Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School...sort of

Last year at this time, I was really excited to start the adventure of homeschooling Owen and Sammy (grades 3 and 1).  I looked forward to learning with them and really allowing them the freedom to explore their individual interests and learn at their own pace.  However, it didn't take long for ME to learn a few things:

1.  I bit off WAY more than I could chew, with the business getting started and the two little boys needing attention.
2.  Owen and Sammy's main interest is electronics:  TV, the Wii, computer games, etc.
3.  I had no idea what I was doing with creating my own curriculum.  What was I thinking???

So I sent them back to traditional school after Christmas last year.  It was a knee-jerk reaction and one I felt guilty about almost immediately.  It was the easy way out for sure, and neither of them benefited from it.  (The only one who DID benefit from it was William, who learned to read since I had so much more time on my hands! YAY!)

At the end of the school year, I was frustrated - VERY frustrated - especially about Sammy's situation.  He has ALWAYS been incredibly smart but that has been a detrement to him in school because it makes him very BORED.  When I met with his teacher after he started back to the school, I told her he was bored and she seemed so surprised.  She told me I could nominate him for the Gifted and Talented program, which we had never been told about before.  I was pretty surprised that neither his kindergarten teacher or this first grade teacher had nominated him - didn't they see what was so plain to us and everyone else we knew?  So I nominated him and they were going to test him.  I waited...and waited...and waited.  THREE MONTHS later, I got a call from the lady who runs the program.  They FINALLY tested him and he was pretty much off the charts.  But by then it was May and the school year was all but over.  He would get more testing in the fall to see if they need to even potentially bump him up into 3rd grade, but there was nothing they could do for him until then.  By that point, Sammy was practically BEGGING me to not have to go back to school.

And Owen...well, that's a different story.  He is also bright academically, but has a lot of problems focusing.  He has been having social problems as well, mostly because he's a bit immature for his age (plus he's one of the youngest kids in his class due to his July birthday).  He was all gung-ho to go back to school, but Chris and I were very concerned about him being bullied in the 4th grade.

Because of all this, we are going to try virtual school this year.  I am hoping this is the solution to both boys' issues.  I am to be their "learning coach" so I won't have to come up with lesson plans or anything, but am just to help them complete their schoolwork every day.  They are excited about the idea of being able to finish sooner each day and then have their own time.  This is something they struggled with - no matter how quickly they breezed through their work at school, that bus wasn't coming any earlier, so they would get bored and weren't motivated.  (I can totally relate from my past job, where I would sit and watch the clock for the last two hours of the day sometimes.)

We have enrolled them with Wisconsin Virtual Academy and they start after Labor Day.  Soon, we will receive computers in the mail, as well as all other supplies needed.  I just need to get our school room organized and ready for them so they feel like they have a designated classroom here at home.

I have decided to take William to traditional preschool this year, mostly to give us a quieter atmosphere for the boys to do their work.  It's 5 days a week for 3 hours in the morning and he will most certainly LOVE it!  I hope he will be going to traditional kindergarten next year, but he might be alone on the bus if his older brothers prefer to stick with virtual school.  We are taking it one year at a time now and just trying to find the right fit for each of them. 

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