Thursday, March 18, 2010

Schooling

So of all of the things I worried about when I had a baby(money, nursing, poo) it never even crossed my mind that school would be an issue. Lately I have been overwhelmingly obsessing about what schooling situation would be best for our family. Kaden just turned four and has only two years left at his wonderful montessori school. If we had a primary montessori school in town then this would not even be an issue but since the closest one is one hour away (and believe me I have heavily weighed the benefits of actually going that far for good schooling)in the end it is just not practical or feasible to go that route. So back to square one. I really would love some input on this topic from anyone willing to give an opinion.

So yes, I have thought about putting them in the public school, but here are my problems with this. 1. (And by far the biggest problem) Our drop out rate is over 35% (yes apparently this is possible) 2. I want my children to not only learn the facts that they need to know but I want them taught in a way that gives them the positive experience of learning something new, and not just learn how to regurgitate information. I want a philosophy that teaches them the joy of learning new things, and something that will give them the independence to research the things that interest them. 3. I want the arts to be an integrated and important part of their learning, be it music, art, language, movement, etc. I want them to learn the importance of these traits. 4. I want them to feel safe and not judged in their learning environment. 5. I want them to have an adequate amount of challenge yet not be overwhelmed with the 'tasks' they are made to do.
I am sure this list could go on but let me get to our options:
1. The obvious first option is public school. I loved my public school and did not feel I got the short end of the stick when it came to learning. We had many extracurricular activities, many electives to choose from, and I had great friends. I do feel, however, that public school has changed even since I have been out of school, with budget cuts, hardcore bullying, and just living in a smaller southern town in general, I don't feel my boys will receive the type of education that would be best for our family and our values. This said, public school would allow us to have more outside experiences such as traveling because we would save a lot of money not having to worry about paying tuition.

2. I have heard a lot of really great things about Happy Hills Farm, a private school on acres and acres of land. This school is also a boarding school which is interesting. I have not visited the inside of this school yet but have heard that once I do visit I will not want my children anywhere else. They receive a substantial amount of funding from the Dallas Cowboys and so they have a lot of extras that a public school does not. The older children raise livestock on the land, they also have horses which the children learn to ride. The curriculum is basically the same format as the public school but there is only an average of 10-15 children per class as opposed to 30. The down side to this is that it is very expensive and I would definitely have to work full time to afford, which I do not really want to do because I want to have a more active role in their schooling and lives in general.

3. The third option we have is a home school coop called the SHAPE academy. This is so far what I am leaning towards. It really has the best of both worlds in that the children attend school for 3 days a week and are home schooled for 2 days a week. The curriculum includes electives such as gymnastics, art, pottery, photography, Latin, Spanish, piano, guitar and others, and we could have more time to teach them the subjects that we feel are important for them to learn. Because the price of this program is substantially lower than the private school I listed, we would possibly have more money to experience other things such as traveling and more time for field learning.

I would love to hear everyone's opinions (and may even sleep better at night). This is a tough decision that will affect the rest of their lives so any input would be much appreciated. I will let everyone know what we decide in further postings. Thanks for reading this long, drawn out post :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our growing 4 year old.

In this post I would like to take some time to reflect on the life of our newly 4-year-old boy. I remember four years ago when I had received a bundle that I had been waiting my whole life for. I had always wanted to be a mother. I may have been (and still am) undecided about every other role in my life, but never have I had doubts about motherhood. The day Kaden was born was the first time in my life that I knew for certainty that this is where I was supposed to be, with this little miracle that had already brought so much joy into my life.

Kaden has always amazed us with his abilities and continuous learning abilities. His teachers call him the dinosaur encyclopedia. If there is something you would like to know, or a dinosaur that needs to be identified, chances are that if you ask Kaden he will tell you. T-rex has sharp teeth because he is a carnivore... brachiosaurus has a long neck so that he can eat the leaves on the trees...triceratops has a crest upon his head. Kaden has a facination for facts. Facts about bugs, facts about the world, facts about animals in general. He never stops wanting to learn. The other day he picked up the globe from its stand and he asked me to sit with him so that we could talk about Africa, then South America, these are the things I LOVE and live for!

Kaden also has the memory of rainman(ok so I may be a bit bias since I am the Mama). The first time I really noticed this was last year when Kaden started talking about the circus train he wanted to play with at Nana's. He had not been to Nana's house since the year before when he had not yet hit 2 1/2. I had to call Nana to see what he was talking about. This past weekend we visited a safari park. When Kaden was eighteen months old we purchased a wooden snake for him from the gift shop. This past weekend when we were driving up to the park he says "Mama, I want another snake like last time." I know, freaky! Nana has said that my cousin Jack had this same gifted quality. It really makes us wonder how such a little brain can hold so much information.

Kaden also has a very sweet side. He is constantly telling all of us that he loves us, this melts my heart every time! He loves his little brother very much, he is constantly trying to help him and encouraging him with "Good Job Lakelan". Of course, this is intertwined between fighting over EVERYTHING but you gotta take the good with the bad:)

We are so proud of who Kaden has become so far and are very excited to see who he is to become! Happy birthday our sweet, loving boy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kaden's school birthday party!

Kaden also had a little celebration at school for his 4th birthday...it was also crazy hair day...




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Kaden's 4th birthday celebration!

This year for Kaden's fourth birthday we decided to outsource...and wow are we happy we did. The kids had a wonderful time, and I did not have to clean up or entertain; I totally recommend this route! This year he had his birthday at jumping party and oh how they jumped...and jumped...and jumped! Just in time for nap:)