Friday, September 13, 2013

adventures of a homeschooler in public school, week two

diana is finishing up her second week of public school.  here's some of what she's experienced so far, in no particular order:

  • orientation.  she was excited to come the first few days and find out where she would sit and keep her belongings and learn "how to learn at school" and find out what the rules are and acclimate herself to her new surroundings, but she was starting to wonder when she'd get to actually learn something.  (it has started, thank goodness.)
  • dress code.  the only thing that bothers her about this is that she's not permitted to wear her lucky hat.  otherwise, she feels comfortable wearing her own style in school.
  • scheduling.  her lunchtime comes late in the day for her.  she's starving by then, especially after recess.  fortunately, she's permitted to have a small snack and water breaks in the morning to keep her blood sugar levels more even (that is, when she remembers to take them).  the nice thing about her schedule, though, is that her recess overlaps with ander's, so they can see each other during the day and it perks ander up so much to spend time with diana and her friends.
  • lateness.  there is a penalty for being tardy.  all my years of admonishing her to "hurry up" has only served to make us both unhappy.  i do hope that our more pleasant and effective habits of building in extra time and not adding extra duties before walking out the door will serve her well in ensuring her timeliness.  as one of my instructors used to say, "be dressed and ready to play" for each and every class, meaning show up on time with your materials and prepare your brain for a mental state of openness to learning.
  • sick days.  when she homeschools, it's easy enough to move things around to accommodate illness.  in public school, there are things she misses or has to catch up on, because things still move forward, even when she cannot participate.  plus, she has to justify her absence.  only a contagious, symptom-full illness is excused in the eyes of the system.  she's taking a sick day today with a fever and cough and nasal congestion that makes her dizzy.  she didn't want to miss school, as she was looking forward to taking a quiz that she's studied hard for, but understood it would not be fair to spread her germs to her classmates and teachers.
  • multiple teachers, multiple classrooms.  she's used to going to different people and places to guide her lessons, so that's not too big of a deal.  she gets a little confused trying to keep track of when she is to go where, so she appreciates reminders from her teachers, and she's learning to use a written organizer to help herself in some semblance of order.
  • differentiated learning.  there's already separation of students by subject for advanced learning in mathematics.  everyone, though, has access to the advanced academic model for science, which is great.  (plus, the students have access to diana, who had to "educate" her small group members about the fact that science is a process, not a thing.  her teacher was enthusiastically supportive of this.)
  • extreme hermione hands are not welcome.  you know, how she practically climbs upon her desk in snape's class to be recognized and called upon for an answer.  diana may sit quietly and raise her in a calm manner, not enthusiastically clawing her way to the ceiling.  that will prove to be an effort.  (we coined the phrase here at home but do not refer to it in school that way.)
  • relatively little homework.  in fact, none in the first week.  unlike many students she's heard about, she actually looks forward to homework.  admittedly, it helps when the assignments includes reading something challenging of her own choice, which is an activity she already likes to do, so it's not really work and she gets credit for it.
  • PE class is more of a health class.  she understands that's probably the most appropriate place for health education to happen at school, but she was expecting to be more physical in phys. ed. she also noted that one of her teachers has a beard like hagrid's that students can get lost in if they're not careful.
  • library.  she likes that there is a school library and a book selection in her classroom.  she looks forward to her rotation as a library assistant (she does want to be a librarian, among other vocations, when she's out on her own) and hopes to see me there.  i signed up through the pta to be a volunteer librarian; we'll see if that works out for me.
  • student government.  diana decided to run for office as class representative.  although she did not win the election, she was pretty excited about the possibilities and felt that the process and results were fair.  she took a chance on a different way of campaigning: instead of talking about herself and her interests, she focused on the greatness of the class and how she would strive to help it continue to improve.
