Over the past few weeks there have been two things on my mind. One of which has been SCHOOL. Specifically Braden's school, plans for school, education, quality of education, un-schooling at home, private school, kindergarten etc etc etc.

When we thought we were moving I had plans to send Braden to kindergarten in Little Rock next fall. Then I thought, okay well he will just go to kindergarten here in Abilene.

But a few weeks ago I was sitting outside his classroom door waiting for school to be out. I was watching the other preschool class boys running around the common yard playing freeze tag. The boys seemed so much older than Braden. Class let out and on a whim I pulled Braden's teacher over. I asked her what she thought of Braden's readiness for next year. She said that she hadn't done her testing with him yet but she thinks he would benefit from an extra year. She talked about his speech (nothing is wrong per se... but he is a bit slower than others). We also talked about social maturity.

Of course I went home and got on the Internet and started reading everything I could about "red shirting" which is the practice of parents holding the boys back a year to give them a leg up at school. I read about 'readiness' and how that really is a subjective term depending on socioeconomic level, where they are living (state regulations) and skill level of the child.

I talked to everyone I could get my hands on. My peers, my neighbors, other teachers about what they thought about the situation, what they are doing or did with their kids. Most people were FOR holding him back (I prefer to say, start late) and the more I talked to people the more I discovered that EVERYONE is holding their boys back. Which means Braden wouldn't have a leg up over his classmates, but that he would be right on par with them.

I even found a transitional kindergarten class for next year (here in Abilene) that has all summer born boys enrolled.

I learned that I could have Braden tested by the public school here. With the exit testing from his preschool combined with the entrance testing by the public school I hope it will give me a better sense of where Braden is 'at'.

I not only have to think about whether or not Braden is ready for kindergarten this year...but whether or not he will be ready for first grade a year from now. Or will he be ready for high school at a new 14 or college at barely 18. How will middle school play out with him being the youngest and possibly the smallest kid. The decisions I make now aren't all about now... they are about the next 13 years.

With each whisper of where we might be moving to next I start looking at school options and with each school option (and by option I mean different public schools) all I hear is how bad public school is. 13 years is a long time to be a part of that institution.

I used to think homeschooling was a bad thing to do. I feel that when I was a kid, school was a place where people could teach you something. Teachers had credentials and experience under their belts. The classes were small and hands on. There was no fundraising or forced attendance.

So I am terrified to send my kid out into an institution that will not be a benefit to him, but on the other hand I feel like I am woefully inadequate to teach him at home. I've been reading about classical education and the first graders sound smarter than me.

Do we do private school? PreK in Las Vegas is $8,100 Montessori in Little Rock is $4,000 the transitional kindergarten we found here is $2,730 (totally do-able no question).

Then there are all these other things I hear about public schools... how they have to answer to the state and federal government - standardized testing, how they are really set up to groom kids to be 'good citizens' of the nation ( I have some issues with the pledge of allegiance (no... not the God part), that history and facts are skewed and don't provide the whole picture (Thanksgiving for example) the fundraising (where they make kids peddle crappy products and if they refuse they are looked down upon) and basically how most grown-ups in the system don't really listen to kids.

I know at some point when we move I will have to make a final decision... for now we are okay: I've secured Braden's spot at the Transitional Kindergarten for next year and from there he can go to regular kindergarten or right on to 1st grad... that makes me feel good.

But the cloud of doubt keeps following me around, dropping random drops of rain on my head as if to taunt me.

Oh, did I mention the vaccination requirements differ from state to state? Ridiculous - this is totally stressing me out.

interesting article regarding readiness: http://www.asac.ab.ca/BI_spring02/soonlate.html

the pledge of allegiance humble beginnings: http://rexcurry.net/saying-the-pledge-of-allegiance-pictures.html

not on the test: http://planetsprogblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/not-on-test.html

one more from spogblog - a great discussion regarding gifted and talented classes and their effects on students: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5779841&postID=1968858961336922329

the video that really started all of this thinking!http://juliakstewartsblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/animal-school.html

1 comment:

Anne said...

We continue to have many discussions about school too. Private (which we can't afford unless I go back to work), public, and homeschooling (which is far from cheap!). We have decided for now that we will give public school kindergarten a go, and see what happens.

The whole 'this decision will matter not just today, but for the next 15 years' thing makes this so difficult. By difficult, I mean terrifying!

I'm going to keep praying about it, and I know God will lead us to the right place.

PS - My fabulous cheap finds were from the S14th Goodwill!