Touring Schools Next Week

Discussion in 'General' started by BellaRissa, May 5, 2012.

  1. BellaRissa

    BellaRissa Well-Known Member

    I'll be visiting FL next week to choose a school for the girls. My most desired outcome is a "Parent Directed Education" school which has 2-3 days a week in the classroom & 2-3 days being homeschooled. I've enjoyed the structure of a classroom for my girls, they love the opportunity to be with other kids & a teacher, & I like that they are able to earn rewards, awards & grades.

    Can anyone suggest some questions I should ask when I'm interviewing the school administrators? What should I look for in the curriculum? In the classroom? In the teacher?

    All 3 "homeschool" programs are different - one doesn't teach math or ELA - just science, social studies, Bible, history. One doesn't manage all the grades, testing, state requirements for recordkeeping. One does it all but is twice as expensive. I'm also touring & interviewing 2 traditional Christian schools - any suggestions about what to look for?

    If you could give me a statement of why homeschooling is best I would appreciate it!

    Thanks for all your help!
  2. Dielle

    Dielle Well-Known Member

    The only parent-partner programs like you're describing that I've heard of near me are either run with public school funding (called an ALE in our state, and vary greatly from program to program) or are a co-op where the parents are required to teach or help out in class rooms, and it usually is only 1 day/week.

    I think the "why homeschooling is best" question will vary from family to family. I don't have time to type it all out right now, but I'll come back and let you know at least some of the reasons why it's best for our family.
  3. BellaRissa

    BellaRissa Well-Known Member

    I look forward to hearing why homeschooling is your choice. Neither of the schools I'm looking at are publically funded - they are private Christian schools. Nor do parents teach - I think, for one, it was that way in the beginning, but they have FT teachers on staff. I would like to trade teaching for a tuition reduction :)
  4. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    I am a huge advocate for differentiated instruction so my question would be how does the school ensure that all students needs are being met. Do they do guided reading/small group math?
  5. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    I just noticed this was the homeschooling forum! Sorry! I do not homeschool but I still thing that is a good question to ask of any school! :)
  6. BellaRissa

    BellaRissa Well-Known Member

    I agree it is a good question - my twins are at slightly different levels so they need different instruction. I'll have them at home 2-3 days a week so I'll be intimately aware of their work & able to adjust to their needs.
  7. Dielle

    Dielle Well-Known Member

    Ok, so some of why homeschooling is best for my family...

    First off, I am a religious and spiritual person and while this won't hold water with a lot of people, I have to say that I felt strongly led to homeschool when my oldest was about 3. A few different times in the last 10-11 years, I've had that confirmed for me. So that's a biggie. It doesn't mean I feel like a better or more righteous person than someone who doesn't homeschool, just that it is the right choice for our family.

    It is better for us because I know my children really well and can teach them in the ways that work best with their personalities, skills, etc. For instance, I have a son who is dyslexic and didn't read until about 9. Now at 12, though he's still not a fast reader, he's FAR above grade level with the things he's able to read and comprehend. He never got labeled as a slow or late reader, we just worked at his pace until things finally clicked with him. I did do a lot of study and research and prayer to find things that would work well for him, and he's doing great. He is also very talented in a spatial/mechanical way that I will just never be. I'm able to use that when he learns other things, and also give him plenty of time to build on that (no pun intended). My other children have different strengths and abilities. And while there are fabulous teachers in our schools and I do believe that most teachers really do what they do for all the right reasons, I believe that a class of 25 kids and all the mandates from various levels of government and the school district, hinder them from being able to teach to my child's specific strengths and weaknesses.

