Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Applying oneself

Well, we're heading off to a new adventure. The name of our new adventure is "private school".

I know, it sounds so...elitist. Private school. It brings to mind uniforms, sports cars, and luxury vacations. Well, let me just say that we didn't win the Mega Millions and our private school is rather more modest. Much more modest.

As you know, we've always done some version of homeschooling. Some on-line curriculum, a few outside classes. Our oldest did spend one semester in public school after years of asking when we let her go the last half of 4th grade. She liked it, got along just fine, learned she has a competitive streak, and decided it wasn't worth missing Disney World to go back the next year.

But now that same child is headed to 8th grade. Her work is getting harder and longer, requiring more...well, work...on the part of student and teacher. Her grades are slipping because she doesn't have anyone else around pushing her to stay on top. I'm having to relearn things like irrational numbers and the names and achievements of Spanish explorers. She complains that she doesn't have many friends (she has more than I do) and she wants to participate in school sports and activities. I complain that I spend half my time hauling her around to classes and activities and to hang out with her friends.

So we're mixing things up a bit and applying to a really neat little school nearby. It's a university-model school and she'll be taking the 4 basics - English, math, science, and history, plus 2 electives - band and either logic or world geography. The school also has sports and clubs and special speakers and chapel. The cool part is that the upper school (7-12) only meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, leaving the other 2 days for working at home and some of the fun parts of homeschooling like field trips and Community Bible Study.

K is very excited about the possibilities for next year. Excited enough to write an application essay and go through 2 editing cycles without complaint. Speaking of the application, I've decided that it's not the cost that keeps people out of private school; it's the application process. Informational meetings, interviews, recommendations, essays, and a stack of paperwork that requires research and thoughtful responses to open-ended questions. The application packet is finally ready to go after a long weekend of gathering and grading. Can you believe that they wanted an actual report card? Sheesh!

I have to admit that I'm excited about next year, too. K will be in school where someone else has to worry about teaching her why 2+2 could equal anywhere from 3 to 5 and she'll have the opportunity to do some neat things. And then there's L. Next year is 3rd grade, a pivotal year in a child's education and she and I will be doing it together at home. She has asked for a more interactive curriculum with projects and activities. I've always had her on a video program where she watches her classes and does her work, and it's worked well as her test scores attest, but we're going to try me teaching and focusing on her this next year. We'll use the BJU books for math and language arts and probably for science, but we'll supplement that with frequent classes at the local nature center. History will be more focused on unit studies and projects, such as creating lap books. We're also planning to begin piano lessons and continue with dance and Community Bible Study, so she will be plenty busy next year.

After all that work, today is an "off" day - the application packet goes off to the school, the kids go off on a field trip with the nature center, and teacher mom gets the day off of grading and applying and planning for next year. Now, what to do with myself?

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