekend.

We had withdrawn the girls from school before we got the results from the standardized tests that they took last spring and the school never sent them.  I was on the fence about requesting them, but then decided to ask for them last week.  A's came in the mail yesterday and she was proficient in EVERYTHING!!!!

My poor, sweet girl had struggled and struggled.  In first grade she was taken out of class to get extra help in reading.  In second grade, she was the only one taken out of class for extra math help.  She was horrified and embarrassed and it affected her so much.  It broke my heart.  In third grade, I fought tooth and nail and became her advocate.   In fourth grade we discovered that she had test anxiety.

The teacher who was really tough on her made the biggest difference.  Her math scores were through the roof!

She would not have been taken out of class for Basic Skills Instruction (BSI--a pull out program in our school) had she been in school this year!

This is wonderful, fantastic news.  She is proud of herself.

Her father and I are proud of her and have let her know it.

Her sister asked, "Now, do you want to go back to school?"

I held my breath.

She said that she didn't know.

This was one of our reasons for taking the girls out of school.  We object to how much weight these tests have.  I saw the BSI as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I saw my beautiful, creative girl believe that she was dumb, even though she was on the honor roll, even though she did well in class...  I was afraid of what that meant for her future.  The school kept insisting that she would gain confidence in a small group and that would transfer to the larger group and better test scores.

But now that is all irrelevant to the equation, because she would not have been pulled out for extra help "to boost her confidence" ...

Am I keeping her up to par?

What if she goes back in the future and she is behind??

And needs BSI again and it is all my fault?

Should we send her back?

Part of me says yes.  She should be with her friends.  I haven't found time for foreign language.  I am not that strict.  She could have the opportunity to play an instrument.  They need to deal with difficult kids and teachers to learn that the world is not perfect.

And part of me says no.  I remember the social pressure last year to have the right clothes and the cell phone.  Sometimes feeling left out of parties and things.  Our family's life dictated by the school and the school projects.  The stress.  Waking up early.  Homework.  How grouchy she would be when she was home after a grueling day.  Learning not for mastery but to pass a test.  The emphasis on the test and the stress that caused.

Test scores, test scores, test score...teaching kids to take a test was their primary goal.

She would have more opportunities to be in plays and play instruments in school... (although she does do both of these things in coop).

But now she has the opportunity to swim and skate and do things she loves.  To be her own person.

I am really excited to study the Greeks and Greek Mythology with the girls.  I am excited to do the literature pockets!!

I am excited that A is dressing with her own unique style again.  Since A was very tiny, she loved putting outfits together and would change her clothes many times a day.  Once she started school, she started to dress like everyone else.  Now I see her adding her own personal flair to her outfits.

I want to do Latin with the girls.  I have been looking at Latin programs.

I am happy that I have this time with my girls.  To do crafts and to talk and to read with them.  I love watching them learn and grow.  I love being with them.  I love that time seems to have slowed because we are spending more quality time together.  I love that we are not influenced by other parents and kids, but are able to make decisions that are right for us.  I love how relaxed and at ease and calm and happy my girls are.

But am I doing the right thing?

Am I being selfish?

I remember getting to that age...when I wanted that little independence, when my peers were more important than my parents.  Am I just having a hard time with my girls getting to that point?  Do I not want to let go?  Is that what this is all about?  Am I not allowing them to be cool?

In the spring,  they can feel cool around the neighborhood with the other kids.  There will probably be an air of mystery since they don't go to school anymore.  They see friends at the library when they come to work with me.  All of the kids say how lucky they are to be homeschooled.  They are envious that the girls stay up late and sleep in and school only takes a few hours a day.  Winter, unfortunately, is a time when many of the kids around here are not out and about.

She sees her public school friends.  She's gone sledding with them and had sleepovers with them.

I know that A is reading more than she ever did or would have time for if she were in school.  She has discovered a love of reading and books.  She has discovered a love of making things with Fimo clay and has time to devote to that.

If I were to make a list:

Pros of Going Back to School (Cons of Homeschooling)

  1. With kids, forming memories
  2. Learning to deal with difficult kids
  3. Learning to deal with difficult teachers
  4. Opportunities in Band, instruments
  5. Foreign language
  6. Art
  7. Drama
  8. Learn test prep for college, etc.
  9. Get an actual diploma
Cons of Going Back to School (Pros of Homeschooling)
  1. Pressure to keep up, get a cell phone, have the right clothes.
  2. Can't stay up late reading/have to get up early.
  3. Homework/grouchy after school
  4. we get to dictate our own schedule/live by our own rules
  5. learning for mastery/no pressure of big test
  6. quality time together
  7. Girls are their own person/dress and do what feels best for them/not influenced--get to be individuals
  8. Can go to homeschool swim, skate, museums, etc. --more time for those things
  9. I can see if they are understanding something or not and work one on one with them in homeschool
  10. They get to do experiments themselves when they are homeschooled - not watch someone do them
  11. We can make time for foreign language; sign up for outside art classes (although there are also great sites); and find a homeschool drama group; the girls play instruments at coop and deal with difficult kids.
  12. Our values seem more consistent with the values of homeschool parents
  13. With homeschooling they can grow and develop at their own pace, there is no pressure to be so proficient at such a skill at a certain day and time...I feel strongly that my girls will develop all the necessary skills and also be able to be their own, creative, unique person.
  14. When the girls were in school, we looked forward to each day off, weekend, we look forward to every single day.  We go to bed excited for what tomorrow will bring and start the day happy to see where it will take us.  We are no longer wishing the time away...we are enjoying it!
Jason and I decided this needs to be our decision, we need to watch the girls and see how they are doing, if they seem happy.  

My parents agree that the girls seem happy and have promised to tell us if they feel that the girls are not happy or if they feel that the girls are not getting everything that they need.

But for now, homeschooling is working for us...and we will happily continue.