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This used to be a blog dedicated to one of my interests, dream interpretation. I have decided to expand it to include thoughts about pretty much Everything.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Schooling options

If I'm determined not to send my child to a mainstream public school, and if I continue living in the city where I am now (a big "if"... I'm job searching...), then I see only a few other alternatives.

One of the Christian schools in town.  (Even if I could afford it) from experience, I know that most Christian schools don't differ much from the objections I have to public schools, with the exceptions being that they aren't as immediately affected by political whimsy, and they usually have smaller class sizes.  However, over-stimulation is still a potential problem, if teachers aren't conscious of how to create a peaceful environment (and I am quite dubious in most cases). Behaviorism, check. Structuralism, check. Technology... that depends on the wealth of the school, but most of them that I've run across REALLY WISH they could include more technology into their classes (i.e., more computer-led learning, etc.)  I'll need to check to make sure...  3-1/2 strikes. Oh yeah, and there's that whole sticky religious indoctrination issue. 4-1/2 strikes.

Turning Point Learning Center, a charter school very  near to where I currently live.  They use Project-Based Learning, which is a really awesome approach to education.  I love PBL for many reasons... a few of the main ones are:
    • PBL teachers don't have to worry nearly as much about motivation issues, because motivation is driven by the curiosity of the students and the relevancy of the projects to the "real" world.
    • PBL encourages holistic thinking--how each part of the project interacts with and affects all the other parts.  Huge plus in my book.
    • Students in PBL build a sense of community, as projects are often done in groups
    • Students in PBL learn early on to develop their own systems of self-organization, self-regulation, and time-management.  This is a skill set I am particularly grateful I developed, due to the the educational approach of the homeschool co-op I was part of during junior-high and highschool.
I also like that TPLC puts Kindergarten-4th grade in the same classroom, then 5-8, then 9-12.  While dividing grades up one at a time isn't necessarily a deal-breaker for me, I think it is anomalous and unhealthy to put a children in a group of people who are only their own ages. In what other constructive context will they ever find themselves in a group of people with an age window of only 1-2 years deviance from their own? Interacting with, learning next to, people of other ages has a higher chance of instilling wisdom and a more sensitive cultural awareness in children than the divide-and-conquer approach used by most schools. Plus, staying in the same class with roughly the same group of people over the course of several years really helps with forming strong healthy attachments.  (You probably get the idea by now that I'm a fan of attachment theory.)
The concerns I have about TPLC are:
  • They have changed management recently, and from the shushed whispers of gossip I've managed to collect, it's in a bit of chaos and having an identity crisis.
  • Will it be a community that is supportive of my attachment parenting efforts?  I called the school to ask a few questions a few days ago, and the secretary told me that the first thing they have a prospective family do is send the child to observe the classroom for half a day.  I asked if I could go along, since my child is only five, and she said no, they always have the child do it alone.  This raises a red flag for me.  Not only for the obvious reason that I am curious about what happens in the classroom as well, but also because it might demonstrate an anti-attachment attitude that is so prevalent in our society.  "Get the child as independent from his parents as soon as possible."  A well-meaning approach, but very unhealthy.  ESPECIALLY when we are talking about a FIVE YEAR OLD.  He doesn't have the schema built up yet to be able to make sense of what is going on around him.  If I were there I could answer his questions about what the other students are doing, what the pictures on the wall are about, and so on and so forth.  He wouldn't ask the teacher, a stranger, that I know for sure.  What a ridiculous policy, Turning Point!
  • I do not like their stance on technology for the younger grades.  Of all the things they could say on their "about our program" page, they brag about every student doing "enrichment" (oh if only the heavy sarcasm I feel could come through my typing!) on their own computers every day.  Kind of like "enriched" flour, I suppose...
    (Although, both of my children have 3rd-house suns, and my eldest has moon in Gemini; so it's unlikely that, long-term, he will share my cautious attitude towards technology. That's OK.  He can go gung-ho when he's older; I just don't want it over-used at his age.)
Homeschooling.  If I did this, I could do whatever I wanted! The only problem? I'm a single mom who has to work.  And I'm going to university to get a master's degree so I can actually get a job that will support my family.  So there's a bit of a time problem.
Actually, that's not the only problem.  I have a space problem too.  My house is tiny, and bursting at the seams, even though I am constantly getting rid of stuff and trying to live as minimally as possible.  Where would I keep textbooks, learning aids, manipulatives?
Another problem: I really, really, really don't want to home-school.  I love my children, but I need a break from them too.  I'm not a kid person, to be honest.  I'd rather not be a parent at all.  It happened, I'm making the best of it, I'm going to turn out some amazing adults in 18 years, but that doesn't mean I like parenting. My eldest, especially, seems to be able to push my buttons pretty easily. It might be easier for him to learn from someone else, with whom he is not so ready and eager to ARGUE!  The whole "prophet is without honor in his own country" phenomenon.
Also, one thing I'm looking forward to about Kindergarten is having a built-in group of friends for ME.  I've mentioned I struggle with loneliness and isolation.  (Probably partly because I'm too damn picky, and too damn intense...) Parents of  other students in your kid's class is a great way to get connected with other people.  I guess there's always home-school co-ops for that part of the picture...

If only I could afford the Waldorf school!  I have my reservations about them, too, but they are probably with me on all of the most important priorities I have.  It would sure be a long commute to Lawrence every day, but it might be worth it!  But yikes, what a high price tag on tuition!

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