March 11, 2010

I wonder if I can do it...

Well, C & J's friend is back at school this week, after his surgery. I was very happy to see him, and his mom. Her and I have had a couple of wonderful conversations this week. One of which, in combination with other things, have led D & I to thinking about making some very major changes with the boys.

As I believe I've mentioned before, Caroline and I have real issues with the principal at the school. We are not the only ones. It seems there are a lot of parents that don't like him, and even a couple of teachers don't like him. Since he took control, the school has changed drastically, and not for the better. When D & I first began discussing the idea of moving in together, I was adamant that I wanted us to live in this school zone, so that the boys could continue attending this school. Now, I'm not so sure.

The people in the offices have gone from being friendly, happy, kind and always helpful to cold, distant, and acting as though you are interfering with their day by coming into the school. As a parent, I do occasionally have cause to go to the school: a meeting regarding J's speech therapy (more on this later!), the book fair, a question for the teacher regarding homework, a conference to assess how the kids are doing. All valid reasons, in any reasonable person's opinion. But if you come in to this school, they would look at you like you came in and asked what color the sky is.

The kids can't talk in class. Understandable. They are there to learn, to do classwork, and they can't do that if they are chatting away. But now, the dean of discipline has decided they can no longer talk during lunch. Now, parents who homeschool are always told they should send their kids to school so they can socialize. Well...if they can't talk during class, and they can't talk during lunch, when exactly are they going to socialize? On the 5 minute walk to the car?

Caroline and I joked about starting a petition to get the principal removed. It started as a joke anyway. We agreed that with our luck, he'd find out we did it and our kids would be treated even worse. But, when I mentioned it to D, he actually had some really good suggestions for how we can do it and not have the fallout be on our kids. Caroline and I are still discussing and trying to determine if we really want to do this.

Regardless of what we do with that, though, D & I are seriously considering homeschooling the boys starting next year. With as bad as this school has gotten, and being uncertain that any other school would really be any better, homeschooling is sounding more and more like a good option. We can teach the boys on their own schedule, moving them forward or sticking on a topic as needed for them, instead of as needed for the slowest kid in the class, which may or may not be C & J.

Another thought behind this is that I think a large part of C's problem is that he is bored. He is very smart, and I think he just gets bored and doesn't put forth the same effort that he would if he wasn't bored. It's something I used to do. My dad did it as well. So did D. Homeschooling would eliminate this boredom, again because we'd be teaching them at their own individual level.

They would, quite possibly, spend less time in "school" than they do now. All the research I've done so far indicates that most homeschooled kids spend 3-5 hours a day on school related things, as compared to the more than 6 hours that the boys are currently doing, and then still come home and do homework. We would be able to do fun activities that would count as school activities, such as going to the zoo, or a museum, things like that. And we could go on days when everyone else is in school, therefore finding it less busy and more fun for us.

The only real drawback we've found so far is that all indications are that I can't homeschool and work fulltime. D apparently had already realized this, but I had not. I expressed concern that we might not be able to make it on just his income indefinitely, but he says that although it would be tight, we could make it work. I trust him, and I trust his judgment, so I'm going to hope he's right.

So, now, my last hesitation is wondering if I can really do this. Not just if I can teach them the things they need to learn (which I am fairly certain I can; and what I can't cover, D can), but if I can handle basically never having a break from them. Not that I don't love them and love spending time with them. But when they are in school, I get the house clean, laundry done, and some me time. Some time during which I can watch a little TV, read a book, do a word search, play around online, and just relax a bit. That will disappear if I am homeschooling. Granted, they are old enough to help with household chores, and in all honesty, they are probably old enough to do their own laundry (or C is, at any rate). Being a stay at home mom was always my dream, and when I stayed home when C was younger, I loved it. But C was younger. He was cool to just sit on the floor or in his playpen and play with toys while I cleaned up a bit. He took naps, so I had that time to read or watch TV. No more naps, and with two of them, there's always a fight over toys and such.

Fortunately, we still have several months to do more research and discuss it before we make a final decision. I want to make sure we do the right thing. I want the boys to have the best possible education, whether that is from a public school, private school or homeschool. And I don't think that going back and forth between homeschooling and regular school is really going to provide them with the best possible education. We have to decide on one and stick with it for the long haul.

The good news, though, is that yesterday I got a Meeting Participation Form from the school. This is what I usually get at the beginning of the year when we meet to evaluate where J is and what we expect to accomplish this year with his speech therapy. The reason given on this one is change in placement. I'm very hopeful that this means they will tell me he's met all his goals and no longer needs speech therapy. He has made amazing strides over the last year and a half. He still gets overly excited and becomes hard to understand. Or if he cries, you can't really understand him. But in an average conversation, he speaks clearly now.

Things are looking up, all the way around.

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