Why did I pull my daughter out of a great, bilingual public school? Well, at the time I was finishing up my degree in Early Childhood Education with a 6 and 3 year old. My daughter, Skye, was in 1st grade at a fantastic, English/Spanish school. Luck would have it that I could work in her classroom as an aide to fulfill my student teaching hours. I learned so much from her maestra, an amazing woman from Chile. I solidified everything I had been studying in my college courses: class management, lesson planning, orders and routines, plus my Spanish soared. The teachers’ dedication each day was impressive and the PTA did a fantastic job of putting together fun events.
Questioning Public School
But, I also saw firsthand the shortcomings of a public school classroom with 30 young students in it. My daughter has always been on the gifted end of the academic spectrum. Even in her second language, she nearly always finished her assignment first and was expected to sit quietly until her peers were done. Skye and the rest of the students had to wait quietly while teachers attended to students with challenging behaviors. She had to do the worksheets whether she was learning anything new or not.
Now, I know that this is pretty typical, but what really made me question the school was simply the amount of time spent waiting. We stood in lines before going to each class. Then we waited for 30 pieces of paper to get to the right place eight or ten times a day. We ate a hurried lunch (which most children threw away after a few bites in order to get to recess) and then waited around for everyone to get settled back into class.
One day, I timed it all. I wrote down every little thing that we did in class and was blown away! We had spent hours of the school day waiting to do lessons and assignments. And this was a well-run classroom! La maestra was as sweet as could be and also ran a tight ship. She was always right on schedule. Yet, in our 8.5 hour day, we only did 4 hours of schoolwork. No wonder the 1st graders had an hour or two of homework each night. They had to finish the books one way or another!
How About We Homeschool?
Around this time I began learning about homeschooling, and even unschooling. I became curious. Although I never thought I would homeschool my kids (I was public-schooled and at a college studying to be a teacher!) I realized that we could do what the school did in half the time, at home, together.
We were also considering a move up to a tiny town on a mountain an hour away. At first, I tried to have the best of both worlds. Maybe we could come to the school part-time? Perhaps we could do work at home to stay with the class? The principal rejected the idea: it was all or “nothing”.
And so our homeschool adventure began!
Check out part 2 of this post to see where our decision led us next.
If you’re currently in the same boat, here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider homeschooling.