Why is it that the school year drags by so slowly and then summer passes so quickly?! This morning I awoke to an empty bed (well, except for the dog on top of me) and a half empty pot of coffee. Jon had left for work- his first day of students. The good news is that it is also back to school for the boys!
Fortunately or unfortunately, when it comes to the boys and school- they haven't made any thing easy on us in these early years and we've found ourselves walking further down a very non-traditional path. Last year we loosely homeschooled for preschool- for a number of reasons- and looking back it was the right choice for us. This year, with the boys about to turn four (as in tomorrow *gasp!*), we had more decisions to make about which path to take in regards to school. Between having them tested and homeschooling last year, we were armed with a lot more information about our boys and how they learn so we were able to spend the late spring and entire summer meeting with schools to explore as many options as we could think of. The tough thing is that what we chose for this year is likely to have a huge impact on what we chose for their elementary experience so it wasn't a decision we could take lightly. We are also trying to figure out where we want them to go for elementary school which for us means selling our house to relocate elsewhere- but we have yet to decide where the perfect "elsewhere" is, so you can see why these are such weighty decisions for us! Ugh!
After many, many meetings and much research, exploration, and discussion- we decided to homeschool the boys again this year. In my research and exploration, I have learned more about education than I had ever wanted to! I am still a bit shaky on the actual definitions of the currently popular "it" words in education- standards, grade level expectations, common core, curriculum, etc.- but my dear husband assures me that even the most veteran teachers who have actually spent an entire lifetime in education are also flabbergasted as to the actual meanings of these terms, so I'm going to brush that off as no a big deal! But what I do know is that no matter which way you look at it, our boys have completed kindergarten. It took Jon and I awhile to accept this but once we did, we were able to start exploring the appropriate first grade curriculum to guide us through this year. With the help of two incredibly wonderful communities with vast experience in educating gifted children, I was able to narrow down my choices and finally select a math and reading curriculum for our school year. The boys actually started these last week and are loving them! As for social studies and science- I spent the summer attempting to master the Michigan curriculum in order to design our year in those subjects on my own. The boys have their own very unique interests in those areas and I wanted to make sure that they were able to dive head first into them as gifted kids need to do. For example, while the Michigan first grade social studies curriculum starts with studying your personal history, we are starting with a giant world map on our wall, a box full of pins, and a whole heck of a lot of shipwrecks to map and study! We'll cover our personal histories too, but if I've learned anything about giftedness, it's that we can't force our kids into a preconceived "box". They simply won't fit. And denying them a chance to so deeply engage in an interest while that fire is burning so intensely- literally burning a hole in their hearts and minds- would be denying them the most wonderful of learning opportunities. When their brains are wired and firing for intense, deep learning and understanding, it'd be like walking by an open window without jumping through it to see where it leads. I may not know much, but I'm pretty certain that's not what school is supposed to be about.
I'm sure some will disagree. Heck, up until a year ago, we disagreed with homeschooling. We thought kids needed school to socialize, to be with same age peers, and to be educated in the best way that we as a society knew how- which Jon and I naïvely wanted to believe was how the public schools operated. But over the last year, all of that has been turned on its head. I haven't had to think so critically about a single topic in God knows how long. My brain hurts. And I feel like I still haven't figured out all of the answers. I don't know what school is supposed to be. I don't know why we do things the way we do. I don't know why our best and brightest are being left behind. But I do know that Jon and I have exhausted every resource available to us at this point in time, and at this point I time homeschooling is what is best for our boys. That may change in the future- in fact we have an active plan to possibly enroll the boys in an incredible school next year- but as of now, the boys will complete first grade at home with me- and my many, many pots of coffee :)
Happy first day of school to all- where ever you may be!!!!!