  • social hierarchy.  she was informed by a classmate about how things work at school.  there's a "popular" crowd and then everybody else.  and it only applies to the girls in the 5th and 6th grades, and the girls from the younger grades all look up to them and hope to be them someday.  apparently, the vote is still out on whether diana will be considered popular.  she hopes that she won't be, because she doesn't care for the way some of the "popular" kids tend to look haughtily on others.  she told me, though, that not all of them do that, so she thinks that's good, and appreciated that there isn't an apparent "outcast" group and that the boys don't participate in the "popular" differentiation.  diana figures that if she's considered popular, it will be because she's weird, but her friend assured her that she'd be known as "the nice one."
  • recharging.  she does need alone time to recharge after school, having expended all of her social energy being with others all day.  her only real time to talk freely with others is in the lunchroom, where it is noisy and crowded and hard to hear and people eat with horrid table manners, or at recess, which is the time of day when ander can be comforted by seeing and playing with her.  so, after arriving home, she usually wants to sit in her room and read and reconnect with her ratties.
  • string orchestra.  we'd been anticipating the selection of an instrument to practice this year with some trepidation.  diana already has a few years of piano under her belt and was hoping to continue, but the school does not offer piano instruction.  she then turned to flute, having heard that piano players tend to do well with flute because of finger dexterity and reach.  plus the case is so darn cute and small.  but, when she heard a harry potter song (hedwig's theme) played on the viola by the strings instructor, she was hooked.  she wants to learn how to play that and the theme song to game of thrones.  forget flute!
  • chorus.  i admit that i was hoping she'd want to try this, but when i asked, she declined and said that i could teach what she needs to know about singing.  while flattering, it was not true - i'm not a vocal instructor and singing alone or in a duet is totally different from singing with a group.  fortunately, the students are all required to try two classes of chorus and then make their decision afterwards.  diana was so pleased with the sound of the whole group together performing a canon and the encouragement that the teacher offered in terms of improving one's individual voice, that she thinks she will join after all.  ah, my heart is overjoyed!  of all the things i had hoped for diana in school, it was to find a group of others with whom she could share a common interest.  i believe she will find it here, just as i did during my school years and beyond.
she's also discovered some things about herself:
  • she doesn't mind getting up in front of a small group to "perform."  she's anxious about getting in front of a crowd to play piano or dance or sing, but standing up and presenting to a room full of classmates is not a big deal.  in fact, one of the reasons that she ran for student government was the opportunity to hone her public speaking skills.  (mind you, she decided to to this on. her. own.  not me suggesting or urging or persuading.  she's at a level of self-awareness and self-confidence and maturity that she sees on her own what she'd like to do and takes - or makes - opportunities when they present themselves.  i could not be prouder of her.)
  • she can set trends.  there was a moment in school where everyone was trying on her glasses to see what they were like.  one of her friends remarked that she needed to go and have her eyes checked to make sure she was seeing ok, and lo and behold, that friend is now coming back to school with a pair of purple-framed glasses.
  • how she expresses herself and her choice of education depends upon her audience.  to most of her friends and others more familiar with the public school system, diana describes herself as a public-schooler.  to homeschooling families, though, she said she's really a homeschooler who just happens to be attending public school for her curriculum this year.
diana has realized that being a homeschooler in public school is not such a big deal to anyone in there.  though she knows no one else in school who has been previously homeschooled, she's not been teased or really questioned about it.  to homeschooling friends and families she is a tremendous source of information and a curiosity; they want to know what it's like for her.  i am grateful that she's willing to share her experiences and insights with us.

4 comments:

  1. Way to go, Diana, and way to go Dawn. It sounds like you are both having positive experiences and learning a lot. I know this can't have been an easy decision for you, but it sounds like you're making the most of it. I can't wait to hear more. <3 <3

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  2. Very interesting. I'm glad it's been a mostly good experience for her.

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  3. So glad she's have such a great experience and transitioning to this new adventure so seamlessly. I miss you guys very much and am delighted to hear that things are going well!

    :0)
    Barb

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  4. Happy to hear that Diana's experience is positive overall! She has a big-hearted mama supporting her <3

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