Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes....

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This week has been a little bit hectic. But then, when you have kids (a lot of kids), that can pretty much be a normal way of life.
This is a lengthy story that I'll try to condense.
But. I'm not very good at condensing.
I must go back a few weeks in time to the beginning.....

Last year was the first year of public school for our two middle boys. This story is about the oldest of the two-the 11 year old.

Starting school in fifth grade can't be easy. After all those years at home, he jumped into 5th grade last year, adjusted fairly quickly and made very good grades. When we faced the upcoming school year (this year), we had three choices: homeschool, neighborhood middle school, or county optional arts academy. After much wavering on his part, he chose the arts academy.

School started 5 weeks ago and he was excited. With only 2 sixth grade classes, there were no fears of being lost in the crowd. Plus, he is an artist, creative by nature. So excited.

Immediately I noticed that he didn't volunteer information about school and would answer many of my questions with "I don't know". This bothered me, but I chalked it up to his age.

Weeks two and three went by with more of the same. Even on swim days (every Friday), his enthusiasm was....lacking. Hmmmph.

At the end of the third week, the school had Open House. My oldest daughter went with us-the three of us went, I should say. The school itself was nicely decorated and the students ran the program. There was music, mimes, dancing.... Really cool school. Then the teachers were introduced and off we went on a scavenger hunt to meet the teachers. Only, we didn't meet my son's teachers. We met other teachers. ?? Weird was my thought. The one teacher we did meet had very little time for us. I left their very frustrated with the process and with an unexplained gut feeling that something just wasn't right. My daughter agreed.

That weekend we spoke with our son about school and offered to let him make a change. (Something I told him we would not allow until the end of the first semester.) But, you just gotta go with that gut feeling, ya know?

On Wednesday of week four, he finally came to me and asked to change over to our neighborhood middle school. I started making calls the next day and withdrew him from the academy this past Monday.

I have to admit, I felt a surge of homeschool energy vibe that one day he was at home. But, as I admit to that desire, I must also admit that I know it isn't the best option for him. We are pretty isolated in this rural area. We only have one car. (And no money!) Extracurricular activities would be sparse and he would be bored, bored, bored. Not to mention my superior planning skills that fail due to my poor attempts at follow-through....

Finally, we began to get some answers to our "So, what happened at school today?" questions. I won't bore you all with every detail, just a couple of key points. Not one other child in his fifth grade class was attending the arts academy. Not one. Out of over 160. What did all those parents know that we didn't know? (We are fairly new here.)

Instead of teaching independence to the middle schoolers, the academy sounded almost militant. (Not saying there's anything wrong with that, but this is an arts academy, people!) The arts are meant to be deconstructive, free-flowing, creative. THAT is what I had imagined and is why I gave my artistic son this choice in the first place. Such a great, great idea for a free public school option. I think maybe they missed the mark in the execution. I don't know...

The good news? He finished up week 5 at the neighborhood middle school with over a thousand other 6th, 7th and 8th graders (yikes) and is happy as a clam! He talked non-stop about his first day, his teachers, his classes, and he hopped off the bus that first afternoon with a true spring in his step. I am so relieved. And so glad we were open to change.

Pretty soon now you're gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time

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