Sunday, June 2, 2013
We made it! I am so looking forward to having my kids home again and to get back to our awesome curriculum and home life. So how did it go? How did the kids do? Do they prefer homeschool or public school? What did they like the most, what did they like the least? So let's start with #1, she just finished 8th grade. She was the most excited to go, and really needed to see what school is like, what kind of experience most people here in Utah have. She loved it. She made some good friends. Two of her teachers told her that they saw her progress from being a bit shy and reserved to being more outgoing and participatory. That made her feel good because she really hated it when people told her she was quiet-- her response to that became "no, I'm just thinkactive." And over the semester she became more talkative too. She was great about getting up everyday and getting all her assignments and reading done. She was also picked to be a soloist in her orchestra which she loved. She enjoyed watching the student news from CNN in her US History class. She loved science, she and a friend built a Rube Goldberg machine and got 3rd place. She learned a lot in drama and in creative writing and English. She got an A in math, even though she still doesn't like it much (her brain doesn't like being sooo exact). Actually she got straight As a 4.0 which we were surprised- we thought she had an A- in math, but then she got a certificate for a cumulative 4.0, so we'll see on the official transcript. So yeah, the girl rocked junior high! What she didn't like was PE and annoying kids mostly boys who would make the teachers' jobs extremely difficult. She was also very disappointed that most the other members of her orchestra were not nearly as excited as she was about practicing and doing well. She also wished the classes were a little more demanding. But it was a ton of fun! She prefers public school because more than anything else she liked being with other kids. My take-- I'm glad she liked it, I wish she hadn't liked it sooooo much though. I think she does recognize the value of her education thus far and I think her wondering mind of what would it be like? has been answered. In Utah there are few junior high to high school aged homeschoolers and there are a lot of good people out here so the schools are not scary yet, although I'm not sure how common core may change that at least academically. In Utah once the kids reach junior high, the best option may be public school because they need friends and some external validation at that age, and the schools can provide that. It was really good for our kids to see that when they did the homework studied and did well on the test-- basically fulfilled the requirements of the class, then they got a good grade. That has not always been the case in other organizations in which they have participated. If we were to stay here, I would have her at least take a couple classes at the local school. Utah is really good about part time enrollment. #2 also rocked 6th grade. Her teacher loved her and wished all her students could be like her. Everything was very easy for her and she loved all the extra projects and homework. She did them all on her own on time. I don't think I helped her with a single thing except to sign stuff. I liked the quote book she brought home, I liked the books the teacher read to them and I liked that she would play classical music and broadway musical scores for the class at different times. I think she learned some interesting things in social studies and science. Battle of the Books was another awesome program in which she also excelled. She made some good friends too and really tried to help anyone in the class or on the playground who might need it. She got to play her ukulele and sing for 2 talent shows. She got participate in a host of "advancement" parties and activities and a field trip. She also got straight As and earned the Presidential Academic Award and the Hope of America Award which was given to 1 boy and 1 girl in each 6th grade class. The only thing she disliked about school was one annoying boy who would bug her and touch her even though she tried to keep far away from him and the teacher talked to him-- he bugged everybody. Her absolute favorite thing was access to the library without having to rely on me to get her there. She was the least excited to go to school and would have been fine doing homeschool the whole time. She really liked it though and enjoyed that sense of belonging and community she had by going and also being recognized for her good work. My take-- bless this child! She really appreciates homeschool. If given the choice she would just go to junior high for a couple classes and do the rest at home. She sort of would like to go to junior high to see what it is like and her friends really wanted her to go, but she just told them that we won't let her because she needs to study Latin and formal logic. She is the least affected by social cues and what others think. She's just kind of in her own world and it is a lovely one. School was made for little girls like my #2! #3 just finished 4th grade. I also really liked his teacher and she seemed to really enjoy my #3. He really missed his free time, but he got up and made it to school pretty much every day. He got all his homework done and turned in on time. He was very diligent about it. He had a hard time with spelling because we just hadn't focused on it, so we worked on it and he improved quickly, also once he brought back a packet of tests and work he had done, I realized I needed to help him learn his spelling words better and help him review his vocabulary. Language Arts was the only class he didn't get an A in-- he got a B and the first time he got a B-, so he really did improve. He got a certificate for doing the best on a Dewey decimal assignment that he was proud of-- and he got a free burrito at Del Taco for it. He also played his ukulele and sang for his class talent show which I was happy about. I couldn't have him do any extra school type stuff at home after being at school all day. It was hard for him to sit and work all day, but he was OK with it as long as that was all he would have to do. Math was super easy for him. And he really liked it when they had people come and do demos for the 4th grade. The aquarium came and I think some Natural History museum at least. He also enjoyed his field trip and he loved recess. His least favorite thing was being hall monitor because he had to sit in the hall during recess and monitor. He also got to work in the lunchroom and came home with a little hat. His teacher told me that he was quiet and reserved at first, but that he found his way and made some good friends. The hardest part was missing his free time, but at this point he prefers public school. My take-- The most important lesson he learned in school is that you don't have to be perfect at everything. He is so much better now about practicing the piano and doing his chores. I think he learned some discipline at school and to do things even though it seems hard. I am really proud of him, but I missed him a lot. He is just a really nice boy to have around. For me-- getting up early everyday to make breakfast and lunch and making sure I had bread for sandwiches was hard. I really missed the flexibility we have with homeschooling to choose the schedule that works for us. At the beginning of the semester I made sure to read to them all and we kept up on piano lessons fairly well, but by the end especially after spring break, it was all I could do to get everybody to school, and they needed some down time, so I let that go. The boys participated in basketball, soccer and scouts, and the girls in choir and YW, and they kept practicing the piano but that was pretty much it. Also, so that we could have some family time together we would watch an episode of Donald Trump's Apprentice at night. The kids had some questions about business and we thought it would be a good way to educate them so I haven't even been reading any chapter books to them at night. Often #2 would call from the school needing me to bring something and especially at the end of the year, there were activities for me to attend. Also, to go to the dentist I had to go check them out of school and it always took a minimum of 10 min. which being time-challenged I never anticipated. Overall, it turned out how we had hoped. They went to school and conquered it. They weren't behind and they weren't socially awkward. They really liked it, and I am very grateful to their teachers. They did an outstanding job. I can't imagine teaching a class of 30 kids of varying abilities. They should be applauded for their work. I am also grateful to the kids for being open and welcoming to my kids. This is a very nice area to live in. And I am grateful for the school, they were well organized and well run. I am very glad that my kids got to have such a great experience. I don't think public school gets any better than it is here. But I am really looking forward to getting back on track. Homeschooling works well for us and we want to give the kids a strong academic foundation so that when they get to college, they can focus on things that really interest them or do whatever. We also really like our flexibility and the time we get to spend together. The kids are all a little behind our schedule but we'll adjust it. I'm looking forward to being the boss again and helping the kids with Greek, Math, Science, Latin, Logic, Spelling and all the reading we do together and all the field trips and all the extra projects that come up-- and of course some summer fun. I'm also hoping we'll have a better cleaning schedule where we can spread chores throughout the day. Aaah, it will be nice. I think we will start some tomorrow!