Monday, April 18, 2011
Today is the first day of the school holidays, and I've been wanting to write for weeks about our school experiences.  As you know, we took the plunge from homeschooling for 6 years to mainstreaming in public school at the beginning of the year.

How has it gone? How have the children adjusted to a radically new lifestyle?
Do we miss homeschooling? Am I planning to go back to it?

Well - do I miss homeschooling?

The short answer is . . .

No. Not one bit.

The transition from homeschooling to school has gone so incredibly well. I don't know if it is because we are so very fortunate in our little country school, or if the children were relatively well-adjusted socially that it made it easy for them to make friends, or if it is a combination of both. Whatever the reason, all three of them have settled in extremely well. They have all made some lovely friends, and are just lapping up the diversity and social interaction, and the opportunities that school offers.

I still believe in home-schooling. Part of me feels a little sorrow at the fact that this part of our lives is over. Because it is. My children, at this stage, have not shown any interest in returning to home for their education. If I lived in America, I would be continuing to homeschool. I think America has a long-established history of homeschoolers and because their population is so large, their education system is not as biased towards homeschoolers as it is here in New Zealand. It is easy for a homeschooled child to go onto university there, whereas here it takes hard work and a lot of research and advocacy required from the parent for the child to achieve academic success here. And to be honest, I didn't know if I could muster up the energy to join with the other stoic pioneers in this field.

The other wonderful thing about our school is that the parents are soooo friendly. Much friendlier than the churches we've been to around here lately, and much, much friendlier than the homeschooling groups. Oh, what a relief it has been to me to find myself fitting in, making friends, feeling part of a wider community.  And the other funny thing that we're finding is that four children is not unusual. We're actually part of a large group of families at the school who have 4 children!

It was a big adjustment to begin with - just learning the routines, having to get out the door early in the monring. Theodore (6) has probably found this the hardest, but after a few weeks, he settled in to it, and has coped very well. I was especially worried about him, as with his epilepsy he still requires a sleep during the day, but his lovely teacher has been very understanding and is very tolerant of his ups and downs. He is a year behind his peers because we lost a year of learning with him when he was having his seizures, but he is fast catching up and after struggling to teach him phonetically to read (I used two different programmes in my attempts to break through), he is thriving on the word recognition programme that his teacher is using with him. He's come so far in the last 4-6 weeks, we're so proud of him. The school principal awarded him a little certificate at school assembly for doing so well with it.

Even though it goes against the grain to know that one of my children is learning to read by this system, I can see how it is working for Teddy. He has an amazing memory - almost photographic I should think, so it makes sense that it would work for him.

My oldest boy is loving school so much that he is sorry to miss two weeks by having holidays, although I noticed that he did enjoy a long lie-in this morning! He has been having sewing classes every week at school this last term and next term is going on to do woodworking. The third term will see him learning cooking, and the fourth is metal-work. He's also joined a school hockey sports group - something he's wanted to try for a long time. He'll be doing an extra-curricular class in orientation on Fridays with his friends and his new male teacher. And all the class will be learning how to play the guitar. The school is a decile 10 school, and we were offered the option of buying a guitar from the school for $90 (no guitars provided), so thank goodness for cousins who have guitars and don't mind loaning them out.

And Meredith is loving school as well. I am amazed (I know I shouldn't be), at how popular she is with the girls in her class. She has so many lovely little friends (and I've met their lovely mums too), that I've had to limit her on how and when she has afterschool times with them. I've learned all about sticker albums and jelly stickers and the art of learning how to swap for the good stickers.
Meredith is thriving on the academics. I can totally see how school is geared towards the success of females.

So, as you can see, we are loving school. The kids are happy and I am too. I am enjoying the toddler years of little Alice and being able to give her some undivided attention. We have joined the local playcentre and a school mums coffee group, which I want to write about in a separate blog. I've even been given a job (voluntary), and it's a dream job for me. Can't wait to tell you about it.


bettyl said...

It's good to hear that the kids are adjusting so well, and you, too, Mum! I'm sure that's a load off your mind.

Sandy Addison said...

I would so love to be able to have a cuppa with you and talk further with you about all this as someone who is training to become a teacher. I can really see the inadequacies in the educational system but I think there are ways and means. So glad you are finding in the social outlet you need. Love you

Cottage Tails said...

Great post!
so glad everyone has settled in.

Love Leanne

Cate said...

I am so thrilled that the transition has gone so well for you all. I also think that is definitely a combination of both factors too - great kids AND a lovely country school.

Heather L. said...

Absolutely love the coat!!!!

So glad school is going well. I think I would like that kind of a situation as well. Sounds like it's been a great decision. So happy for you.

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