As I type this I have just delivered Stella and Ty to their third days of first grade and kindergarten, respectively. Stella is a very social child and is adjusting pretty well despite knowing almost nobody in her class this year. It is somewhat irritating to me that each year Stella and my older kids move up a grade, they have a totally new group of classmates. The school's idea of keeping the kids together "somewhat" involves keeping one or two kids from the same class together the following year at best. One of the reasons I chose public school way back at the beginning is because the kids would create some lasting friendships. It seems somewhat counter-productive to friendship to constantly split apart the classmates. It also creates unnecessary anxiety about starting school each year. Javen and Max are not as socially inclined as Stella and constantly being thrust into a new group of classmates was very stressful and upsetting to them. The kids even have to sit with their new classmates at lunch, so the old friendships cannot even be maintained through lunch and recess commeraderie. It's kind of like starting a new school each year, which I see very little benefit to.
Ty is doing okay in kindergarten. He has already moved past the tears for the most part and now just gives me a somewhat resigned-yet-icy stare after I hug him and tell him goodbye in the morning. He has said he enjoys the company of some of his new class mates, but by the end of day two, he was already talking about how the day was "too long" and "takes forever" and "drags on" and "is boring." I take these comments with a grain of salt, but coming from Ty it is a tad worrisome because he LOVES learning and is a very precocious little guy. In my opinion, the first week of school should be MORE engaging than the rest of the year, not less. It should be filled with stories, coloring, circle time, songs, games, etc, all while slowing acclimating the kids to the processes and rules. Our school had a huge spike in kindergarten enrollment this year, so last minute an extra teacher was hired. This is Ty's teacher. She was at the open house so thankfully Ty has met her, but she will not be officially starting until September because of prior commitments. That means that Ty's class has a substitute for the first month of school. So basically, as soon as they fall into the groove of their routine, they will have a new teacher. In kindergarten. Poor planning? I think so.
Stella was told that starting in September she will have DAILY homework that will include 30 minutes of reading (no problem with that, we do that anyway) 10 minutes of writing about said reading (a great way to get kids to loathe their reading at this young of an age IMO), AND 1-2 math worksheets. Every day. In first grade. After 6+ hours of school. That does not sit well with me. The mainly worksheet based curriculum is what crippled Javen so much last year. I thought it was pretty acceptable to have homework in 3rd grade, a few days a week, but an hour or more every day?? That's too much and I am bothered that it's starting in first grade.
Homeschooling will not begin until September so I have nothing to report on that front. Right now I am simply working on getting the boys acclimated to their new schedule. I have them wake up a little earlier each day, and do some reading and drawing. One thing I HAVE noticed, is that when I ask them to choose reading material off our huge bookshelf, they automatically pick books that are educational first. Javen picked a huge book on dinosaurs yesterday, and Max picked books on desert life and inventors. When they were done reading they were happy to chat me up about what they had read, whereas last year they always HATED writing paragraphs about their required reading. It seems to happen much more organically when they are making some choices for themselves.
I will do my best to approach this coming year from an unbiased perspective. It will be a challenge for me as my prior public school experiences with the kids have not been great and I have no established foundation for homeschool yet, but I will do my best to remain open-minded about both forms of schooling.
I also plan to be as involved in the public school as I am in homeschooling (to whatever level I am capable of), as I think that ANY successful school experience relies heavily on parental interaction.
Of we go!