May 23rd, 2009

Like I needed a new craft.

But I learned to knit yesterday for a good reason.

Joe and I decided to Homeschool Ike next year.

Why? For several reasons.

One of the most important is time. Ike isn't figuring out how to read. I don't think its that important for a Kindergartner to read, in fact, I think its quite ridiculous to teach reading to kids that young. Some kids (especially boys) just aren't ready, and it stresses them out unnecessarily to push it on them. And we are seeing that reaction to the pressure at home. Ike hates school and says he's dumb because he can't learn to read. I know Ike is a smart boy, he will figure it out. But schools are no longer set up to give the kids the time they need to figure it out.

Another is one of my original objections to public school (although to be honest, most schools are like this now). They teach to the test. There is so much pressure on the schools to show quantifiable proof that they are "educating" our children, I think waaaaaay too many important things get thrown aside. Like art, PE, time to play, time to be a kid. I hate the fact that Ike has HOMEWORK! WTF? Kinders don't need homework, and I don't need a stupid sheet to prove that I'm reading to my kid every day. Hello? Librarian! There are two serious Bibliophiles in this house...that is not a problem. (Getting them to pay attention while I read, that's the problem).

I know, I can hear you asking "What about a private school?" Too damned expensive. And the majority of the private schools in this area are even bigger pressure cookers than the public schools. (Something about “Not challenging the kids enough”) Ike needs less pressure (but still structure and rhythm), not more! There are a couple I’d be willing (hell, I’d love it) to send him to. One is Los Altos at the tune of $17K a year, one in Santa Cruz at $12K a year, and one in Campbell at $15K a year. I don’t think so!

And one of the last, which had the hugest impact and prompted me to research my options, Ike’s Kinder teacher turned to me at one of our Parent/Teacher conferences, looked me in the eye and stated flatly “Do NOT send Ike here for 1st grade. He won’t thrive, he won’t survive, and it won’t be good for him. Send him somewhere else.” He’s too physically active and too strongly a kinetic learner for the normal classroom.

Well, damn. Hard to ignore that. She conceded that the local Charter would be slightly better, but since he didn’t get in (again), the question is moot.

So, for the last few months I have been reading everything about homeschooling I could get my hands on. And with ILL, I’ve read A LOT recently. I’ve been researching different curriculums, and recently made a choice and purchased what I need for next year. We will be using the Oak Meadow curriculum. I liked it because the pace of the curriculum is MUCH slower. It’s heavily focused on art and nature. Ike does best when he’s outside, so catering to this strength makes sense. I also recently figured out that it’s also a Waldorf program, so recently I’ve been reading up a lot on the Waldorf method. (Two of the private schools that I’d love to send him to are Waldorf…why in the hell don’t we have a Waldorf school in the South Bay? There are FOUR up in Sac…why don’t we have one here? Not that I could afford it anyway….)

So, what in the hell does this have to do with me learning to knit yesterday? Part of the 1st grade curriculum is knitting. I don’t know how, so I needed to learn. Ike watched me practicing yesterday and has already asked that I teach him (YES! I knew it would work that way. Ike, hell, my kids, never want to learn anything unless and until they catch me doing it. Then they want to learn.) I like it, but I don’t see myself knitting clothes (although socks are kinda cool, but sweaters? Nah.) I spent time after class looking at the patterns for knitting toys (there’s some pretty cool ones) I’m also having to teach myself how to draw. I don’t know how, so I stink. I looked at several different books from the library, picked one and got it in the mail yesterday (Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes). I also took a workshop class last week on how to keep Nature Journals. (Not necessarily part of the curriculum, but something I’m swiping from the Charlotte Mason Camp of Homeschooling, it will dovetail nicely I think). I’ve gathered the supplies for those, and just need to start sitting in the backyard keeping my journal until the kids ask for their own

So far this is the thing I like most about this “Homeschooling” thing. Already it’s forcing me to grow beyond my comfort zone. To learn new things, and to stretch myself. I haven’t even started yet, but the preparation is making me learn. And I’m actually kinda excited about the whole thing.

I have several friends who Homeschool their own kids, so we have a built in social network. The Silicon Valley has some of the largest and most active Homeschool groups in the country, so there will be lots to do, lots of people to meet, we won’t be alone.

We’ve thought this out, I have a plan of action. We will thrive!