In California, our children attended exceptional public elementary schools and up until recently, it had been smooth sailing with their academics. As parents, we were content and able to trust the process, teachers, school and curriculum knowing they were receiving a high quality education. Eventually though, there was a shift once our oldest began sixth grade at the local middle school. She was challenged but being an introverted child, often times she was dismissed and left on her own because she followed the rules. With larger class sizes came a slower pace of work and teaching became less focused on the individual and more on the group.
At the same time my kids attended public school, I was fortunate to teach ELA at private K-8 school. In my middle school classroom, we could read a book every three weeks, write in abundance and I could truly give my students the feedback and attention they deserved. Seeing the benefits of a small class size, my husband and I toyed with the idea of moving our oldest to my school, as it would have given her the attention she needed.
While we contemplated a school change, my husband ended up taking a job in Nova Scotia, which placed us on a new academic journey. The transition to a new country mid year was challenging but we made the decision to homeschool the kids for the remainder of the school year. I consider the five months I taught my kids at home a gift and will look back fondly on that time we had together. It also made me realize homeschooling gets a bad rap. Heck, even I was quick to judge or stereotype homeschoolers, but not until we actually tried it did I realize the benefits. I was able to tailor a curriculum to meet the needs of each of my kids. I could explore topics based on their interests, challenge them and was able to teach to my “whole” child. It was exciting and for the most part, seamless, insightful and fun.
Eventually our kids started public school and aside from our son who is in French Immersion, we find the curriculum for the girls to be somewhat outdated and undemanding. The girls spark for learning seems somewhat stifled and they express daily that they do not feel challenged. With that being said, they love their friends, their teachers, the small classrooms and being part of a school community which for us, carries great weight. The kids are emotionally and socially content which is why we continue the public school route.
Incidentally, I never want my platform on this site to be one that bashes our local schools, as I can name numerous things I am thankful for (most notably wonderful, loving and hardworking teachers) within the school system. I started The Extra School Mom to address issues all parents have, no matter where we live in the world. Even in the states, parents and friends would come to me with an array of concerns about their child’s education. As a result, I became a good listener and sounding board for parents who were frustrated and looking for “extra” options and opportunities for their child.
“Betsy, my son hates reading. What do I do?”
“How can I make school work at home enjoyable?”
“What resources are available if my daughter needs help with Algebra?”
“My child’s teacher just lectures and my daughter doesn’t get her note taking requirements so now she is falling behind in class.”
“My son can’t seem to focus.”
“What can I do to help my child improve their writing?”
Although I would have a specific answer for each of these questions, my advice always ended with “You are your child’s number one educator”. Whether your child needs help catching up, or more challenge, you can assist your child more than you think. Remember, the academic success of your child begins at home and there is a multitude of resources and services to help you along the way.