Saturday, June 09, 2012

School Year Reflections and Projections

On Monday at noon, all my kids will be done with school and home for the summer.

And none of them are going back in the fall.

Not because they had a bad experience with school.  Quite the contrary!  C9 and B7 both did very well in third and first grades.  They made lots of friends.  They loved their teachers.  They learned so much. They loved having art, gym, music, recess, keyboarding and choir. They didn't even mind the bus ride, really.

But they don't want to go back.

In January, they both said they want to be homeschooled next year.  They have continued to enjoy school, but they have stayed firm in the idea that next year, it's virtual school for them.  Apparently they both have good memories of Chicklet's second grade year.  B7 is eager to do what he saw her doing--it will be the same curriculum for him in second grade next year--and she is excited to move up to fourth grade.  She keeps telling me how much more independently she'll be able to work, now that she's reading and writing so well.

When they first latched on to this idea, I was open to it but not sure if I'd be ready!  But as my "sabbatical" continued, I felt more able.  Then their elementary school announced that they would be laying off a dozen teachers, including C8's excellent teacher that we loved.  They would be re-organizing the kids into learning groups by ability, not age, and classes would be much larger.  Not sure if this is a good idea or a bad one, but it sounded like my children would be guinea pigs if they went back next year, and this news was all I needed to push me over the edge. Okay, kids, virtual school it is.  (Wisconsin Virtual Learning, to be exact, with Little Lincoln and Lincoln Interactive curriculum.)

B13, you recall, started out this year in virtual school, struggled with lack of motivation, never did pull it together and found himself in 7th grade in public school for second semester.  He found it much easier and never had any homework (to my disappointment; I was hoping he'd be more challenged).  He made friends, he was well-liked by teachers, and he was Student of the Month in March.  ("No fair," one of his friends said, "You just got here!")  But he, also, insists that he wants to be homeschooled again in the fall.  He wants a second chance at the virtual school, which he thinks is harder, but takes less time. His main objections with the brick-and-mortar school are sleep deprivation and long days of imprisonment, with no free time on days that he has after-school activities.  Plus, next year one of his good friends is going to do the same grade in the same virtual school--eAchieve Academy--so he's sure he'll be much more motivated.

B17 struggles with the virtual school because he just doesn't enjoy academics, and it's hard for him to make himself buckle down.  He dislikes figuring it out and teaching himself. He'd prefer a classroom environment, with a teacher explaining everything step by step. But he knows he's learned a lot from having to read and teach himself, and from having to write so much. And he loves the flexible schedule that he has with virtual school, to run and work out during the day, or make some money at his farm job, or practice guitar, or write songs when the mood strikes. He's decided he wants to do it again next year, for 11th grade.  (Same school--eAchieve.) I am delighted and thankful.  I really pushed him to try homeschooling again, and I was afraid he'd hate me at the end of the year if it didn't go well.  Though he never stopped complaining about it, on the last day he thanked me. He said it's been a great year for him and he's glad he did it.  Rather than hating me, he said he was thankful for how much it had strengthened our relationship!  (Thank you, Lord!) He's been making so many good choices and I am so proud of him.

Blondechick19 and B21 probably merit their own posts, and in the interests of time and space, I'll wrap up here.  I am just so thankful to God that this school year was a good experience for all our kids, and for me, in so many ways.

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