Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gettin' Schooled

Just to update on the Adventures in Education we'll be on come fall 2009:

The kids and I went to the school yesterday to officially register them and take a tour of the school. We met the principle and the secretary and several of the teachers they'll each have, and they were all very friendly people. I noticed that nearly every kid we passed in the hall (we toured just as school was letting out) stopped to talk to the principle and teachers, and genuinely seemed to enjoy that. It was very encouraging to see that.

We toured the entire school, even (briefly) the classrooms they'll likely never be in, just to give them a good sense of the layout at the school. From the brand new gym built just 2 years ago (Samuel was one delighted kid to see that) to the music room, French class, library, computer lab (huge room, with air conditioning - we wanted to hang around in there, it was 85 degrees yesterday) and various other critical areas, such as the playground - which is enormous. Playgrounds matter, when you're 8, 10 and 11, so that was a crucial stop on the tour.

The principle and I had a good talk on the huge amount of extra-curricular activities available for the kids, and they each had several questions for her as well, which she was happy to answer for them.

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience for me and for the kids. I honestly expected to have at least one reservation but I really didn't, and that surprised me. There will be a culture shock adjustment time for them when school starts in the fall, but I don't think it will be nearly as much of a culture-shock as I first thought. Someone asked me last night why we decided to put them into public school after almost 10 years of homeschooling. The simplest answer to that question is: opportunities. A good education is one that is filled with opportunities to explore a wide variety of areas from the basic reading, writing and arithmatics, to languages, music, technology and even sports. In our particular circumstances in homeschooling, we can give them the basics but we can't give them the wide spectrum that this school can. We cannot teach French, or music, or even give them access to decent technology, and I believe they deserve to have those opportunties to grow and learn.

So, we're all pretty excited about this adventure we're on. It will definitely be a big adjustment for Ruth and I being home and homeschooling for one more year, but I think it'll be an awesome time for her to grow up a little bit as well having her own time during the day without the older kids here. I'm happy with this decision we've made, even though I did almost cry a few times the other night sorting through some old folders of the kids lower level grade work. It's a little sad saying goodbye to this part of our life, and I'm pretty sure that's just a normal part of the process.

Oh, and for those who've asked: they will each be placed in their grade level for their age (grades 4, 5 and 7) and have their progress monitored for the first several weeks/months to see where their strengths and weaknesses are. We've always used a curriculum from the states, and while its an awesome curriculum, Canadian schools are a grade ahead of US schools. If we were in the states they'd be entering grades 3, 4 and 6 but here - the kids of the same age are already a year ahead. For the areas where they might need extra help, there is a Learning Support teacher with his own classroom (who we met yesterday, very nice man) they will work with to get them on track if/when they need it.

It's funny, this is the first year ever they've all said to me "I can't wait for school to start in the fall!" They're that excited about attending this school, meeting new friends, and taking part in all the new opportunities. When I told them the computer lab doesn't have dial up like we have here at home, they were extremely delighted.

I'm sure by this time next year the novelty will have worn off and they'll be looking forward to summer vacation just like all the other kids. Although, I wouldn't mind spending some quality time in that computer lab myself. ;-)