Thursday, January 9, 2014

Home School vs. Private School and why we chose both

As we are coming to the end of our Costa Rican Summer Break, my wonderful husband had an excellent idea. He contacted the school to confirm we were enrolling Max, our 4+ year old and Sara, our 2+ year old into the new school year, beginning February 1st and he also arranged to pick up their new school clothing and a syllabus to begin some type of learning schedule at home. He thought it would be smart to go ahead and get the children, and us, in a schedule mimicking the teacher's schedule at school. While we always do projects around the house: flashcards, ABC's, numbers and plenty of outdoor activities, I have to admit, we have become lazy with the kids since we were busy with the holidays and now starting our new business. They are definitely enjoying too much TV time, to the extent of arguing over The Little Mermaid or Zig & Sharko. We did take the opportunity to teach them what the word compromise meant, and while they may not have been happy about sharing the television schedule, they are dealing with it. We were worried that Sara might have a harder time with school since this is her first time at it, so getting them in the proper schedule could make the transition easier. Since I am giving birth to our 3rd child in about 2 weeks, I do not have as much energy as my husband, so he has vowed to be the teacher:) 

This is how our first day went at our version of home school. We failed at getting breakfast ready & brushing teeth with clothes on by 7:30 - which is when the bus will pick them up in 3 weeks. Since my husband did the cooking, they had bacon & fruit for breakfast. I appreciate the fruit, but what is that old saying - 2 wrongs don't make a right?? So mommy came to save the day, adding toast and scrambled eggs to the menu. We explained to the kids that it was time to get ready for home school and they both ran to their rooms to grab their backpacks (brand new) with their bacon covered fingers. So after cleaning them, and their bags, and the kitchen. We were way past the scheduled time that the school begins ABC's and Counting with Numbers in Spanish. I opted for some light work on the computer while Matt devotedly went through the alphabet with the kids, the whole time, shouting, "Sara don't eat your toes!" l,m,n,o,p, "Sara stop eating your toes!" uno, dos, tres, cuatro, "Sara, get your toes out of your mouth!" ocho, nueve, diez! I laughed and they continued, but I could tell he was losing control, fast. I decided to pop in to encourage them with the promise of a sticker after their lesson and Sara straightened up quickly. Max, being older and more experienced, ran through his numbers in English and Spanish as fast as he could, saying, "I won!" Then all hell broke loose as Sara began to scream and cry that Max did not win, she won. My husband looked like he was going to melt and we decided to move on to stickers and flashcards quickly to change the subject, followed up with individual playtime with Play Doh and Drawing. I encouraged Matt that he was doing a wonderful job for the first day and it will get better. 

After a brief discussion, we resolved that we are not only doing this for the childrens' benefit, we are helping their teachers too. He has a new respect for teachers and we know that we made the right decision to send our children to school, leaving the teaching up to the teachers. We are not knocking home school, and we do plenty of teaching at home, but after this first day of our makeshift home school, we know that not all parents can do what we did because of work or other obligations, or just plain do not do it, for whatever reason. We will not be discouraged and we made our own compromise. Matt promised to never make a big pile of bacon for breakfast without all the other healthy sides and I promised to be a co-teacher with him. Hopefully, together we can teach Sara to stop chewing on her toes before real School and we probably need to teach Max not to yell out, "I won!" So, regardless of how bad we felt like we failed today, we absolutely know we are doing the right thing by sending our children to school. Being a parent is as challenging as it is rewarding and it is nice to be able to share the responsibility with professionals who are trained to do this every day. All we can do as good parents is help ensure our kids are ready, willing and able to learn when they get to school, teeth brushed, of course. They are very excited to go to school and we are very excited to send them to school, so we are all winners in the end. Pura Vida!

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