21 Mar 2010

Trying School

Lady and Thomas were taken by their dad to visit the local Integrated primary school last Tuesday and both liked it so much that they decided they would go to try it out. So after I spoke on the phone with the school principal, we've arranged that they will start this Thursday so they go for a couple of days before the Easter break. I'll be visiting the school myself tomorrow morning to look around and meet with the P4 and P7 teachers to talk about what they do and to tell them about my children.

Lady's decision came as a complete shock; she announced a few days ago she wanted to visit the school with the others. She had previously always been adamant when questioned that she was not at all interested in going back to school for the foreseeable future. But she just realised that she wants to try out primary school again before she's too old. So, fair enough, off she goes.

Thomas has been thinking for a while about going to school for the first time in his life. He'd originally said he'd start next autumn term so we could all enjoy the summer together instead of being stuck in a classroom for the few months we have a year when the weather is half decent. But after seeing the school he changed his mind and wants to go right away.

We're trying to decide how best to arrange how to travel to and from school. It's one stop away from here on the train and they could easily manage to travel there and back together but I have a notion that wouldn't be allowed by the train company; unaccompanied minors etc. They could walk, cycle or use a scooter and go along the coastal path. Or I could copy almost all the other parents and drive them there.

I hope they enjoy this experience. I still think home education is a better way for children to learn; school is so very inefficient and takes up such a huge portion of children's lives, especially when you consider that even after they have spent almost all day in school, they then have homework to do. I don't know how the children will manage all their activities; Tuesday - Thomas has gymnastics then jujitsu, Wednesday - they both do gymnastics, Thursday - Lady has 2 gymnastics classes and Thomas goes to Beavers, Friday - Lady goes to the local youth club and the gymnastics coach told me yesterday she wants Thomas to start a class on Fridays soon, Saturday - Thomas does jujitsu and hurling and Lady has cheer leading, Sunday - Thomas does gymnastics. How are they going to have time to spend with their family, go to school, do homework, continue their sports and activities, play and hang out with friends, chill out and read/watch tv/learn an instrument/master a computer game/draw a picture/write a letter or blog post? How does everyone manage without bursting from the pressure?

I do want them to enjoy it and to gain from the experience. They are free to remain at school if they so choose, but if, having given it a good couple of months, they decide they want to be home educated again then they will be deregistered. This is not now the most straightforward of manoeuvres as some of the education boards are trying to fool parents wanting to home educate that legislation exists (it doesn't) to prevent the deregistration process.

I am keen to know exactly what they make of the whole thing, and think that for Thomas especially, he'll either love it or hate it. I don't expect him to merely tolerate it. Lady only wants to go for one term but she may discover that she wants to go on to secondary school too in which case I will have to try to find a place for her in one of the schools not requiring a pass on the transfer test.

I'll be here for them no matter what and boost them and help them know what they need and how to get it. Duncan and I will have more time together and that's always nice, though he may be going to school some time soon himself. Until he does (if he does) he's going to miss his siblings terribly.


AnnB said...

Such a big step for all of you. I hope it works out in a way that enhances all your lives - whether that be in or out of school. I know how hard it is to trust their beautiful minds to the rules of others. Best of luck!

farmwifetwo said...

School is a personal choice. Whether to go or keep them home. Mine still enjoy school... I've managed for the most part to protect them from the mess that comes with dealing with the system.

Saying that, I'm moving my youngest from being integrated to a special ed classroom - I'm not happy about it either. Started the battle the beginning of Dec, paperwork is finally finished and next meeting Mar 29th. It'll take me until Sept to get this finished and I have yet to see the classroom, talk to the staff etc.

I don't wish to homeschool. I "after" school, "weekend" school, whatever you want to call it and it works for us. If I had to, I will. The day they hate going, the day they stuff my youngest into a "life skills" class... We'll be homeschooling full time.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.... :) There's not real answer and in the end... you know, they know, they can always be taught at home once more.

Jax said...

Can I congratulate you on being the kind of parent who is recognising and supporting their children's wishes? Because it has to be an upheaval for you, and possibly one not entirely welcome.

Sharon McDaid said...

@AnnB thanks for your kind hopes. It is a big step but I think we'll eventually find a new rhythm that works. It's not so much a worry of trusting their minds to others, for I am happy to have other people teach them all sorts of things, and I still think that I'll be able to influence them to value learning how to think and reason. I am more concerned that the school system is so constrained and regulated, so intent on ticking boxes and not expanding minds, so tightly controlled from on high that brilliant teachers have to contend more with proving standards than reaching children.

@farmwifetwo, I will also be sure to continue to teach the children myself by talking and engaging with them and helping them continue with what they're interested in. It does help to know this is not necessarily forever and the home based education option remains if needed.

@Jax aw thanks. It is an upheaval and will take a while for all of us to get used to this new way of life. You're right too, it's not all welcome but unlike most children who are in schools, at least they did get to choose their education provision.

kristina said...

I liked much how you said you'll 'be here for them no matter what'; that there's more than one option open to them, and they can choose the one best suited to them. Hope the transition goes smoothly for all.

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Kristina, well it's our role to be here for them no matter what! You're well experienced on that yourself. I visited the school today and met with the 2 class teachers for almost an hour and feel more confident that the transition will be handled with care and that they will be well supported by the school. I think they'll enjoy the experience.