On September 5th my son will be attending his first day of school. As in not homeschool. As in I will now have six hours a day, five days a week, to write and do whatever else I need to do in order to keep my life together. Part of me still doesn’t believe it and maybe I shouldn’t believe it but something tells me that this school is the right place for him. Their curriculum and educational strategy is extremely unique. It’s a combination of Montessori and traditional education. They take the public school’s educational standards for each grade level and use that as the lowest of their expectations. They then put together a list of language arts disciplines (reading, writing and so on) a list of mathematical disciplines and a list of science disciplines. Every morning each child is allowed to pick one thing on each list and they then proceed to work on it independently at whatever level they’re at. The teachers adjust the list daily to ensure that each kid gets a well rounded and balanced education. One of the goals is to ensure that every child is able to easily transition into a more traditional school once they've graduated from this one. There are lots of group activities too, although they mostly involve art, music, physical activities and the like and they all take place later in the day. There is never more than 12 kids in a class and the school is located on a Buddhist Retreat (although the school is secular and run independently) and the grounds are spectacular.
Anyway, they had an unexpected spot open and after an extensive phone conversation with me about my son and his academics and personality they gave him three days free in their summer camp so they would have some time to observe him and work with him. He LOVED it and while they saw how he could be challenging they also were able to work with him and were thrilled by how quickly he took to their independent study program, requesting help when he needed it and focusing on the task at hand. He didn’t have to worry about his handwriting abilities keeping him from being able to record information at the same rate as his classmates. He wasn’t bored (read disruptive) during a lesson that was too easy for him. He felt a certain amount of empowerment by having some say in what he was going to be doing…it was great! Of course it was also camp and while they did some educational stuff it mostly involved music, reading, swimming, theater and so on. Not a lot of long-division going on. But still, I’m hopeful which is a lot more than I could have said two weeks ago. The tuition is doable although the field trips might break me. Seems last years trips included private tours of the SF Moma and tickets to Cirque De Soleil. But hey, what kid doesn’t need to see a bunch of French Canadians twist themselves into pretzels?
To top it all off my son's teacher is Buddhist and one of the five tenets of that religion is patience. So she HAS to put up with my son. It’s literally against her religion not to. I personally think this should be part of a “Worst Case Scenario” handbook: if your kid is majorly high maintenance and drives all his teachers crazy, give him to the Buddhists.
It works for me. Hopefully it will work for my son too.
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