We took the plunge after returning from Thailand and pulled Zoe out of the base school. She simply wasn’t thriving there, and did so good with homeschool on our trip.
She was tired constantly, grumpy, sad, and disliked going. She complained that there wasn’t enough creative time, or even time to finish regular work (and get to color it) before being dragged to another topic. Not everything was bad, and she told me all the stuff she enjoyed: art, music, Korean, playground, storytime, centers. We struggled with the decision since she is doing above average academically, but in the end we believe that learning should be fun, challenging, and interesting. My creative kiddo just wasn’t getting the best education to fit her needs at school. She probably would have done well enough at a half-day kinder, but that isn’t an option here. In fact, the base school is the only English-speaking option here. No private schools or charter schools or montessori schools or whatever other options people have back home. So, the homeschool group is pretty big!
Her teacher was sooooo understanding and really agreed that she is forced to shove so many lessons into the day it frustrates her as well. She can’t even fit in a calm down / rest time except for 2 days a week. We also talked about Zoe’s age and maturity level. Zoe has the skills, but is quite young in her class and it shows. Bryan and I had briefly thought of holding her back, but her teacher said it’s good we didn’t. She is, afterall, reading and loves math. I showed Zoe’s teacher her journalling and work we did on our trip and her comment was, “why won’t she do that for me!!!?” when looking over Zoe’s incredible drawings. She hadn’t seen that kind of thing from Zoe: she never had enough time. It’s also just that the creativity and music is gone from kindergarten nowadays with additional standards to meet that will supposedly bring American kids up to par with the rest of the world. I’m not buying it. Neither is Zoe (or her teacher). Anyway, she has been aware of Zoe’s ongoing struggle and has been so helpful.
The DoDDs schools do an amazing job of supporting homeschoolers, too. Zoe is still assigned to her classroom and may participate in special events or things in class that the teacher invites us too. Her teacher is still going to let Zoe trade out the books from her progressive reading system and will give us the printout books and worksheets she is using for the week. I’ve told her I’m still going to come in every other week and do an earth science lesson…today I went in and taught about seedlings: we transplanted the class’s into big pots. Zoe can also attend “specials” – those extra classes taught by a different teacher. Lucky for Zoe these are her favorites: art, music, Korean, and PE. She also gets use of the library and can participate in all school-sponsored after school activities, special events, field trips, etc… It’s actually pretty amazing and I’m trying not to feel bad that we didn’t do this earlier when I found out about the homeschool support (around Thanksgiving, just after getting an excellent parent-teacher conference and report card).
So, we homeschool in the morning after waking up when nature (Avi: 730) dictates. After school stuff she gets to do ‘centers’ we setup at home – painting, violin, imaginary play, puzzles & blocks, computer. After lunch she heads in to school for her specials. Avi and I go to the playground or the pool while she is there; it gives us a good hour of focused mommy-boy time. Twice a week she will go for lunch, stay for a story time in class and do specials; so that is 2 hours. Back at home we then have quiet time / nap, and leave mommy alone time. Later we will work again on a project if needed. It’s been great and I’m having fun looking over packaged curriculums and do it yourself options. I’ve already found my resource for unit-based weeks of learning academics focused around a particular theme and classic story, so we are doing that for the remainder of this year. This seems to go well with Zoe’s creative mind wanting everything to work together and we will likely continue it in first grade (if this all works out). But it will be important next year, I think, to make sure she does get some understanding of the different disciplines as essential to know in their own right.
Anyway, thats the big news around here. We’ve been having a great time this first week and I’ve already notice positive differences in her. She has gotten happier, more energetic, and talked to me more (like she used to). In fact, just tonight we had an amazing discussion about nightmares. Apparently, she’s been having some bad ones that could partially explain why she has been so tired. With all her unhappiness, why she never told me about it before kind of makes me sad. Don’t bottle stuff up!