Sunday, September 15, 2013

Plugging Away

We are entering into week five of school. It seems like the first day of school was just yesterday. Most days it seems like we are still figuring out this new schedule and new responsibilities. Every now and then I catch a fleeting moment of feeling like I have it all under control. My standard answer to the question, "How has school going?" is this, if I had only gone back to work, it would be going well. If only the kids had gone to school, it would be going fairly well. The two together is very intense.

This is a good school. The students, while not perfect, are well behaved and respectful. The staff is friendly. The academic level is high. Even in this good school, I am daily reminded of the inherent flaws in the way we do school. In my own classroom of ten there is a huge gap in abilities. Challenging the one end while keeping the other with us is so very difficult. These kids don't think for themselves. They don't do for themselves. They are great at following instructions, but that only gets you so far in life. Now whether that is the "system" or parenting is hard to say, but it bothers me.

I see the flaws affect my own children. I have one who is frustrated that the classes are moving too slowly. I have one who is acing all reading assignments, but failing math, and struggling with a load of homework every night because they work at a slower pace and the things aren't getting complete in class. Another who is doing fairly well, but has a hard time sitting still, and refraining from sharing stories every time they come to mind.

We moved both girls down a grade level. Vivian wasn't quite on the same reading or math level as the rest of the second grade. She may have been able to struggle through if I wasn't the second grade teacher. In my class, when she struggled she wanted to be mommy's baby. She is shining in the first grade, and we are both much happier.

Lydia has always struggled with math. She just couldn't make the jump to sixth grade math. In hindsight, I should have know that wasn't going to work. Moving to the fifth grade has helped, but it is still very hard work for her. She is often frustrated by her school work.

I've struggled with feeling like I've failed the kids. It is hard to see them struggle, and not feel like you failed by not preparing them adequately. But then this is one of my gripes about the system of school. Very few talents are appreciated. Academic and athletic strengths get all the glory. If you don't shine there, it easy to get lost in the crowd, or to feel like a failure. I wish Lydia could get a grade for her cooking skills, or for her caring and nurturing skills. She is an incredibly talented and wonderful young lady, but right now also a very frustrated one.

The kids are learning valuable skills, beyond academics, that we missed at home. They all have been learning to be better organized. They are learning to meet different expectations and deadlines. They are learning better time management.

Tim and I are enjoying being together more. Tim is much less stressed and tired. I like to tease him that he is the only one in the family who has gotten a win win from our new schedule. We are certainly enjoying the new found wiggle room in the budget. That is a huge stress removed for us both.

A wise friend and mother of eight once told me that you never make a decision about having more kids while you're pregnant or when you have a new baby. The time is just too intense. There is too much stress. The emotions run high. You can't make a rational judgment. I am applying that same logic to this situation. Am I glad we made change? Ask me at Christmas, or maybe in June. :)


  1. Thank you for the posts. We just moved into a really good school district and are considering having my 13 year old start high school next year but have the obvious reservations. I love that we can pace their studies by their need. It's a shame public schools don't allow kids to attend classes based on ability instead age and grade. I look forward to reading more!

    1. There are so many things to consider aren't there? I still LOVE homeschooling. I know some states (not here though) do offer charter schools that are organized more around ability than age. I think changes need to happen in the system.