Don’t you wish kids really did come with a manual? It would make so many decisions in life easier. I don’t know about you, but I try really hard to make the “right” choice every time (and fail miserably most of the time). It is not easy to be parent these days and sometimes the number of choices is overwhelming. The last few months my husband, son, and I have been trying to decide where he should go for middle school.
Currently, my son attends a Two-Way Spanish Immersion Program (TWIP) in our district. He has been learning to speak, read, and write in both English and Spanish. My husband and I speak very limited Spanish, but that hasn’t hindered our sons ability at all. In fact, by the end of kindergarten, our son had already surpassed our three years of high school Spanish.
I have had a love/hate relationship with his current school. The school, like so many public schools, are focused on test scores and No Child Left Behind Act, they loose site of the individual child’s needs and any critical thinking skills. Administrators look at the test scores first and the child a distant last. Based on their assessments of my son, he isn’t a good reader because he doesn’t read X amount of word in a minute fast enough. However, upon carefully looking at my son, he reads slow, but COMPREHENDS everything. Since comprehension is the goal, I don’t care how fast he reads. The problem was, their tests scores started to upset my son. So Mama Bear had to come out and protect my son from their unnecessary pressure and he was fine.
That approach has been fine, but middle school teachers aren’t going to be so open to my back off my son approach. So I have been a little reluctant to send my son to the middle school which continues his TWIP. Also, the district chose one of the lower performing middle schools to place the TWIP to boost test scores. All in all, it doesn’t make me very excited to send him there. I was thankful, when my son expressed that he didn’t want to go either.
So I pressed my son about what he wanted to do. Then he secretly confided in my his desire to go to a Catholic School and have Catholic friends. He had great friends who were Christian, but no one who he could share his Catholic faith with. Also, I secretly have always wished to have him in private Catholic School. The faith formation at our parish leaves a lot to be desired and wish he could have more in depth Catechism like a private school could provide. I was so proud of him for expressing his need for Catholic friends, but wasn’t quite as excited about the financial burden that private school would put on this single income family of four. However, I felt I needed to honor his request.
So we set out looking at private Catholic Schools in our area. I wish I could say I loved what I saw at our local private schools, but I didn’t. The schools were top notch, don’t get me wrong. He would get a great academic education. The faith part of the education was fine too. However, the schools bring in a large number of families who are financially very comfortable. Yes, there are a few families like mine, but most are very privileged. I felt out of my league there. My son didn’t seem to notice, so I had to keep my mouth shut. If we decided to send him here over the public school, I knew we were trading lower performing school problems for problems that come from a life of privilege. I wasn’t comfortable with it either, but my son was so excited to go to the private school.
Then the strangest thing (PRAYER) happened. When we got the acceptance letter for private school, he wasn’t excited anymore. He knew if he attended the private school that he would be leaving his high level Spanish program behind. He wanted to keep his Spanish going. On the other hand, he didn’t want to go to the public school because he wanted a Catholic education that involved prayer and friends like him. He was frustrated that he would have to choose.
Then we explored home schooling as an option. If I taught him at home, he wouldn’t have to choose. He really could have it all. I would find a tutor/teacher to keep his Spanish program going, and I could teach him sound Catholic theology like he wanted. I found an amazing Catholic Homeschool group with tons of boys his age. The idea of fewer hours to accomplish school goals and no homework have been alluring for both of us. I know I can do this, since once a upon a time I WAS a middle school teacher. The more we talked about it, the better it sounded.
So the decision has been made, my husband and I together will homeschool our son in order to give him a school where he doesn’t have to sacrifice what he wants to learn. It is going to be an adjustment for all of us. I am excited and so at peace with this decision. I know that God is leading us down this path.
I do slightly worry about others’ reaction to our decision. I used to have a low opinion of those who homeschooled myself. I used to think that they were over protective parents who tried to shelter their kids to the point that it was harmful to their social development. I am not homeschooling my son out of fear, but now that I am a parent, I don’t deny that by being at home he will be sheltered from some of the nasty parts of being in middle school. I am so thankful that homeschooling is so popular right now that there are a ton of support groups for socialization.
Bottom line, I am excited about this new adventure. Now I have 5 months to put the most amazing curriculum together for my son. I will continue praying and letting the Holy Spirit guide this process. How cool is it to create the perfect school for my son. So excited!!