Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are These People Crazy? Part II

First... ok, seriously, I know, we need a wireless router around here.  I have my fun little netbook friend, but can't get on-line at home with it.  And when I blog, I also like to make a few rounds and see other blogs.  And that takes for-ev-ah.  And there's a wonderful man upstairs hanging out alone in my living room.  He looks familiar, like I may know him or something.  I need a wireless router so that I can be in both my cyber- and real-life worlds at the same time.  Working on that......

In the meantime, we made a decision.  I went to the Open House for new families accepted into Are You Good Enough For My Little Girl? Elementary School.  I pored over every.single.line of the school's curriculum, which they kindly posted on-line.  I listened to the principal explain that they will have the same budget struggles, student-teacher ratio issues and having to scrap for funding as the rest of the system.  I did the school tour, looked carefully at each and every bulletin board in the hallways and the classrooms, peered over a few small shoulders doing their work and took four pages of copious notes and shared every word of them with a forever-patient Urban Dad. 

And while I found it to be a lovely little school, my heart just wasn't into the idea. 

Another factor was my intimidation about teaching science and technology (future posts about this to come, i'm sure).  At AYGEFMLG? Elementary, the 5th and 6th graders were preparing to go to the U of I in Urbana-Champaign for a Science Fair.  They had built nifty contraptions that were shooting tennis balls down the hallway.  And I knew that they were over my head. 

And I wondered what was wrong with me that I still wasn't more excited about the idea of this school.

But God provides, right?  I recently met another Classical homeschool mom -- turns out that our daughters are in soccer together and became fast friends.  And I was so excited when this mom carefully asked me one day, "Ummm, is my daughter right? Do you homeschool? 'Cause we do, too...."  Anywhoooo, this lovely lady is all tapped into the underground of urban homeschoolers.  (And durned if private little me may need to start networking a bit as the Urban Kids get older.)  She was so wonderfully interested in our decision-making process and so fantastically reassuring of the array of resources out there, that there is no need to re-invent any wheels here.

I flipped carefully through the pages covering science of  The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.

Oh, and my attempts to subtly ask Urban Kid 1 what her thoughts were about school.... what have been her favorite and least favorite things this year... does she wonder about going to "real" school..... was met with her finally shouting, "MOM!  WHY do you keep asking me this? I do NOT want to go to school!"

Oh. Um. Ok.  Hey! Don't shout at your mother, young lady!

And then the kicker:

Urban Dad contacted the former principal of Great Big Urban High School (not the current one, who couldn't offer us much insight of any kind).  He gave us his impression of AYGEFMLG? Elementary -- that they're rather snooty, but it's earned, so whatever.  And he was enthusiastic about homeschooling.  In fact, about 15 years ago, there was a group of homeschooled 8th-graders applying for CPS's selective enrollment high schools.  Those In Charge were all britches-in-a-bunch because there were -- imagine this -- no test scores! They hadn't been tested! (imagine me pretending to wring hands here)  This former colleague of ours stood up and said, "I'll solve this problem. GBUHS will take them all."  And he did.  In addition, our former principal is now officially retired from CPS, but returns to various schools as a consultant for this-or-that.  After a long and successful career with CPS, including being principal of one of the largest high schools in America, his final thought on the whole topic?  "I don't know Urban Dad, what can I tell you?  The longer you can keep your kids out of the system, the better off they'll be."

It cemented in my head what I already knew in my heart.  I was done with the process, signed the rejection form and mailed it the next day.

Oh, and one more thing.  I downloaded all of that curriculum from AYGEFMLG? Elementary's website.  Thank you, AYGEFMLG? Elementary!

(LP, if you're reading, you know how i feel about the work that you, your husband and several others at GBUHS are doing!)


Mothership said...

Hooray!! The celebration is not necessarily because you've kept her out of school, but because you've come to the right decision for your family. Tricky, tricky. Networking is vital to our school--mine are 11 on down and are doing those more advanced things that can be intimidating. Really, though? It is fun re-learning stuff I hadn't even thought about since the 6th grade.

About the testing thing, mine took a math test recently (not for the schools). They had no freaking idea what to do. They had never filled in bubbles with a #2 pencil. Neither put their names in the right hand corner. I'm sure they failed.(:

Dy said...

Oh, the material available is *astounding*. I'm so glad you've got a local friend who can help show you the ropes. (Wish it were me! *sniffle* But, you know, not enough to have to move to the city.) :-)

You guys are signed on for a truly Amazing Adventure! (And I'm SO glad you're back!)


G said...

Phew! I've been checking regularly for a decision! Glad to see that you all worked together to come to a conclusion, and I love UK1's reaction ;)

rita said...

I don't think you'll ever regret home-schooling your kids. My daughter keeps toying with the idea (my granddaughter's first three years of school were HORRENDOUS and she very nearly pulled her out then and there about 50 times), but they moved two years ago (to the poorest county in Florida, from the richest) and both kids are SHINING. But she's still reserving the right.....) but....

You already know that your daughter is testing waaayyyy above public school kids, so no worries. You're doing it right!

Uptown Girl said...

I just got caught up on the saga. Congrats on making the decision - I'm sure UKid 1 is happy about it.

My mom homeschooled me for a year and a half, and my brothers for a brief stint (separate years from me). When we were wanting to go to "real school" it was pretty clear. I begged my mom to homeschool me to begin with, and then I told her when I was ready to go see boys on a daily basis ;)

Cherish this time!