I thought we could take a break from vacation posts (here and here). I’ve put off writing this post, because often times if feels that sharing your own experience or thoughts is a judgement against those who feel differently and do differently. That is not what this is. This isn’t judgement. This isn’t my way is better. If you go out to eat and get burgers, everyone else who went out to eat and didn’t get burgers didn’t make a wrong choice–they made the choice that was right for them! We all make choices that fit us without judgement. When it is what college we wish to attend, which career we want to pursue, where we want to live or what we want to make for dinner people seem to understand that. For some reason when it comes to parenting, defenses run high. What I choose for me and my family is me doing the best I can to make sense of this whole parenting gig.
That being said, the kids switched schools. Well, Quinn switched schools and Eleanor started. If you read this post or this post you know that my thoughts and feelings were all jumbled up when it came to Quinn starting Kindergarten. I knew I wasn’t okay with him going to our neighborhood school, which failed to meet state standards and had tacked on extra minutes. I flirted with the idea of homeschooling. We applied to all of the magnet schools, hoping to get into one of them through the lottery system. Quinn got into 2 of the 3 and we went with the artistic school, because it seemed like the least traditional choice.
None of this ever sat well with me. At first I thought it was just that I missed Quinn, but I soon realized that it was so much more than that. Everything had changed. Quinn had changed. The family dynamic and changed. Some change is good! Even hard change can be good. Going away to college was hard change, but it was good. This didn’t feel right.
I felt like my only option was to home school and that felt to extreme. Giving up Quinn’s spot felt like a big risk for something I had no experience with! For months, I felt like I was holding my breath.
Quinn was excited to start school, but then he went and didn’t really care to ever go again. He cried often in the middle of the day, because he missed his family. He asked be home schooled and called home with headaches. Quinn was successful at school by all accounts. He was testing at the top of the charts, had no behavioral problems and was pleasure to have in class, but he wasn’t happy.
At home he was snappy, unengaged and his spark was gone. There was nothing wrong, per say, with his school–It just wasn’t right for Quinn. There is so much I could discuss about this subject. As an educator, I have pretty strong feelings about what school should be. I didn’t know how to make things better. I basically had come to the conclusion that I would have to suck it up. It was good enough. He would be okay.
I had countless discussion with my husband and while he agreed, that school had changed things and he wasn’t happy with how things were going–he didn’t know the answer either. There is this thing people say when you are stressing out and it drives me crazy. “Things have a way of working out”. As crazy as that statement makes me, it seems that when you are actively searching for a way–it presents itself.
For us that started over Thanksgiving. I was talking to my cousin about school and she mentioned how much she loves her daughter’s school. Now we don’t live in the same community. She lives where Montessori schools are a public school choice. Her daughter is at one of those schools and as she said, “I have drunk the kool-aid”. My conversation with her intrigued me.
After having my little boy home with me over Thanksgiving break, I knew that I had to do something. I jumped on the computer one day and started searching. Our local Montessori school was private. We have three kids on one not-so-big income. Affording private school has always been out of the question. I wasn’t searching for private, I was searching for a certain experience–it just so happens that in my community the only option is private.
I started researching Montessori and the more I read, the more I wanted this for my children. I couldn’t find tuition listed so I called. During my conversation with the head of the school I started crying. She was so sweet and invited us to come observe. My husband and I observed for nearly four hours and we were blown away. This was everything I had been ranting school should be for years. A scholarship allowed us the opportunity to give this to our children.
After Christmas break Quinn started Kindergarten at his new school and Eleanor had her very first day of school (preschool). Classes are multi-aged. Preschool, 4k and kindergarten are together.
Eleanor goes for 3 hours in the morning and comes home for lunch. Quinn is considered extended day and after the younger kids have gone, he has an additional 3 hour work time.
(snapped by his teacher)
(snapped by his teacher)
Sometimes you leave good enough. These decisions feel so big and sometimes I look around and think, when did I become qualified to be making these kinds of decisions? I feel so at peace with our decision. And it was OUR decision. Quinn and Eleanor were a 100% involved in the process. My children love school! They look forward to it. Today Quinn couldn’t wait to work on his number roll. My little boy has his spark back and this mom can finally breathe a big sigh of relief.
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