Do you remember your first grade teacher? Mine was Mrs Elfring. I remember her looking very much like a school marm…glasses, bun, white/blond hair…I also remember her being quite old. I’m sure that was because I was six years old and pretty much every one looks old when you are six years old.
I just asked this question to my 6-year-old and yup…told ya.
And yes…this might come as a surprise, but I’m not exactly 24….just a few years older than that….but just a few!
When I was growing up…I have very fond memories of my public school time. Mr. Wood was my 4th grade teacher and I LOVED his class. He kept a bunch of snakes in our classroom. I remember there being like 15 or 20 of them. Everything from garter snakes to rattlers. If you were the reader of the month you got to go out and hunt lizards with him in the desert to feed to the snakes. That’s how Vale Elementary School rolled in 1982!
Someday I need to do a post just on my first 10 years that I spent in rural Eastern Oregon…I always wondered how different my life would be if I had stayed in a small town…but I digress from my public school experience….For the most part…I liked my teachers and they were nice and I had good friends and I *might* have been both a teacher’s pet and a bit of a troublemaker.
I had absolutely NO intention to home school my own kids. I met my first home schooled child when I was a teenager and the whole family was just a tad “off.” Isn’t that just so stereotypical? I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now. I met exactly one family and that was what I based my assumptions on. I’m sure the kids weren’t even that weird….none of them were my age even so I didn’t even really KNOW them. Imagine that…jumping to a conclusion as a teenager that someone different is weird. I probably had a bad attitude too. I certainly don’t remember that, but my mom *might* tell a different story…
THE DECISION TO HOME SCHOOL
Both of my kids have been to a “public school”…sort of. Munchkin started her Pre-K year at Fort Campbell, KY and lasted for exactly 2.5 months…then she was home schooled for 2 years and then she did 1.5 years in a private school in Uganda and then we did another year in home school.
Lil’ Man spent I year in Pre-K and 6 months in a Kindergarten at a private school in Uganda before we spent the past 6 months in home school.
It’s been quite a bit of back and forth for us.
The home school story starts when Munchkin was 4. If you knew her you back then and actually…if you know her right now you might describe her as a smartypants among other things. She was an early learner…she picked up concepts very quickly and was a total chatterbox all day long. She started reading at 3 and was well into first grade learning by age 4. And it wasn’t because I pushed it. There was absolutely some proud mama bragging going on there while I watched her soar through learning her letter and numbers but the reality was that she loved to learn. I simply couldn’t stop her. And OH the questions! Non-stop chatterbox…did I mention that?
When she went into Pre-K I asked her teacher about her excelled learning abilities – no problem! was the answer – we’ll work with your child at their level.
A month into school I was asked to come in for a parent/teacher meeting. At the meeting the teacher told me that Munchkin was no longer allowed to “read in school.”
There had been complaints from other parents that Munchkin was getting “special treatment” and not having to participate in the classroom activities and getting special privileges the other children weren’t getting…. Ok. Fair enough that children at this age would complain, I guess. So what I discover is that because Munchkin could already read she was being allowed to sit and read books with the classroom TA while the other kids learned their letters and letter sounds. I also found out that the teacher had Munchkin reading picture books to the kids for story time while she sat at her desk.
I came up with what I thought was a logical solution or two….
- Let’s move her up to Kindergarten. Answer: Absolutely not. We don’t move children grades until after 3rd when they are tested for being gifted.
- How about she goes to the library or has a time out with the Kindergarten/1st grade class just for reading time? Answer: NO! She needs to stay and participate in her own class and age level.
- What if I come in and sit with her and read with her in the reading corner during that time? Answer: NO! She cannot receive special privileges.
We progressed all the way up the Principal and Superintendent regarding this issue….
Me: Well….what about my daughter receiving the education that she needs? You are going to stifle her love of learning and set back her progress by forcing her to sit and learn her ABC’s when she can read! I was promised that she would be taught at the level of her learning not that she had to dumb it down because her birth date doesn’t hit a milestone mark for school!
Them: Too bad. She will just have to DOG PADDLE in place until the rest of the kids can catch up to her.
Me: When do you think that will happen?
Them: About 3rd grade.
Me: Bye Felicia! (See Urban Dictionary for definition: “farewell to someone deemed unimportant.”)
Force Five School for Ninja Geniuses
And that is how our home school, Force Five School for Ninja Geniuses was born. I looked into private school…tried to budget that out on a military salary! Ha! Ha! Ha! Had a good laugh then I looked at moving her to another public school, but we lived on post and weren’t allowed to change districts. So we opened door number three and stepped into the world of home school.
We got a lot of blank stares. A lot of advice. A lot of hems and haws… And my favorite piece of advice…. “Well, if you screw it up at least once Munchkin hits third grade she’ll be right in line academically with the rest of her age group!”
SCHOOL STARTS SEPTEMBER 5th
Force Five School opens its doors again officially in about 3 weeks….prepare for a rash of posts on homeschooling this year. It’s therapeutic to write it all out…the trials, troubles and successes as we navigate this road less traveled. And for those worried my children will grow up strange…
I PROMISE TO SOCIALIZE MY KIDS!