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Thursday, August 28, 2008

School Books, Homeschooling, and High School Trepidation

This week I got down to the business of homeschooling my children and making a lot of difficult decisions.  Decisions on school books, structure, high school curriculum, panic, and naps (I have to fit in naps if I am going to maintain my sanity). 

This year is different, though, because my baby girl, Sarah, is 14 and going into 9th grade, and that realization alone is when I started to feel the sweat on my brow and heart palpitations kick in.  But before I buckled down to make one of the biggest and most difficult decisions of my daughter's academic life, I felt a need to get the easier decisions out of the way.

Books367.jpg by you.

And so, I got down to business.  Or rather, I got down on the floor with the school books.  Too many school books I'll have you know.  WAY too many school books.  I have a small library goin' on here. 

There is a pile for Math and a pile for Language Arts and a pile for Science and a pile for whatever.  My problem is that every time I go to Growing Scholars  I buy out the store with what I think to be better books for teaching my children.   Before I know it, my children are working out of 7 different books for every subject and their brains are bursting, and their hands are hurting, and their eyes are popping for having to work out of so many books.   What's a mother to do?  Cry?  I have opted to throw all the books up in the air and the one that lands on top wins.  Whadaya think?  Sound like a good idea?  This is relaxed homeschooling at its best.

We went through all these books.  Some of them were passed down from Matthew to Glen and some from Sarah to Matthew, and others were completely finished and others were never used and never will be.  Which led me to another reason to squirm - all the money spent on school books that will never be used is nothing short of a small fortune.

Soon after sorting through this tragic pile of academic cataclysm, I felt that we were well on our way to a good program in all the core subjects for our 6th grader and our 3rd grader.

SarahinBMW by you.

After resolving this source of mental conflict, I had to face the music - what about Sarah?  Should I continue to homeschool her through high school or enroll her in the public school?  Why on earth did I wait till the last frickin' minute to make this decision?!!!  There has to be an answer!!!!  Somebody please help me!!!  My head is hurting here!  I hate this about myself.  I'm so stinkin' difficult - and the worst procrastinator on the East Coast.

So for the last 2 nights I have been up until 4 in the morning searching for answers, clues, solutions, curriculum, and please don't let it cost us 8000 dollars.  I found very expensive solutions, and a few answers, but no "solution."

I discovered what North Carolina requires for graduation from high school and what records they need me to keep in order for Sarah to graduate and go on to college.  I had an overwhelming dread flush over me that maybe I wasn't keeping the best of records all these years.   I felt a sense of personal failure that maybe I had let Sarah down and had not prepared her for her high school years.  Then I found her PASS test and realized that she was in the 98th percentile across the board in all her subjects and studied Biology and Logic and Algebra last year as an 8th grader.  Suddenly I was feeling a little better.  She really has been a great daughter and student - but have I been a good teacher?

And so, this began my struggle for the right answers for her.  Big Bear and I took her to the local high school and met with a guidance counselor to discuss enrolling her in the public high school.  Our school, fortunately, is one of the best in the state of North Carolina.  It is a very good school.  I was worried, though.  As we began to talk to the counselor and learn about their programs, clubs, courses of study, and more, I saw Sarah's face light up and I knew then that this just might be the right choice for her during her high school years.  Maybe she needed to experience high school like I did and like her father did.  And, maybe, just maybe, it would prepare her for college better than I could. 

SarahwithiPod.jpg by you.

Today we made a decision  - albeit temporary - to start Sarah on this journey into high school at the public school and with a light load.  I was very happy to discover that the school can tailor her course load to suit her academic needs.  And, being that this is the first year that she has ever been thrown into the deep end of scholarly pools, the fact that they were willing to lighten her load for the first semester to help her get acclimated to her surroundings, teachers, and new study requirements - was nothing short of an act of benevolence.

2573922352_a9bc7781df_d.jpg by you.

Sarah will be taking Algebra 1, World History, PE, and Art.  You can't get much lighter than that, folks.  That is for the first semester.  She will be starting on Tuesday.  However, the teachers have emailed me the course work that she has missed this first week of school and suddenly Sarah is feeling daunted and inept and the personal floodgate of her bungling mind has been opened.

Tears are flowing.  Eyes are red and puffy.  "I feel stupid" is every other sentence she speaks.  Suddenly I feel the same thing - that maybe I have failed her somehow overtakes every cell in my body. 

We will get through this and we will get through this together.  First we have to re-learn inequalities and quadratic and linear equations, intercepts and parametric forms.  But not before I have a good cry. 

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