I live in a smaller town, so the possibility of finding other charter schools, getting together with other like-minded parents, or forming some kind of hybrid co-op is close to zero. And I just don't have time to start a charter school (nor would this community likely support one).
A few months ago, I learned that my state has now adopted the K12 program, which is administered as a public online charter school through a state university. I was really excited and thought that this might be the answer to some of my schooling dilemmas. If I was going to home school, I knew I'd need a pre-made curriculum. There's no way I have time to research and plan--as well as teach--a whole year's schooling. Registration was only open for a 2-week window, so I signed Zari up and felt good that at least we had that option.
Fast forward to now: we received all of her supplies a few weeks ago. The K12 program has officially started, and we've done several full days of lessons. But...but...
I still feel really unsure of what to do with Zari this year. While I can get through the full day's lessons in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, I am worried that it's still adding too much to my plate. Eric is quite unenthusiastic about home schooling, even with the K12 program, and I would need his support to do it well. I am teaching again this fall, so he'd have to take over teaching 3 mornings a week until I get home.
To give you an idea of what I have going on in my life:
- I am raising children ages 1, 3, and 5
- I am teaching one class per semester at the local liberal arts college
- I usually travel to one academic conference per semester
- We are renovating our house
- We own and manage 3 other properties: our old house, a triplex, and a 5-plex
- I make and sell slings
- I do the majority of housework, errand-running & cooking, since Eric teaches full-time
- I blog here!
Because of my concerns about overburdening myself, I've still been open to public schooling. We brought Zari to school registration this Monday. Public school starts in a week, so I have time to get a feel for the K12 program and lifestyle before I *really* have to make a decision. I talked to the elementary school principal, and there is absolutely no flexibility on doing half-day kindergarten. None. Lots of talk about "how much work there is to be done" and "academic achievement" and "rigorous standards." I have to admit--I'm old-school. I grew up doing half-day kindergarten, and I have a really hard time accepting the need for full-day schooling for 5-year-olds.
It looks like Zari will be placed in the accelerated classroom, which has slightly smaller class sizes and works at a faster pace. I think that would be good for Zari, since she does better when something is challenging than when it's too easy and boring.
But I still have strong reservations. I have an anti-institituional streak in me about a mile wide, in case you haven't noticed. It's not that I'm anti-education. I have 2 master's degrees and one PhD! But I still resist the idea of giving my child over to an institution, with its rules and policies and culture.
On the other hand, Zari is a very talkative, active, outgoing child, and I think she would love being in public school. I am not sure that doing the K12 program this year would provide her with enough interaction and fun experiences. (And no, I can't add more to my plate and do extracurriculars on top of my schedule and on top of homeschooling. Simply too much.) That brings me back to public school.
So there you go. I can only delay this decision for another week, and then I really, truly have to commit to something. At least for a year, since I don't think you can go back into the K12 program until the following school year.
If I do choose public school, we've talked about implementing a few routines into our day:
- Eric or I will walk/bike to and from school with her. It's exactly 1 km away, so it would give us some one-on-one time with her every day. And more exercise and outdoor time for all of us!
- As soon as Zari gets home, it will be outside play time for the whole family to make sure she gets plenty of exercise and unstructured play. There are 2 short recess breaks at school (~15 min) plus 30 minutes total for lunch & recess. It's some, but not enough for an active child.