    One of the big concerns I hear from people against homeschooling is that 1 parent couldn't possibly teach all the subjects. That's not a valid argument for me for a few reasons. First off, you don't always get the best or specialized teachers in school. I had a history teacher who was really the biology teacher, but the history teacher quit so we got stuck with him. In another school my history teacher had retired and was quite batty, but they needed someone so talked her into returning to teaching... it was a complete waste of a class. I had a geometry teacher who had a heart attack and we had a long-term sub for 3 months who was completely clueless when it came to math. On the flip side, one of the great benefits of "home" schooling for me is that I can facilitate my children's education. So far, I've had no problem teaching them most everything. But if there's something I can't, I am able to find a great alternative. My oldest has been taking a couple of classes with other homeschooled kids for the last 2 years. I've been so impressed with the quality of her classes and what she's learned. She took 2 Shakespeare classes, where she's been required to read 30+ Shakespeare plays, studied 2 in depth and performed in 2 (well, their performance of Much Ado About Nothing is next week). She also took history and civics courses where she studied the Revolution, The Civil War and World War II. They also went in depth into the Constitution, even journaling the entire thing in their own words and then ending the class with a Constitution Bowl where they competed against other students. She also has plenty of time to play the piano a few hours a day, which is her real love. She's starting to teach her little sisters and is planning on possibly taking on other students in the fall. Her instructor is now teaching her how to teach, in addition to her regular piano studies. These are things that kids might get or have access to in the best schools, but I can help make sure they really happen.

    I don't actually believe that 7-8 hours in a classroom with 25 other children the same age, where you have to raise your hand to speak or ask permission to use the bathroom, actually leads to positive socialization. There aren't many times as an adult that I was ever in a situation like that (I can't actually think of one offhand). My kids are comfortable talking with adults (well, except for Sabrina who is quite shy), they play well with kids a wide variety of ages, they spend time out and about in life. They also do have some "classroom" time at church and know how to wait in line, raise their hands, etc... so for those who worry about those skills for whatever reason, they've got them. And I get compliments on them often, so I'm pretty sure I'm not raising hooligans, LOL.

    My kids don't have to spend 7-8 hours/day plus an hour or two on the bus and then another hour or two more of homework to get their education. They can get it done in a few hours (though admittedly there are some days they dawdle and we spend time working on attention and focus) and then be outside playing or upstairs building some fantastic contraption, painting or engrossed in whatever book they're currently devouring.

    And I love having the time with them. Yes, there are days when running to the store alone seems like a vacation, but for the most part I love how our family functions and interacts. I've always believed that I'm raising kind, responsible, empathetic and intelligent adults. I love that my older kids are a real part of the younger ones' lives for more than just the weekend. I believe they'll be wonderful parents when they grow up. They're not raising them but we all work together. I also hope they'll care about working to make their country and communities better, and I do believe that it best starts with families. These are all things that are part of the education of my children, and why I believe that homeschooling is best for them.

    Not a nice tidy list, sorry! And I know people who think that they aren't valid reasons (and that I'm completely nuts for doing it), and I know homeschoolers who have a vastly different set of reasons why it's right for them. But they're some of the reasons it works for us.
    2 people like this.
  8. NINI H

    NINI H Well-Known Member

    Dielle, that was beautifully put! I can't really add much more to that list, except that traditional school would not be able to differentiate enough for DS#2, and that being bored would cause massive issues for both he and other students. But we didn't even have him when we decided to homeschool. We have a religious exemption, so that is really a main reason for us. Although, there are many other reasons. I prefer that my children have much more time to just be kids and not worry about tests. They don't have to sit and wait for many other students to get done with their work to move on. They do have to wait every once in a while for their sibling, lol. I do make them complete their work to my satisfaction even if it takes 10 tries. I like that capability.

    There are so many combinations of things you can do to add classes. I really like online programs. I prefer being able to pick and choose the curriculum for each individual child. What works best for one child, might not work as well for another. I like the flexibility to change at any point in time.

    I think if I were to ever add outside classes they would be either art related or possibly science in high school. That is mainly due to supplies for each of those particular subjects being quite costly.

