I’m taking a break from being a do-it-all maid for the two sickies in the house, to write a post…which is long overdue.
The schools in my hometown sucked. Actually, they still suck. Almost no funding for anything, no art, no PE, no nothing. The teachers have all been there since the Punic Wars and the administration even longer. There is a rampant drug problem, high dropout rates, and bad test scores.
So, when my parents had to start thinking about my education and later, Bro’s, our hometown school wasn’t their first choice. First, we started off in a private Montessori school one town over. Both Bro and I loved it. I still know several of the kids I went to school with there. But, it only went through 1st grade, and choices had to be made. It was when I was 6 that I first remember the word “homeschooling”. It was used a lot that year. Lots of discussions and even some meetings with other local parents.
But my mom, never long on patience, decided it wasn’t her calling to homeschool us, and they petitioned long and hard for us to have a dispensation to go to the school two towns over (generally a better area). And it’s there I stayed until I graduated high school.
The idea of homeschooling was never far from my parent’s thoughts. It was brought up over the years. I rallied against it, not wanting to leave my friends or the known world of public school. And plus, homeschool kids were weird and socially awkward. Who wanted to be labeled that?
In retrospect, all parties…my parents, me, and Bro have a bit of regret about not going the homeschool route.
Over the years of teaching and taking education classes, I have become more and more a fan of homeschooling. And long before Cadet came along, McRuger and I have both talked about homeschooling our kids.
Why does homeschooling appeal to me? Because I have seen the colossal waste of time that a traditional classroom has. Even the teachers with the best time/class management skills has lulls in teaching, chaotic days, and the teacher’s focus is always fractured. And at the end of the day, especially in early education, not every child is getting his/her needs met. It’s impossible. Yes, some teachers are better at this than others. But the mantra in most teaching classes is: “Teach to the middle”. Meaning, teach to the average student…and if your child falls above or below that…well, that’s where things get tricky.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a teacher, but I saw kids fall through the cracks. Especially, those kids who had exceptional talent or special needs.
Over the last 8 months of dealing with Cadet’s diagnoses and therapies, homeschooling has come up again and again in my conversations with McRuger. The public schools in our area are decent, but generally have high drug/violence rates. We have several private schools nearby, but they are quite expensive and hard to get into.
Here’s the problem….Cadet will most likely always be dealing with some effects of sensory integration. He will be, most likely, the fidgety kid in class. He will probably need to chew on something (gum, candy, carrots, pencil topper, chew toy) during the day. He will probably need frequent breaks for jumping, running, crashing, and spinning. He will need to sit in the front, to avoid aural distractions. And most likely, he will still have at least some minimal speech issues.
While all of his therapists/teachers agree that Cadet is quite smart with an exceptional memory, a mainstream class would not meet his sensory needs easily. And being labeled “weird” by other classmates is something I would like to avoid. Even with an IEP or special understandings with his teachers, it would mean that I (and Cadet) would always be struggling to get his needs met on a daily basis.
Being in a private school would be easier, but most of the private schools around here start at 15-20k for kindergarten. Yes….15k for kindergarten! And yes, we might be able to afford that kind of money for upper grade school/high school…but not for k-5th.
It’s incredible how many resources there are for homeschooling parents these days. Collectives, online curriculums, support groups, play groups, online forums, facebook pages/groups, and local meet ups.
And it’s mind boggling how many types of homeschooling there are: unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, Waldorf, Principle Approach, Unit Studies, and more. And within each type, there are sub-types with small variances. Since we’re not the typical demographic of a homeschooling family (conservative, Christian, and living in a rural area), a lot of options didn’t make much sense for us.
I’ve spent much of my free time over the last 5 months or so, looking into homeschooling curriculums and mulling over the different types. I have read books (I’m up to at least 5 now), articles, blogs, talked to various people I know who homeschool, chatted up a local homeschool co-op director, and had more than one lengthy conversation with my husband. I mentally debated the positives and negatives of every type of homeschooling variety I could find. I made a list of what I wanted Cadet to learn and what I wanted him to experience. I made a list of his needs, his talents, and his weaknesses….and then I just kept reading.
And, about a month ago, everything clicked. I was talking to DrM (Cadet’s OT) about Cadet’s needs in a given day. Cadet craves a rhythm to his day and he loves being outside. He needs calm, despite his love of motion. He likes music, poems, and spending time doing small tasks (like helping me sweep). And there it was…it was like I felt (rather than knew) which direction I wanted to go in….Waldorf Education.
I have known about Waldorf Education for a while, having read about it in more than one of my education classes. I had always been drawn to it and even commented to a few friends how someday I was going to be a Waldorf teacher. But, for some reason, it just hadn’t clicked with me that it would be right for Cadet until that moment.
Waldorf focuses on simplicity and a movement away from technology/modern convenience. Waldorf education is based on a developmental approach that addresses the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of the growing child. It promotes wholeness by bringing together body, mind, and spirit. Waldorf is said to “transform education into an art that educates the whole child”.
Soon I’ll go into the changes that I’ve started making in our home….but right now, Cadet needs to get up from his nap and McRuger needs lunch.