Education On My Mind

I was at a birthday party last weekend, talking with some fellow parents about school options.  Specifically, middle school.  The subject of private school came up and I made the comment that I’d rather have money to travel to Australia (where hubby is from and family and friends we love) and how we can’t afford both international travel and private school.  The response from one parent was that, “You must not care about your kid’s education then.  You obviously care more about world travel”.

Hmmm.

I didn’t really know how to respond.  I actually thought he was being sarcastic, so I just laughed it off with a, “Yeah, I guess so”, ha ha. But now I’m pretty sure he meant it.  Which, first of all, who says that to another person?  And secondly, it’s really just hilarious considering that if he had been anywhere inside my head in the last, I don’t know, 3 years, he would know that I’m actually a bit (okay a lot)

Which, first of all, who says that to another person?  And secondly, it’s really just hilarious considering that if he had been anywhere inside my head in the last, I don’t know, 3 years, he would know that I’m actually a bit (okay a lot) obsessive about my kid’s education and the school options available to us.  Like, I am pretty sure there a lot of people that wish I would shut up about it.  My husband being one of them.

It’s a hot topic where I live.  My kids attend one of the ‘coveted’ elementary schools, which you can only get in via a lottery, if you live in the geographic preferred zone (GPZ).  The neighborhood is so popular now that living in the GPZ doesn’t even guarantee you a spot…even if you live next-door to the school.  I know.  It’s a little insane.

So, after years/months of stressing about elementary school and finally ‘winning’ your precious kindergarten spot, your glee is short-lived as you soon realize how fast the merry-go-round of school is and now you have to start thinking about middle school.  Our middle school starts in 5th grade, (which is kinda nuts to begin with) and you have to apply in Fall of your 4th grade year.  If you want to apply to the academic magnet, it has requirements based on 3rd grade state test scores, so you basically have to start thinking about middle school in 3rd grade.

Our middle school starts in 5th grade, (which is kinda nuts to begin with) and you have to apply in Fall of your 4th grade year.  If you want to apply to the academic magnet, it has requirements based on 3rd grade state test scores, so you basically have to start thinking about middle school in 3rd grade.

And then there is the pathways from middle school to high school.  Many choose the middle school based one what high school it feeds into.  So, basically, you start thinking about high school in 3rd grade.  It’s really pretty insane.

Big D has never loved school.  He tolerates it.  Some days he has fun and learns something he thinks is really cool, other days, like today, he tells me the highlight of the day was getting to doodle on his paper in math class.  Really?  Yeah, well, you should see some of the drawings that come home on math sheets.  I save them.  You know, a record of his education.  Cause, I’m telling you…there is not always a whole heck of a lot else going on, particularly if you are a kid who learns quickly.

I’m not saying it’s not a good school.  It’s a great school with fantastic teachers and amazing kids and parents.  But, there is only so much that can be done with so many kids, all on different levels, and so many state and district requirements.  There are only so many hours in the day that also have to include Art/Music/PE/Spanish/lunch and their measly 20-minute recess as well as going to and from and here to there.  It’s like herding cats.  Really.

Bid D wants to be home-schooled in middle school.  Home-schooled.  Can I tell you how many times that I considered home-schooling when I thought about where my kids would go to school?

Uh, zero.

Never.  Not once.  My sister home-schooled my nephew in kindergarten and I thought she was crazy.  And stupid.  For reals.  Homeschooling is for crazy, jumper-wearing religious weirdos.  Right?

Well, that’s what I thought anyway.  Turns out there is an enormous home-schooling community in my ‘hood with bunches of normal people.  Normal being relative, of course.  Some of whom I’m already acquaintances and even, dare I say, friends.

But, ever since Big D mentioned it to me (in first grade, ya’ll), I’ve thought about it.  Well, obsessed over it might be more appropriate.  Agonized.  Asked questions. Stressed.  I’m still obsessing.  You know why?  Because I think I’m going to do it.  I think I’m going to be a home-schooling Mom.  Lord help me.

Deep down I think I know that it’s the right choice, despite my hesitations.  I’m nervous about it, yes.  But, I’ve also never been one to shy away from doing something compelling simply because of nerves.  Or because people think I’m nuts.  Which, let’s be honest, most people think people who home-school are nuts.

Big D has some really compelling reasons for wanting to be home-schooled.  He wants to do more of what he’s interested in, go on more field trips, work at his own pace and find fun and interesting ways to learn.  He’s a kid who loves to learn.  And know stuff.  The kid reads physics books for fun.  He has a book about Molecules in our Amazon cart to spend his birthday money on.  He’s a bright kid.  He’s bored at school and I personally think he’d excel at a ridiculously rapid pace given half a chance.  Let’s face it, most kids would.  But, the caveat is that he wants to do all of this while still being able to play and be a kid and not have hours of homework after being at school all day long.

And frankly, I want all of those things for him too.  And for our family.  Hours of homework and our family don’t work well together.

So, I guess if somebody thinks that because I’m willing to give homeschooling a shot and prefer world travel to private school that it means I don’t care about my kid’s education, so be it.  Haters gonna hate.  But, ultimately everyone has to choose their own path, no matter how scary it might seem.