    I would want detailed info on curriculum. I would want to know about discipline practices. In our particular case, I would want to know what their practices are for children who finish their work quickly or who are ahead of the class. Do they just give more busy work? Do they let them work ahead? Or, more importantly to they make them "help" the other students instead of working themselves? That is what I would want to know. But I'm sure there are many more questions you could come up with. :) I hope you enjoy your trip!!!
  9. BellaRissa

    BellaRissa Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much for your insight. Many of your concerns about a classroom's ability to meet each child's needs to the maximum are valid. I want to create as smooth a transition to a new family, a new state, a new town as possible. I felt having the extra time with the girls at home would allow me to shepherd them through the move. I'm excited but nervous....I'm a certified, licensed K-6th grade teacher....but creating the structure & discipline to get everything done is daunting to me. My "students" are great - both are in the gifted & talented program at school, love to learn, & have no issues...but they play me like a fiddle...I'll have to toughen up to make sure they get their work done.

    Do you have a dedicated classroom? I plan on using the bedroom next to the girls....putting 2 desks, an Ikea sofa, bookshelves, media equipment, and computers in the room. Any other suggestions?
  10. Dielle

    Dielle Well-Known Member

    No, no classroom. I do have an area of my dining room with shelves where all the school books we're currently using are, as well as a set of drawers full of supplies, and a tub for each child in their color (each one has an assigned color... mostly their favorite colors and I get their binders and such in that color to help them all keep their stuff straight). But school gets done on the window seat in our library (in our house), on the couch, sitting on a bed or even on the porch swing. Sometimes we're all together doing an experiment. Sometimes we're looking things up on the computer and occasionally they're at the dinner table (mostly for handwriting).
  11. BellaRissa

    BellaRissa Well-Known Member

    I went to all the schools on my list....some were really good, a couple had red flags I couldn't get over. One school sounded great, but the founder/director gave such a disorganized presentation it concerned me. One school was starting an elementary program for the first time next year...he showed me the room they were going to meet in - it looked like a jail cell. One school was a traditional Christian was OK but nothing stood out as outstanding. The school I thought would be "the one" might have been good...but the woman who met with me was not helpful at all. Even after telling her "I'm new at this, I need a lot of help" she answered every question with "That's totally up to you" or "Everyone does it their own way, what's best for their family" - I left thinking I wouldn't be getting any guidance there.

    The school I chose is great...the girls go 2 days a week to classes, I teach the other 2 days from the same curriculum but will be provided enrichment & enhancement material to expand on the lessons at home. On Fridays they have PE, Spanish/Latin, American Girls (cooking, crafts, history & geography based on a different doll every 2-3 weeks), Science Explorations (hands on science lab) and then they go to a gorgeous sports center where they choose from Ice Skating, dance, gymnastics, or basketball lessons. It is a Christian program that believes a parent is the primary teacher & focuses on Bible & character education along with the academics. All parents are required to take an 18 week Christian parenting course within the first year, assist the teacher 3-4 times a semester, & maintain 5 hours parent education hours a year. I was sold on the school but I sent a message out via Facebook asking for feedback. I guy I went to highschool with - has a PhD in Political Science taught history to seniors at the girls' new school for 10 years - he is now a college professor & he gave a glowing recommendation. 4 more people I know have sent their kids there & they love the school. I don't know what the future holds, but for this first year, having 2 days homeschool & 2 days classroom sounds right for me.
    There is a rigourous application & enrollment process...I'll keep you updated on how it goes...& call out for help when I need it! Thanks ladies!
  12. Dielle

    Dielle Well-Known Member

    Sounds like it's exactly what you were looking for!
  13. BellaRissa

    BellaRissa Well-Known Member

    I received our acceptance letter today! We still have to go through the Family Interview & have the girls evaluated.....but I'm really excited !
  14. jenn-

    jenn- Well-Known Member

    Very exciting! I am sure your girls will do fine.
  15. Kessedi

    Kessedi Well-Known Member

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