Wednesday, September 8, 2010

School!

Converted our front closet into a uniform closet for the four children. I didn't want any mornings running looking for outfits!



Eska playing with puppets at the library with just Mama




Me and Eska, just dropped the kids off, all up and out and dressed in the world at 8 am!


My sweethearts in their darling uniforms (of course all untucked) on their first day at their new school! Grades 7, 1, 4 and Kindergarten!



Here I sit, at the computer, in a silent house. My little Eska is 2 now, and asleep in her crib. My oldest four children are all at their first full day of their new school. If you haven't read for a while, and I know I haven't written forever, they all got into a charter Montessori K-8 school about 13 miles away. Yesterday was the first day, but only 1/2 a day and today is a full day.

Charlie is going to be 5 in November, and I had no idea if sending this still nursing little fellow who just learned to go potty this summer away to all day school! Seems like the perfect candidate for waiting a year...except that he was really ready. He knows his letters, numbers, and has a deep desire to wake up and start having some kind of wonderful activities. He wants a back pack and a lunch box and all that stuff. So I took the risk, he also had a kindergarten test (!so silly!) and off he went.

Casey turned 7 this summer and yet I still wanted to put him in first grade. I spoke with the principal about it and she said it would be beyond fine. I told her he couldn't/doesn't read yet and she said that first grade would be just right. But this school does mixed age classrooms, and he is in Lower Elementary, which is grades 1, 2 and 3. They keep their teachers for three years as part of the Montessori approach, which sounds so so nice even though I admit not knowing all about it all yet. Casey has ADHD and we have started going to a family therapist. I have not told the school anything yet nor have I asked for any kind of IEP even though the therapist is really into that. I have been very busy with all that went into getting them all geared up for this start of school and honestly would just like to see how it goes. Maybe a little part of me thinks he will just "be good" and everything will be fine...or maybe I didn't want him labeled, not yet anyhow...time will tell.


Mickey is 10 and we put him in 4th grade. He will be 10 the entire school year and I know this is the right level for him. His is called Upper Elementary and is grades 4, 5 and 6. He got a male teacher who is mister young and fun and this was PERFECT for Mickey. When we had open house/meet the teacher night, Mickey chose to wear a Mario Brothers shirt and Mister Teacher was like "Hey dude, I Love Mario!" I could have fallen down and kissed the floor for the relief and amazement of him not getting ole crabby lady teacher who thinks video games are "bad for kids" or whatnot. Another subject for another day, but we have a boy here who has hundreds of YouTube videos of himself beating levels on his games, who learned to read before he was 4 from Gran Turismo, and who will most likely grow up to design the next best thing that YOUR kids are playing, so, Mister Teacher being young fun hip handsome dude liking Mario was way cool.

Greta is 13 and we put her in 7th grade. She will be 13 the entire school year and we discussed this all with her. This gives her 2 years at the school instead of one, and more of a chance at the math we have so desperately lost our way with. To put it nicely. Her teacher is a cool fun woman who loves Greta and is all into her art already. Their class is going on a field trip overnight camping and seems like a bunch of really cool nice fun kids.
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Our homeschool-- did it fail? Yes. And it is okay to fail! I got into it a little with a woman on facebook who was trying to valiantly stop women from bashing themselves and trying to talk me out of the word "Fail", and also taking this whole homeschooler sending kids to school thing a bit personally as I believe she homeschooled briefly for a time and feels a bit defensive about it all? But yes, our homeschool failed. In what ways? Do I need to hide behind the bland facade of "We are entering new horizons this year", must I use forced P.C. terms that feel awkward in my mouth, just to appease everybody? Or can I just say it failed?

By the time we had Eska, my vision for what I wanted homeschool to be was decimated. Ruined. Never even came close for like 4 years. Even taking into account that whole thing of Kids Don't Care About Your Dreams, Just Love And Accept The Person They Are...no. and I will tell you why:

Because I hold education in highest regards and I do believe we can learn all the time but that as a mother I had only a few years to set them on a path that would enrich them for a lifetime.

Because I only wanted to do this to give them a WAY better education than school could.

Because I don't like unschool. I understand it, and I have seen firsthand it work and also seen first hand it fail, but I don't like it.

Because I poured over Charlotte Mason till my eyes were red.

Because I poured over Karen Andreola till my eyes were burgundy.

Because I wanted English For The Thoughtful Child and Well Trained Mind and A Literary Education.

Because I wanted nights looking through telescopes, and a purse full of Bird Guides, Field Guides, Flower guides and dog eared Poetry books.


Because I wanted pianos and violins, french and knitting.


Because I wanted them to know us by name at the library.


Because I wanted homemade soaps, candles, and pies made from garden fruits.


Because I wanted hand built by the children rabbit hutches and a laying hen.


Because I wanted to can vegetables and use only herbs as our medicine.


Because I wanted to read to my children, snuggled under heirloom quilts, smelling their sweet hair as they drifted to sleep to the softly blowing windchimes tinkling from the clothesline.

Because I feel hard in love with every image the homeschooling homebirthing magazines and websites in the early 2000's painted for me.


