This hasn't been an easy choice. And it hasn't been a quick decision either. It's something my husband and I have discussed for years off and on. There were points where it seemed like the only good decision, like when we were considering a move to Savannah, Georgia, which isn't exactly known for it's awesome school system. It was a consideration when we pondered how our super active younger child, Ansel, would deal with a structured school setting where his every want and desire and urge couldn't be catered to, and there's been considerations for our older son, Kadin, who is gifted, but has a hard time staying focused for various reasons. (I should point out that it has been suggested to us that Ansel is gifted as well, and a lot of his challenges are indicative of those of a young boy who is gifted. He doesn't have problems, just challenges.)
And then Sandy Hook happened, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that brought the discussion up again. It's definitely not the reason, but it's a factor, not gonna lie.
We're also looking to move whenever a job opportunity comes up, and it took Ansel the whole first semester to get even kind of settled in his current school situation. I shudder to think how he would handle a mid-year transfer to a new school and a new class. He knows the current expectations, and he still gets in trouble frequently. He just can't quite contain himself. There's all this energy and spirit balled up in his tiny little person and it just wants out!
First day of school 2012
Over this break, I cobbled together a little makeshift trial curriculum, just to see how things would go. We tried a couple of days of short 'school' sessions, and it went.... well. It'll take some work and some getting used to, and better curriculum options will help a lot. But the boys did really well, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching them figure things out. I enjoyed watching them enjoy what they were learning. Ansel's reading is exploding and he is loving the accomplishments. He wants so badly to read. Kadin and I are diehard readers, and I think the modeling is working on Ansel. He sees that there is this wealth of knowledge and fun in books, and he wants in. Of course I read to him, but he wants access to it even when I can't sit there and work with him. We tried reading these little books with the goal being one a day, and the other evening he just wanted to keep going. He got through five of them before deciding he wanted to move on to something else, and I was so proud of him. But it wasn't a system that would have worked in a formal school setting. A formal setting would have dictated how much time could go into it. And he wouldn't have been allowed to, inch by inch, crawl up onto the table and squirm around and kick and wiggle and flop every which way. But if that gets the words into his brain, all the better! I can put up with the wriggling. A school can't, I get it.
I also realized that Kadin has some major holes in his education. I'm flummoxed, and a little bit disappointed in myself. I hadn't realized how much he didn't know. I was under the ignorant impression that getting As in classes meant that he was learning. I guess not. He did not do anywhere near as well on some evaluations that I gave him as I would have expected. We're going to need to work backwards to try and fill in some blanks. He wants to be a scientist of sorts someday, so he needs a firm foundation in math, and right now I don't think he has that. He also has a lot of scattered interests that I would like to help him delve into.
One problem that I foresee is that we live in a very conservative area. There are homeschooling groups, but they are mostly religion based. I've heard rumor that there are other resources, so I'm going to keep looking and find what I can. I don't worry about socialization. My kids are social to a fault, and it wouldn't hurt them at all to be learning in an environment that doesn't have constant peer distractions. They will not be cut off from the world, we can be quite sure of that.
So, I'm overwhelmed. And I'm confused. And I'm at least a little bit scared. But I'm good with it. It feels right. It'll work ok. And it's not forever. For right now, we're going to finish this school year. Ansel is in kindergarten and Kadin is in fifth grade. We'll re-evaluate at the end of the school year and decide what to do about next year. I'm going to miss my free time. I'm going to miss Ansel's teacher, who has been amazing on every possible level and has really blown every teacher cliche out of the water. I'm going to miss the neighborhood parents I've gotten to know at after-school pick-ups. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was going to miss some of the hands off advantages of having someone else direct my children's day to day education. But really that's a cop out, and I am the parent and I can't let someone else steer the boat down the wrong path.