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Monday, 14 May 2012
Thank you for all of your feedback on my first post about our journey to homeschooling. ♥
It is so helpful and interesting to hear from different voices and experiences.

As I said in the last post (well, the first post, technically)~ the previous post! I am writing out our journey to homeschooling for our 6.5 year old daughter.  I have a lot of reflections I want to sift through, so I am breaking the story down into several posts.

This post is about how we made the actual transition out of school and into our chosen curriculuum~ how we crossed our 't's and dotted our 'i's so to speak.

Once we realized that we needed to withdraw our daughter from school for her mental health (and frankly, our own!) the scope of the responsibility involved really kicked in.

We knew that while Rowan is a very bright child, excelling in her reading and creative skills, her travels through school had been fraught with anxiety, and her learning overridden by her coping skills which manifested themselves in inattention, slow transitions (often missing portions of lessons and activities) and defensive actions like collecting rocks or bits of refuse and examining them to the exclusion of her outer environment.  So we decided that to ensure she had her basic skills AND to let her begin homeschooling with a strong feeling of competence and success, we would 'restart' Grade One.

Our search for a curriculum and an educational approach began.
Knowing that Andy would be the primary teacher for the core subjects, a printed curriculum seemed to be the way to go~ something offering clear direction and teacher support.

Waldorf was an obvious choice for us, but given that Rowan had almost 3 years of traditional schooling, we felt that the philosophical divergences would require too much backtracking.
Both Classical and Charlotte Mason style education are appealing, but at this stage we wanted to work on drawing out our daughter's creative spirit and healing her self esteem and confidence~ so we put them in our back pocket for consideration later.
While we are Christians, most of the faith based programs are far more conservative than we are and we prefer to continue our Christian education as an integral part of our living, so weren't seeking a faith based option.
Given a preference for minimal screen time for a child who easily loses herself in the overwhelming world of the internet and the flashiness of children's programs, online options were not ideal.
And we didn't feel confident enough, yet, to call ourselves 'eclectic'!

And then we found Oak Meadow.
Waldorf style, but curriculum based, with an enrollment option which would solve any tricky problems later on with transcripts and records.
Emphasis on the feeling and rhythm aspects of the primary aged child's development.
Rooted in nature and creativity.
Hello love!♥
(I will say more about OM in a later post).
We purchased the Grade One package (we didn't enroll).

Another aspect of our preparation was to meet with Rowan's teacher and the special ed/ literacy teacher at the school. They are both wonderful women who love teaching, and were kind and generous in sharing where the children had been so far and where Rowan in particular should be headed in relation to the curriculum for Grade One.
For Ontario families, you can view/ print the entire curriculum online.
(note: each grade is embedded in the larger document for all grades, and divided by subject areas, so you have to do some selective sifting)

I did this, read it over, and then met with the Grade One teacher to ensure I understood the basic premises and principles and that I got a few pointers about the 'new' math (or is it the new NEW math?).
We laid out the OM curriculum alongside the Ontario one to test for coherence.
So far so good!

In the meantime, we spoke with Rowan about the transition that was coming.
She was excited, if not really understanding!
We kept it very low key, not making any final decisions until we had a chance to try things out at home
At the school, we simply let them know that Rowan was taking a break following the March Break.
Which we did, including the March break, that gave us 3 weeks before we had to notify the Board about our intentions. We didn't actually *know* this (as in, the principal did not communicate this when I told her we intended to try out homeschooling)~ if I hadn't gone in to the school just prior to our 15 days of absence allowed, we would have been truant and in violation of the provincial education statutes. 

As it was, we got the paperwork and sent it in.
The paperwork was rather fascinating.
And hostile.
It was a single page upon which you had to sign your child out of the Board's services and into your own, committing to providing an education in line with the multi-page appendices about the rights of children to receive an education.
I totally understand and applaud the vehemence around children's rights, and I am grateful to live in a place where they are so firmly upheld!
It was the overall tone of the documents~ that you are making a poor decision by homeschooling, and that your child will lack, even suffer for it~ that left a bad taste in my mouth.
And that it was all or nothing.
Either your child is in the 'care' of the Board or utterly cast out. 
There is no sharing of resources, no support.

The challenge of  'no support' is that nearly all of the services for children are funneled through the schools and the system is not set up to provide services outside of those parameters (ie Occupational Therapy).
On the other hand, a clear break means that families have the freedom to choose how their children are educated without interference or direction from the School Board.
It is a trade off that families do not take lightly, I am sure, so the negativity surrounding the transition is a tad offensive, but not surprising.

I'll stop there for now ♥.
I'll be back soon with a post about de-schooling!


Mama Goose said...

I really like what you say about Charlotte Mason and Classical. I like those methods too, and have read a great deal about CM in particular, but I, too, sort of have them in my back pocket. Children of this age do need creative education, and as I travel this journey, I am beginning to notice that those that don't have that creative outlet while still young, often don't learn to have it later. The way in which we see the world is something that is developed during the formative years, and while not set in stone, of course, does influence us in our later years. I have used Oak Meadow also, and it is a nice mix of holistic methods and state-aligned curricula. The children need to see the world with awe and wonder, it is something that once it is gone, is gone, at least it seems that way for many, who rush from one activity to the next.

Marsha said...

We decided to use the Oak Meadow curriculum for our children next year as well. Would be interested in your thoughts on it after you get through some of it.
As for public schools, I do know that here in our province (NS) there are homeschooled children who are admitted to school for Gym, French, etc. I do not think they can deny you.

Kerstin said...

We used Oak Meadow for one year and afterwards for some subjects. It is really lovely for the early grades! One thing I had to learn the hard way was not to be afraid to switch to a different curriculum, or to modify/ignore parts of a curriculum to suit your child's needs. My two children ended up using entirely different materials for elementary grades! Oh it's such a fun journey you are starting! :)

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