Friday, March 21, 2008

How We Came to Homeschooling the Way We Do: Part 3

In my last post in this series, I talked about how my daughter wanted to go to kindergarten with her friend but she was too young and how I had been teaching her basic phonics and math concepts at her request. Now it was time to enroll her in kindergarten but I knew that kindergarten wasn't the right placement for her.

How did I know that kindergarten wasn't the correct placement for my daughter? One way I knew was those school newsletter articles I was reading from my son's school. The other was that I researched the GLE's (Grade Level Expectations-our state's definitions of what each child should know by the end of each grade level) and found out that she already knew literally every GLE for kindergarten and had a good start on those for first grade.

So, one day, I grabbed our binder with all of the workbook pages she had completed in the past year and headed off to the local elementary school. My intention was to show the principal the work she had completed to prove to him that she was academically ready for first grade and request that she skip kindergarten altogether. Well, THAT didn't go exactly as planned.

When I walked into the school office I was greeted by one of the not-entirely-friendly women working there. She asked me what I needed and I explained why I was there. I was never allowed the opportunity to talk to the principal. Instead I was sent home with a phone number for someone at the district. When I arrived home, I called the number and reached another not-entirely-friendly person who seemed much too disinterested to really speak to me. When I explained the reason for my call, I was told concisely and curtly that it wasn't going to happen. When I asked if they could test her, the response was that they don't test kids that age. At best, I was told, they would enroll her in kindergarten and monitor her for a month to decide her future. I was given a number to someone who works within the gifted and talented program as a possible avenue to explore. That person never returned any of my calls. It seemed that the school was unwilling to work with me to find the best placement for my daughter.

Now some might say that they were willing to find the best placement because the woman from the district said that they might consider monitoring her first month in kindergarten. I wouldn't consider that a good option at all. First, I was never told that they would monitor and make that decision. I was told AT BEST that would happen. Second, I had problems with that scenario. The way I saw it one of two things would happen.

One possible scenario I saw with that option was that my daughter would be so happy in the presences of other kids (remember she was extremely social), that they'd determine she was fine where she was. This meant she would learn nothing new for the whole year since she had already mastered all of the GLE's being taught. I personally experienced the boredom of being ahead of the class and didn't want that experience for my daughter.

The other possible scenario I saw was that my daughter would indeed get moved to first grade but, since a month had passed, she would be at a disadvantage academically and socially. She would have missed a month of instruction and she would be the new kid in class. Everyone who's ever been to public school knows how hard it can be on the new kid in class. Combine that with the fact that the kids would most likely know that she was moved up from kindergarten and my daughter would be at a severe social disadvantage. She would be the new kid, the smart kid, and the youngest kid in the class. What a nightmare! I cringe thinking about the bullying and teasing she would be subjected to.

I couldn't accept either scenario so, having run into a dead end, I felt I had no other choice but to homeschool. (There are other reasons we homeschool but they, at the time, weren't preventing us from considering public school.) I would have considered private school but there was no hope of affording the tuition costs. Now, I would have to figure out how to homeschool before the next school year began.

Part 1: Before Homeschool
Part 2: Preschool at Home
Part 4: Kindergarten Done the Hard Way

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Michelle Olsen Sasak said...

I know how you felt. I was ready to pull Miss J out of kindergarten after a few weeks because no one was willing to listen to me when I said she already knew it all. I kept her in, hoping they'd move on to something new, but they didn't, and when we moved last March, I kept her home to homeschool her. We've never regretted the decision. Schools don't seem to care if a child is advanced.