And it just didn't work. I could not make any of these things happen. I just really couldn't. And I also couldn't come to terms with it. And try as I did to flex and adjust, flex and adjust, flex and adjust, it got to the point where I had screaming fighting boys who "hate to read", "Cant" write, "hate" pianos, never seen a violin, couldn't be trusted to feed the dog ever let alone care for chickens, use hammers to break stuff, "hate" French, forgot how to knit on the way home from knitting class, and say things like "I only hate grocery store food. I like taco bell and ummm candy"


Greta didn't behave this way but was becoming depressed. Needing friends and finding very few in our homeschooling circles. Seems like it was all little kids. When her girl scout troop split up it was a sad day. She tried another troop but it never really clicked and she disliked the leader and the time frame of it. I feel like she saw me struggling and felt bad for me and angry at her brothers and also wanted to escape it all. She benefited enormously from being homeschooled for 13 years and I do not regret it at all. Her self Esteem is strong and healthy. she got to spend a very special year last year going through big life changes such as getting her period in a a lot of books and resting and reflecting and reading and her art is amazing. She is a well formed person who I felt good about sending off to school.


Baby Eskarina...oh I never wanted you to see so much badness, so much wildness, so much rudeness. Brothers who taunt you, tease you, beat each other, throw things, scream all day. And yet you are as cherubic and sassy as any 2 year old, and one quick peek at the vhs collection will show that Greta was the same way at your age "No! No! No!" so I cant blame the brothers tooooo much for your wonderful normal-ness. But I am happy to get this chance to raise you in a sweet happy quiet home now.

Mickey, Casey, Charlie, I think they will really benefit from this nice school. It seems extremely progressive, dynamic, and fun. They need to take a break from each other, to meet some age mates, and to work!

Eska and I have a nice year ahead of us. And yeah, I'm gonna try to IMPOSE my classical music and poetry and healthy food on her, you better believe it!


That's our update...Ill be writing lots more now! Love you all,

MamaJoy


13 comments:

Rini said...

It sounds like you are doing so much better. Your whole voice has changed! I'm so happy for you, and look forward to reading more.

Rixa said...

It's so nice to hear from you again! You're lucky to have charter schools even as an option. We have 1 school system where I live, no charters, no other choices, and the school is pretty mediocre in a town that generally doesn't care about education.

Enjoy Birth said...

It sounds like you made the best choice for your family. Education is such a challenging thing. I agree, I love the idea of homeschooling, but practically it doesn't work for my family.
I just found out about a charter school near me and it is intriguing. I am hoping there will be a spot for them this fall. They are waiting to see how many kids show up for the first few days until we will know.

MamaVee said...

I am so glad that you, and all your beautiful children are well. I have noticed the silence on your blog and often wondered how you are doing - even though you are just a stranger on blogland, you gave me a window into your life the last few years and you feel like a kindred spirit - just across the interwebs.

sending lots of love your way.

MamaVee said...

I am so glad that you, and all your beautiful children are well. I have noticed the silence on your blog and often wondered how you are doing - even though you are just a stranger on blogland, you gave me a window into your life the last few years and you feel like a kindred spirit - just across the interwebs.

sending lots of love your way.

Stassja said...

Hugs Joy! I am really excited for you for the school year. It sounds amazing. I've only got the two boys but my stress levels right now...I don't see homeschooling work. But I don't see Ray doing well with public school. I really want to get them into montessori or waldorf. Or a VERY heavy duty co-op lol. We'll see. I have a few years to figure it out at least.

I'm proud of you. :) You fail gracefully!

jakesask said...

Glad to see a new post from you! Always curious to hear about what's happening. Also good to see that you found a cool school for your kids--I live where there's one school and one school only (the school I went to).

Your list of reasons for homeschooling feels familiar. My daughter is only 2.5 but I want to homeschool . . . however, I feel doubts about it because I know that many of my other ideals about parenting haven't really worked out. Babywearing, buying only wooden toys, not watching tv, eating only organic, and EC were all failures for me, so maybe I shouldn't undertake education! Your post made me feel a bit better about all this, actually. Sometimes we have to accept that we can't do what we thought we could. Seems like you've found a good alternative.

BlogBlond said...

welcome back to cyberspace! i've missed reading about your family. hope this year is a great one- BB

Mama to Monkeys said...

Good for you, Mama Joy. It sounds like there may be an infusion of joy into your lives at the perfect time.

Michelle said...

It sounds like a very successful failure! Homeschooling/unschooling/schooling are all fine ways for kids to grow, live and learn. The whole "point" of education, really, is to allow children to become more of "themselves" and it is the wise parent who sees deeply into herself, and her children, to understand what is needed now, today, for her children to thrive. The idea is to have kids that are healthy, whole and happy; it sounds to me like that's exactly where everyone is at now and that's a grand thing. Well done!

Corin said...

A beautiful failure. Life is full of them...all that bring us to the beautiful successes :)

Happy to read about your life again Joy.

{{hugs}}

SolaceMama said...

I think you did a fine job at failing. You tried. Some worked, some didn't. You did not like the results, so you went on to the next phase. Bravo! Sounds like a very good mama to me. ;)

Kelly said...

Just read your FB update and I look forward to a follow up post on leaving school - please say you'll write one!!!