I say "part 1" because I do not think that everything that has been swishing around in my head regarding the boys education can be put into one post...at least it I haven't been able to do it yet. So, this is how my questioning (or at least thinking a lot about) the our public school education started.
Last year in kindy, the older boys went half days. At first I thought I would really want them in full day, but after we hit our groove, I loved it! They went in the mornings and I picked them up at 11:10. We ate lunch and then had the afternoon to follow their interests (what we considered unschooling). We went to the beach, we gardened, we played games, we took walks, cooked, etc. I relied greatly on our homeschooling friends for ideas and guidance on how to follow the boys interests and loved tying in whatever they were learning in their public school classroom with things we were doing at home.
So, then we entered 1st grade...and all h-e-double hockey sticks broke loose. I knew shifting to full day in a classroom would be a change (and a challenge) for both boys. I was ready to greet them off the bus and allow lots of playtime outside to run the energy off that had built up over the day. But what I was not ready for was the two hours of homework that followed their already full school day. They would get off the bus at 2:45, have a quick snack and I would discuss their day with them. And then we would start homework in between 3:15 and 3:30. Not finishing homework until 5 or 5:30. Seriously! Each of them bring home a math worksheet and then have a list of word wall words (sight words) and also a list of spelling words (that fall into word families...like all -an, -ap, -at words). There were sentences to write with their sight words and sorts and more copying of words. And each of the boys had different sets of words I had to keep straight. Ugh! And the teachers were not very good at communicating exactly how homework was to be done...as a first time first grade mom, I had no idea what "rainbow writing" was or what the difference was between a word community was and a word generalization. I still don't for sure.
But all of this left little or no time for outside play. Which any mama of little boys knows they need as much outside time as you can give them. I worked hard to move homework time outdoors on a quilt in the back yard. I came up with outside games to help them get their homework done...like putting their homework at the end of the driveway and having them skateboard from their homework to the other end of the driveway, come back and then write their word. But this took up even more time and to be honest, was exhausting. Not that I didn't continue to work my behind off coming up with clever ways of disguising their work in play. But it was starting to take its toll on my energy and my emotions.
Zane was saying he "hated" school because it wasn't any fun. And Ian even made a comment during homework one day that he just wanted to have time to play with his legos once in awhile. I heard them...and I agreed completely. But I didn't want them to think that everything we do must be fun...there are lots of things I have to do each day that are not fun. But we have to do them anyway. We all have responsibilities. But at 6 years old, why shouldn't learning be fun? In kindy, I just wanted them to like going to school, enjoy the learning process. Why should it be any different in first grade? Why should be any different in any grade for that matter.
So, I started contacting my resources. Stay tuned for part 2.