a new thing

January 5, 2010

Well, today marked our first day in the homeschooling realm.  I think it went well but I’ll save our daily progress for later posts.  I’m still getting my feet wet and figuring it all out.  What I want to do, first, is tell you why we took the plunge into homeschooling in the first place.

Jonathan, our elder son, began kindergarten last August at our local public school.  It’s in a great location – just a block away from our home.  The teacher he was assigned seemed nice enough but we were on our guard since we’d heard negative things about her from a family in our church.  “Let’s give her a chance,” I said, “before we complain.”

Well, the SECOND day of school his teacher greeted me at the door by saying, “Jonathan missed 17 of his letters!”  She told me that he needed to learn and practice them because the children would be tested on them.  I was in shock.  Already, on the second day my child was behind?  My husband and I first had the reaction of drilling Jonathan on his letters but after a few days of this we paused.  Was this the right course of action?  Should we be freaking out about this at his tender age?  So we backed off. 

A week later I was greeted with the same concern and a sheet of paper with all the letters, upper and lower case that Jonathan had missed when tested.  At this point, I decided to meet with her and express my concern.  She apologized and said she just wanted to inform me how my child was doing so I didn’t feel out of touch.  Hmmmm.  Also, at this point my husband met with the principal to express his concern.  We promised to give her another chance.

Well, time passed.  Jonathan seemed happy enough.  Sure there were some problems with a little girl in the class being disruptive and making others feel excluded.  Sure Jonathan got more checks than stars and smiley faces.  But when I finally got a peek in the classroom my eyes were opened to how little Jonathan was really able to learn there.

The activity she’d planned was to have the children write about a craft they had made – an Indian face.  The children were to figure out what they wanted to write, sound it out, and write it.  So, then 20 children were sent to their tables to do this.  Imagine!  Twenty children all wanting to write something different, all wanting to use different words, all needing help sounding them out.  Some of them didn’t even know how to write all the letters!  I sat at a table of three  children and was overwhelmed helping them.  I watched as my son started trying his best but in the chaos just whipped out whatever he could, not caring what he wrote or how.  As the children were told to finish up and put their papers in their cubbies, one little girl came up to me with a totally blank paper and asked me to help!  Was this how my child was being educated?  I couldn’t believe that this was effective?  No wonder Jonathan came home with papers I couldn’t read and papers half done.

Shockingly there was more.  The children were tasked with another writing project.  Each child was given five feathers and told to write what they were thankful for on each feather.  These feathers were to be glued onto a paper crown.  Having to leave at this point, I didn’t see the chaos that ensued but after school I made a point of looking at Jonathan’s feathers.  The words were unreadable and he couldn’t tell me what he’d written.  He didn’t remember.  I saw children from another class with the same head pieces only they had been allowed to DRAW what they were thankful for.  This made me stop and think.  Was Jonathan’s teacher really interested in helping him learn?  Did she have the skills?  Could I do better?

Well, I could go on and on and on about the little things that popped up after that.  But I won’t.  You don’t need to hear me list every little grievance against one teacher.  The result, though, was that we decided his teacher was just not providing a learning environment that worked for Jonathan.  We met with the principal of his school and told her of our decision to homeschool.  I think she was relieved that we didn’t come in there demanding a new teacher.  I’m pretty sure we weren’t the only ones who have had difficulty with this teacher.  I’d heard at least two other mothers who were unhappy with her for their own reasons. 

So, here we are . . . a new thing for a new year.  The crazy thing is that I don’t even have my “curriculum” yet.  I wanted to start homeschooling the same time he would have returned to school.  Unfortunately the books I’d ordered didn’t arrive in time.  Until they do I’m just winging it.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe not.  We’ll see.

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