Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16, 2014

The boys and I ran errands this morning to prepare for them to start public school tomorrow.  They were both due for eye examines so we did that and Nick had to have an updated script (as expected) and Ben's eyes are 20/15.  We picked out new glasses for Nick.  He can't wait to wear contacts but I think he was pretty happy with the ones he got.  This was the first time he really picked them out by himself.  I think they look really sharp.

After ordering Nick's glasses, we went to the bank to retrieve the boys' OK birth certificates from our safety deposit box.  Then we headed to the school administration building to register.  It didn't take long at all because we had all of the paperwork we needed.  She gave us a contact number to call at the local elementary so I called and set up a tour for this afternoon.

The boys will officially start tomorrow.  Since they have been homeschooled up to now, they will have to take some tests to determine their grade level.  I hope they do OK, as they have never taken any formal tests before.  The only testing they have done were small math or spelling tests with me.  Just before our Christmas break, they had finished our 2nd grade curriculum in everything except math, but they were almost finished with it also.  So hopefully they will have no problem testing into the second grade.  (yes, I'm a little nervous, since it reflects on me....prayers people, I need prayers!:).

Nick is very excited and can't wait.  Ben, not so much.  I think there is a part of Ben that is excited but the other part of him really does not want to go to public school and that part tends to be more vocal.  I know he will do very well though and I suspect that he will end up really liking it.  I think Nick will love the social aspect of it and may thrive on the academic competition in that environment (as opposed to competing with his brother) but I think he will have a hard time with the required writing.

They are both most likely behind in writing, from the school's perspective, because we had a different philosophy on how to approach writing than the school uses.  Even then, N has always had issues with writing and fine motor skills and that is why he has been in occupational therapy for the past 6 months or so.  We are hoping that maybe they will take that over within the school but we shall see.  Our insurance doesn't cover it and it is very expensive so it would be nice if they did, plus it would save me a weekly trip into to the city and they would make allowances for Nick's writing difficulties.  They will test him and I will hope and pray they agree he has fine motor issues and will take it on.

Some are probably wondering how it has come to this point, that we are putting them in public school.  Basically I believe that Nick had made up his mind that this is what he wanted and he has been refusing to work for me and, really, both boys have had a bad attitude about school for a while now but one's is incredibly bad.  I have tried everything I know to try and I fear it is impacting our relationships, which I do not want.  So the husband and I discussed it (he has seen the problem behavior in action) and we both agreed that it was time they spent a semester at public school to see what it is like and see if they like it better.  I figure they will either like/love it, want to continue and will be more willing to work hard with a good attitude for their teachers, or they will dislike/hate it and want to come back home, hopefully with a new appreciation of what they have here.  Either way, I think it will likely be a win for us, compared to what we have been having.  The difficult thing is that I do not want to do both.  I don't want to homeschool one while the other is at public school because it just adds a lot more work and responsibility to my plate in various ways.  So it will be difficult if one wants to stay in public school and one wants to come home.  I suppose we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Some may also be wondering how I feel about this.  In a word, heartbroken.  But I am trying very hard not to show it and to keep a very positive attitude about public school, while also setting expectations by comparing pros and cons between homeschool and public school.  I also feel a bit of a failure.  I tend to be a type A personality, a get-it-done kind of person and I don't naturally joke around a lot or tease.  Maybe if I had tried a little harder to make it more fun they would have enjoyed it more. 

I have always felt that teaching them was a privilege and I really enjoyed it a lot.  I enjoyed seeing their faces light up when something they had been working on finally clicked or they learned something interesting (I loved teaching them to read), I enjoyed reading lots of interesting library books to them and also all of the classics we have read together and loved and still make reference to at times.  I enjoyed the research, trying to determine which curriculum might work best for us.  I really loved it all, even though it was a lot of work.  But most of all, I loved spending lots of time with them and I will miss them during the 6 or 7 hours they are gone each day (school is from 9:00-3:30 plus 30 minutes before and after, taking the bus).

