By the end of this week, I’ll be mailing off the applications for the charter school(s) I hope TLE will attend. After that, it’s up to luck. Leaving my daughter’s academic chances up to lottery makes me sick to my stomach but that’s our reality. Seeing as we’ve already had ridiculous luck getting first into her developmental nursery school and then a preschool scholarship, I’m not finding myself too optimistic about the odds that lightning can strike thrice. Not that I would complain if it were to happen but it’s just not something I can hope for.
The remaining options are public school and homeschooling, both of which I’m taking under consideration and have been for some time. It’s not a decision I am making lightly and frankly, I have my reservations about both.
The local elementary school is less than a mile away and has a great playground. If nothing else, it would make a nice walk twice a day. As far as academics go, however, it makes me nervous. Our school district is not one of the best. As far as our local school, last year’s CST scores for the 2nd graders were as follows:
- State Average: 58% (2012)
- Local School: 40% (2012)*
* This is down from 44% in 2011, average of 42.28% from 2006 to 2012
- State Average: 64% (2012)
- Local School: 46% (2012)*
* This is down from 52% in 2011, average of 51% from 2006 to 2012 but with a sharp decline (57% to 40%) between 2009 – 2011
I know standardized tests aren’t everything but a school that can’t get the simple majority of their 2nd graders to pass is worrisome. To be fair, the scores get better (60th percentile) around 5th grade but this gives me little comfort.
There’s a local parenting list that I asked about the particular school. One person gave me a positive recommendation for the school; the caveat is that she works there, rather than being a parent with a child in the school. Still, I’m glad to have a perspective on it. I do plan on taking her advice and talking to the principal about my concerns as a prospective parent. Most of the other parents either recommended the charter(s) or informed me about the various homeschooling choices.
Homeschooling is a tricky proposition and may as well be a a dirty word, depending on who you’re talking to. If I’m to listen to the naysayers, I’m dooming TLE to a life of social awkwardness and academic failure by coddling her and opting for homeschool.
I like the idea the freedom that homeschool has. We could set our own schedules, not having to be beholden to an alarm clock. We could do schoolwork wherever we wanted to — home, the park, getting ice cream. With The Hubs ™ working from home most days now, we’d be together as a family a lot. I know there’s several options, from predetermined homeschool curriculums to online charters but the idea of creating a a curriculum that’s totally tailored to TLE really appeals to me. I’ve seen how she thrives with lots of one on one attention. I love the idea of her growing up understanding that learning isn’t — and should never be — confined to a place called “school” and that her home is a place to learn new things.
And dude — vacation whenever we want? How awesome would that be?
But I’m also realistic. Seeing that she’s been in a school environment since she was 2 years old, homeschooling her would be taking her away from what she knows. We’re not part of a church or any other group that has regular (read: weekly) gatherings of kids her age. Any peer socialization will have to come from a homeschool group which means I have to facilitate it. In fact, I’ll have to facilitate everything. Whether I’m choosing curriculum or use a charter, the majority — if not all of it — of the responsibility falls upon me. If we go the homeschooling route, this becomes our life.
Plus, TLE is intense. From the moment she wakes up to when she falls asleep, she’s on at about volume 15 when most kids are at volume 6 most of the day. To exacerbate things, she’s an only child. She has only us (Mommy and Daddy) to ping off of most of the day and she vastly prefers me. She would literally prefer to spend her entire day sitting on me with my arms wrapped around her as she does everything. And when she doesn’t get that, she’s either climbing on me and/or up the walls. Meanwhile, I need my solitude to regroup, especially after she’s been bouncing off the walls. Sometimes she doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Maybe it will get better as she gets older but after asking around among other homeschoolers with intense kids, it’s an uphill battle that tends to end with learning how to live with it.
If she doesn’t win a place at the charter, we have a really difficult decision ahead of us. Who knows? The school experience is way more than just test scores and despite the low test scores the school has now, it may improve in the future. Plus many people have pointed out that I can always supplement at home. But I can’t help but think I’d have to spend time deprogramming her from school and what a waste it is to have to reinforce ideas that should have been grasped in the classroom.
Homeschooling has its allure but that’s when it’s done right. And whoever does something right the first time out? Plus it’s such a huge endeavor — it’s like making the decision to have a family all over again. Plus, there’s the looming thought that I may just be screwing her up. What if the naysayers are right and to homeschool her is to doom her?
Sometimes it feels like we’ll never be able to make the “right” decision.