Friday, August 21, 2015

Eisley's 1st Day of {Homeschool} School

Homeschool School

We've made some happy changes to our homeschooling style...

Just a few short weeks ago I was scrolling through the Nextdoor app {download it! if you're a glutton for drama and conflict} when I noticed a post about homeschooling and there I learned about the Denver Options program. All the other moms on the homeschooling post seemed to say the same thing, "We homeschool and do Denver Options!" All of them.

So I asked around a bit and became intrigued, hearing nothing but rave reviews about this program, which is actually ran by--GASP!--public schools.

Which is to say, it's free. Except for the yearbook fee. And by "free" I mean, paid by our taxes. So, really, it's guilt-free.

Among all the ignorant things you hear people who've never researched homeschooling say, "Children need to learn to line up and sit at desks!" is a frequent one. I don't know who started this rumor that if your child reaches 18 without learning how to stand. in a line. they're doomed. It's ridiculous.

While I've brushed that sort of lacking logic off many a time, I'll be perfectly honest and admit there is a part of the school experience that I wish I could give my kids via homeschooling. But I can't.

Everyone remembers their school days in the form of cafeteria lunches, games of dodge ball in P.E., and field trips. Those are often fond memories, and there has been a part of me that has hurt in the idea of my kids missing out on them. But it was all for the greater good, I told myself.

Enter Denver Options. It's a school for homeschooling families, and it's a one-day-a-week thing. Ends up being 20% of your child's school year. When I heard about it, I immediately wanted to learn more and I contacted the director. There was a wait-list, according to the website. Shoot.

Long story short, Eisley was able to squeeze into the first grade Friday class. We are SO excited. We feel like this is the perfect enrichment program for our family and style of schooling.

Yes, she just turned 7, but for a number of reasons we've held her back a bit. Part of it is due to her mild speech delay (though she "graduated" out of speech therapy over a year ago, and to be clear this is not a speech impediment nor is it a learning disorder, she was just slower with the speaking skills and still sometimes slips up a bit in the form of a "What did she said?"). Another aspect is that Eisley is very small for her age, usually 5-15th percentiles on height and weight, and finally, that old advice on when to push your young child into a class early or hold off and send an older child next year...we decided we'd rather her be a "chief" than an "Indian".

Excuse me. Native American.

But she's really becoming a good reader and her math skills are strong so she's in the right place, we're confident of that.

I'd never heard of Options, but it's been around a while. The director told me she has 12th graders who she had in Kindergarten at Options. But it's growing, too. They added the Friday class in recent years due to demand. And last year the Friday enrollment was just 40-50 kids. This year it's 90.

This year, Eisley will attend all day once a week and her schedule includes: P.E., music, drama, language arts, and afternoons of general schooling {math and stuff, I imagine}. For their older children, they have all sorts of classes from robotics to foreign languages to AmeriTowne programs.

The best part is, all the kids at Options are homeschooling kids. It's run by public schools, but it's not like Eisley will be showing up one day a week to learn alongside public school kids who all know each other.

Also, their information says that they avoid controversial issues in their classes (think evolution vs. creationism) and respect homeschooling needs. Okay, I had my doubts. I'll be honest. We signed up, but with reservations, because I am always concerned when it comes to involving my family and children in "the system". I'm a little bit grass roots like that. Don't want the government getting all up in my business. But Options required me signing into the public school website to register my child. Oh, the nerve...

I was nervous until we showed up to the watermelon welcome, teacher-meet-and-greet last week that I was walking into a program that might have ulterior motives. But then, I got to meet most of the teachers at this small school program. Virtually ALL of them said something  along the lines of, "I home-schooled my children, we attended Options and now they're in high school!" Most of these teachers are accredited teachers...who also chose to homeschool. So instead, as I've met other families and the staff, I've started to feel like finally, I've found my people. I'd been searching for a homeschool co-op or umbrella school that fit us well, but nothing. Until now.

Today I drove Eisley over for her first day, Orientation Day. The  drive took less than 10 minutes, Options operates out of a large baptist church (I'm tickled by the fact that Bible verses adorn the hallways and classrooms). They seem to pride themselves on safety (roll call on the hour and locked doors at all times) and focus on providing what homeschooling families can't do as well on their own. So Eisley will get that classroom experience after all. Hopefully all goes well!

***

So how was her first day in a school environment?

It could not have gone better. She tends to fret, like her mother. I expected her to be nervous, especially when it came to leaving her alone there.

Instead, I had barely parked the car when Eisley un-clicked her seat belt and said, "Okay, I'll see you later!" But it was orientation day so we had to get in and sign paperwork. Tons of families with tons of children, but you'd be surprised at how calm and quiet all the children were. {Homeschool thing? Or are all kids like this on the first day of school? These are the things I don't know.}

When it came time for us to leave her with her other 1st grade teacher, the only one who had trouble was Pax! Have I mentioned, Eisley and Pax are seriously bonded? Options also has field trips for preschoolers, preschool for Violet once a month (sadly, she doesn't qualify for kindergarten yet since she's 4}, and a parent's lounge where parents can socialize and meet other homeschooling families.

Today was a shorter day and we met her to have lunch with her and her new classmates. Eisley's teacher said she did great. She seemed to enjoy herself. She hugged new friends before we left. It was sweet. {There are 9 girls and 4 boys in her class. Almost all the girls have E names.}

I will say, she was noticeably exhausted as we drove home. Her brain seemed a bit fried, most definitely more than usual. I am sure this is the thing that comes with the all-day schooling regimen.

Look, there are pros and cons to BOTH and no one method is right for every family, but I think this is one pro of homeschooling: it usually doesn't take more than an hour or two each day, and your child has plenty of down-time, me-time, and explore-the-backyard time. Even kids need alone time, and Eisley is definitely used to that. I think that 7 hours 5 days a week of non-stop school each week can wear a kid out, understandably. I'm not saying it's bad or wrong, just different and maybe one of the perks of homeschooling.

Anyway, now you know, if you see me post things about "school" and wonder if we're still homeschooling the answer is YES. We are. {And it's going well, thanks for asking. We've really hit our stride lately.} But like the other families on Nextdoor, I can now also say we homeschool and attend Denver Options. We feel like we're getting the best of both worlds.

And we're thrilled about it.

Cheers,
Heather

 P.S. That's a slideshow at the top there, you.

1 comment:

  1. This is an awesome option for homeschooling! I bet she looks forward to it every week. I totally get what you're saying about 5 days a week of all day school can be exhausting for kids. And the homework? The amount of homework that Maddie and Alex had during KINDERGARTEN was crazy! Hopefully Maddie doesn't read your part about 1 or two hours a day :-) I always told her I didn't have time to homeschool her. HA!!

    Erica

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