It is also very hard to give up the control of directing their education.  I felt we were on a path to a better education than the school could provide so I am kind of mourning that also.  It will be a huge adjustment for me to let someone else take over this responsibility, a responsibility that I always took very seriously and made an effort to provide the best I could.

Fortunately we have a very good school in our neighborhood, close to our house.  It is newly built and is really a very lovely building and many of the neighborhood kids that the boys play with go there.  I am sure we will all adjust and I will eventually find lots of things to fill up the empty hours of my day (I have already thought of several possibilities).

So, big changes in the Pisarik household. The husband is also making career choices/changes so please keep us all in your prayers.  This is a tumultuous time for us.

p.s.  We took the school tour and met lots of very nice, friendly staff.  The boys also saw several boys they knew, which was encouraging to them.  They were more excited after the tour.  We also saw the lunch menu and we are all pretty impressed with it.  Nick was complaining that he wouldn't like anything they serve and wanted to take his lunch but now he wants to eat there.

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 we start testing.  One will test from 9-10 and the other from 10-11 (please be praying for us during this time if you can).  Then they will be able to assign them to a class and the boys will eat lunch there, have recess and spend the rest of the day with their class.  They are out on Monday for MLK day but will hopefully be able to hit the ground running on Tuesday morning, knowing where to go and already having a desk, etc.

I am doing great in front of people I don't know, but every time I run into a fellow homeschooler and it comes up, I can not hardly keep it together.  I know it is going to turn out fine and it takes a while to adjust.  In the meantime I feel as if I am mourning a loss and it is hard at times.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated during this time.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lea.

Missed your blogs, I'm glad you're back!

My two are fifth graders now, seven months apart, they came home from Russia at 10 months and 17 months.
I loved the parent/child preschool that we went to, because I got to do all kinds of things with them. But I figured out early on that I could never homeschool them, because I can't manage both being their teacher and being their loving parent. We even ended up hiring a tutor last year, which we really didn't want to do, because although we could easily help them with math (and reading, and writing) we had massive amounts of resistance and fighting, and we decided it was messing our family up too much!

You might also be running into some age-related issues. My two (one boy, one girl) were best buddies until around second grade, and did well in the same class in school. But something happened in second/third grade, they started competing and fighting a lot.

So I think you;'ve made a good decision, and you can always try to volunteer at the school (some schools and teachers encourage this, others not so much), And, enjoy a little free time!

Sue B

Lea said...

Thanks Sue! How do you deal with homework? Does the tutor handle all of it?

Anonymous said...

Funny you should ask, because we are wrestling with that again these days.

For K-2, my kids (who are 7 months apart, but in the same grade) attended a highly rated public school half a mile away. In second grade, my volunteer time was spent grading match and spelling tests, and checking in homework, the teachers never saw any of this stuff.

In third grade, we moved to a new charter school, which is project-oriented and somewhat unstructured. I thought my kids (who are very bright, but not what I would call "students", and who are very active) would like the more active, hands-on environment, and I liked the smaller class size and less emphasis on constant testing. They don't have a lot of homework, unless they are behind in a project, but there are lots of extra (mostly on-line) opportunities to work on math and spelling.

THe main reason for the tutor is that they weren't getting enough math at school (and I have friends at other charter schools who have also run into this), and they were very resistant when we tried to work with them at home. She's a retired teacher, and she's making sure that they aren't missing out on any parts of the grade-level standards. Over the last two years, the school has realized that you can't just assume they will learn enough math through the projects, and this year they have tried 3 different sets of curriculum so far!

These days, we are struggling to get them to do the basics - eat a healthy breakfast, brush teeth, etc - things
have gotten very difficult in the last year or so!

Sue B

Lea said...

Hi Sue, I know what you mean. We go through struggles like that periodically. I recently read a book that has made a huge impact on my life and my parenting. It is Loving Our Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk. I have read so many books on parenting that I wish I could have a dollar for each. But this book made so much more sense to me than any other ever has. No, things are not perfect here now, nor will they be ever because we are all human and I am still learning (and so are they) but it really is making a difference in our home. I will pray that things will improve for your family. It is hard to go through these difficult times.