Tuesday, October 02, 2012

What I've Learned From School

Putting the kids into our local parish school after homeschooling for years has been an interesting experience. For the most part, the kids are doing very well. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what I've learned while watching the kids adapt these first several weeks.
  • What I think I "know" about the children may not be true at all. Even before we decided to put the kids into school, I had what I thought was a pretty good idea of which kids would do well, which would struggle and in what areas. Some of those ideas did turn out to be true, but others were entirely incorrect. I thought that Roger with his ADHD would do terribly with the structure of school. Based on his personality and our experiences, I thought that he would be in constant trouble, that he would have social problems, and that he would be miserable. Bob thought much the same thing. We were entirely and completely wrong. His ADHD has caused some problems -- the child can lose an assignment in between his desk and the folder where he's supposed to turn it in -- but he has not had any trouble with the actual structure of school and hasn't had significant problems behaving. He is happy to go to school and has actually complained on the days that they don't have school. Socially, he's doing just fantastic. He has a lot of friends and is really happy. We have seen our assumptions and expectations blown completely out of the water. On the other hand, some of the other kids have struggled in areas where we didn't expect to see them struggle. No matter how much we know our kids, we don't know them perfectly and they can always surprise us.
  • Weaknesses need work.  For years I've operated under the thinking that one of the really big benefits of homeschooling is that things can be adjusted for the students' strengths and weaknesses. Pauly has always struggled with handwriting, and while we've worked on that steadily as its own subject, we made adjustments in other subjects. I didn't want to hold back his learning in science, or social studies, or X, because of his poor handwriting. We regularly did work orally instead of written, or allowed brief answers instead of complete sentences for reading comprehension, and we kept working on handwriting as a subject, waiting for his fine motor skills to improve so he could catch up. I was very worried with his transition into school, because he was behind not only in handwriting, but also in writing skills, I think largely due to our accommodations for handwriting which reduced his writing practice. I wasn't wrong in thinking he was behind, but I was shocked by how quickly his handwriting and writing output improved. In just a week or so there was significant improvement. While we'd consistently tried to work on his handwriting and writing, what he really needed was lots and lots and lots of practice. Making accommodations actually worked against what he really needed.
  • I don't have to control everything, and it doesn't have to be perfect. This is one that I've "known" for a long time, but it can be hard to really believe in it. While I had realized while homeschooling that I needed to "settle" instead of search for perfection in order to maintain my sanity, this is even more true with the kids in school. While overall the academics are good, they haven't necessarily chosen the resources that I would use for each subject. There are particular areas, like the handwriting program they use in the early grades, that I really just don't like at all. I roll my eyes at some of the busywork religion assignments that my fifth grader brings home. I don't like how some of their assignments have been graded. Homeschooling let me be in control of everything, but that's simply not possible now that they're in school. Letting go of some of that control and just relaxing is a good thing.
The kids insist that they don't miss homeschooling. I will admit that I continue to look at curriculum catalogs and reviews. . .


  1. Beautiful, both in sentiment and in truth!

  2. I love this post, Becky! So insightful. I found a lot Of this to be true going the other way (my assumptions were wrong, things I thought were important really weren't, the children completely surprised us in their reactions and abilities). What I hear most from this is that the children (and their parents) are adjusting well and you continue to prove that there just isn't a single way that is the right way. Yay!

  3. Yes, yes and yes. This has been very similar to our experience. Thank you for putting it so nicely.


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