Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On my nightstand...

This year my girls really enjoyed school. They loved their teachers and their friends.

Lily learned to read and how to do addition and subtraction.

Rebecca learned about geography and division.

She also spent weeks learning how to take the MCAS test. When I was a kid in New Jersey we took the California Tests. We were reminded to bring in our number 2 pencils and to have a good breakfast. That was it. We took the tests. The results eventually came in the mail. The end.

The MCAS tests are different. Rebecca spent weeks bringing home worksheets practicing for this test. She learned to write responses in the way which they must be answered for this test. The teachers and principal emphasized the importance of this test, on which the performance of the school is based.

It was completely depressing. Rebecca agonized about this test. No matter how often we told her that the test didn't matter, that she should do her best and not worry about this test, we would still find her awake in bed, late at night worried. She had headaches and stomaches. She lost at least two months of her school year to practicing for and being made sick by this one stupid test.

The entire experience made me notice my homeschooling friends more. The workshops they attended, the trips they took, the active learning they were engaged in.

They were not spending weeks learning to take a test.

I've been developing a plan.

One more year of public school. Rebecca wants to finish elementary school with her friends. She can have the yearbook, the dance and the graduation. Lily will have second grade. MCAS don't start until third grade. Second grade is full of projects and field trips. She'll love it.

Then, after this year, those children will be mine. We will learn and travel. We will explore and discover. We'll meet kids in the large homeschooling community in my town. Rebecca will be able to take all of the dance classes that she wants. She'll learn to sew.

One year to plan, to research, to consider and then the adventure begins!


Ashley Remignanti said...

HOLY WOW GOOD FOR YOU!!! I'm so pleased and impressed by your interest and planning, and I'm happy that the girls are open to it. Good luck in your work to figure it all out. YAY!

marie said...

Good for you! Teaching to the test is awful and such a waste of time. It ends up being all about the school and the teachers rather than actually teaching the children.

I wish you much success in your planning for the 2010-11 school year and I hope your girls truly enjoy the upcoming year in their public school.

Amy said...

I've decided against it for next year, but will reassess...probably continually. That first picture is making me squint at the old photo of you and David, with your long hair--can you think of some blog topic that would cause you to need to post that? Sounds like you're having a lovely summer. xoxo

mgster said...

Good for you for not just jumping into homeschooling, but thinking it through. I totally understand what you are saying about testing. My oldest would make himself sick for days when this was going on. What stress for the whole family! Public school is not for everyone. Homeschooling is not for everyone. As parents we owe it to our children to realize what is best for them, as individuals. I think your children are very lucky to have you in their corner. Have a nice day!

Karen said...

WOWEE! You go! I do want to say, though, that MCAS prep. varies from school to school. Our school prides itself on a very low-stress environment. Kids are told that they need to get a good night's sleep and eat a good breakfast, and that's ALL -- the school supplies the pencils. ;-) Other schools in our system are more like pressure-cookers. I'm emailing you separately to put you in touch with a good homeschooling pal (albeit in Calif.).

Kaight said...

Welcome to the dark side. ;-)

A year from now, let's plan some fantastic trips!

Sullygirl2001 said...

You are such an inspiration to ALL mothers! What a bold and WONDERFUL thing you are doing for your girls...I am truly blessed to say I knew you when!
I had Danny at OLQOP for his first year of school and he liked Kindergarden, but first grade the pressure was on! He totally lost it and I had to pull him out a month into it. I put him in the public school which tuned out to be GREAT! I wish I had the time and discipline to do this for him.
Best of luck, I hope your girls appreciate all you do for and with them!


Gena said...

Hi! I am visiting through my niece Ashley and I'm so happy for you and your decision. I have homeschooled for the past 14 years and I love it. My two older children were in public school through 3rd and 5th grades. My two younger children (ages 10 and 15) have never been to public school. I have never regretted the decision we made to homeschool all of them, even through high school.

It is not for everyone. It is sometimes difficult. There will be days when you want to pull your hair out. But I have had more time with my children than most parents will ever have and I wouldn't take that back for a second. It is so rewarding and so much fun. I wish you the best of luck.

Lisa said...

Oh how very exciting. I think public school is a treasure this country has buried. We are lucky to have it but no one cares to do anything but fire teachers who are overworked and underpaid UNLESS all the kids pass end of year exams. DO these exams teach anything???? Your children will have a great time I'm sure and good for you for thinking about them. Childhood should be full of fun learning!!!! I loved all the places I went as a child and learned the history and culture of them all.
Hugs, Lisa

Jean said...

Sara, I have no doubt that you can't be successful at homeschooling if it is what you want to do, and you are giving yourself plenty of time to plan and prepare for it.Go for it!
Jean in Virginia