Hi all. I am a new member to this forum and this is my first post, ever. : ) So apologies for any repetition.
My oldest child started out at a Reggio preschool and then transitioned to a JrK program at a "country day" school that is considered one of the top schools in our area. My daughter has a May birthday so JrK wasn't mandatory...we did it primarily to give her some additional time to mature socially and emotionally before the real academics kicked in. Now at the end of the school year, we are feeling less than satisfied with the quality of education our daughter has received. Part of this has to do with how much she wants to learn and go beyond coloring, gluing, and what-not...part of this has to do with the lack of differentiated instruction and the intensely teacher-led environment. Suffice it to say, the natives are getting restless.
I recently discovered a start-up Reggio school about twenty minutes from our home. They are building out a grade per year and currently planning to go to 6th but will consider 8th depending on interest level. Our daughter shadowed there twice and after much discussion, they offered us a first grade slot rather than Kinder because the teachers felt she'd be better challenged and fit in more comfortably with her own age-peers.
So....long story short...we are planning to move our daughter after this school year over to the new school and feel very good about the decision. But as someone who has several teacher friends and a retired teacher parent, I can't help but wonder/worry about how well our daughter will transition back into a more mainstream school environment from a Reggio program. The new school is no-grade, minimal/optional homework, with all tracking done via portfolios created by the teachers throughout the year. My dad is convinced we'd need to start teaching our daughter how to do homework, nightly, before we move her over to a mainstream school...and do some "practice" tests to get her familiar with testing, etc.
I would very much love to hear from parents who have gone down an alternative path (Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio, unschooling) and successfully transitioned a child into a more mainstream/traditional environment (or, alternatively, who tried and didn't succeed). I realize there are so many things that can change between now and 6th grade...but I like to at least have a very loose game plan (or several) in terms of how things might play out for our daughter when/if the time comes. And before anyone asks...I am also trying to plot out a strategy by which my daughter never has to go to a mainstream school until she graduates and moves on to college...but that may not work out for us considering where we live (not a huge number of progressive education options in our area).
Thanks so much in advance!
Oh, I think it's a non-issue. We were at a small private school (theoretically on the constructivist model, but basically a lot of hands-on and no real grades). We transitioned to the local highly-regarded public schools this year at 5th grade for dd1 and 2nd grade for dd2. It's really been pretty smooth. We were initially planning to go for one more year in private school and then transition to middle school, but it didn't quite work out that way and I'm really glad. I think having that final year in elementary school has been really helpful for dd1. We're looking at a small charter for her next year for middle school, but even so I think she has learned some "regular school" skills that will help her as she makes the transition to middle school. I could see that a jump straight into middle school might have been a little trickier, but I imagine she would have done ok there, too.
In our state EOGs are required in private schools and for homeschoolers as well as public schools starting in 3rd grade. Don't know if your state has the same requirements, but I imagine there will be some kind of minimal testing going on. If not have her play around at www.freerice.org . There are plenty of opportunities in real life to practice standing in line (grocery store, bank, diving board) and taking quizzes. You don't need to worry about that.
I'd consider where you are hearing the criticism from; people can be very critical of things they don't agree with or don't understand. Teachers in the "traditional model" tend to be critical of schooling that isn't.
I don't see why you'd need to "practice homework," you do what is assigned . And testing will get her familiar with "testing." Generally, in middle and high school, teachers give quizzes leading up to tests and there are several of each so one particular quiz/test does not usually have a significant impact on the overall grade. Teachers vary in how they approach testing so you have to "learn" each teacher anyway. I think that time management skills will be what is important in fitting-in homework around other obligations and in completing a test within allowed time limits. I just took an accounting class and had to learn that it was better to do the more time consuming accounting problems (that were worth more points) first, and do the multiple choice (worth far fewer points) in the time that was left; I also learned that it was better to have a larger calculator with bigger buttons when I'm in a hurry .
We started out as unschoolers and morphed to relaxed homeschoolers because my kids were happier and easier to live with that way. It wasn't about my hang ups about what they should learn, just that they did much better with planned activities and schedule.
My kids entered a traditional public school when they were 10 and 12. It worked out very, very differently for them.
For one of my DDs, (who was 10 when she switched) it was a bit rough at first. She didn't write as quickly as the other kids, so she brought more work home and it took her longer to do it. Some of the work was different than she was used to (she'd never seen a grammar worksheet before) and she had a learning curve of learning how to Do School. None the less, within a couple of months she was the top of her class in all subjects (except hand writing) and her teacher recommended she be tested for the gifted program. The second year she was in school she was not only a straight A student and in the gifted program, she also went to district in chess and was one of the few 6th graders district wide chosen to be in the highschool musical.
My other DD has some special needs, and the mellow approach we had taken to education had masked the severity of those needs. For her, the transition was very, very tough. She needed to have an evaluation and we found out that the wait where we lived was nearly a year long. Ultimately, we switched her to a private alternative school with small classes and no grades. BUT -- we don't have any reason to believe that putting her in traditional school earlier would have caused a different ultimately outcome. It would have played out a little differently, but in the end, she is who she is and having figured out that she isn't a match for traditional school earlier wouldn't have changed that.
When she started school at age 12, her reading tested at college level and her math tested slightly behind for grade level. When she eventually had a full eval, it became obvious that her challenges in math have more to do with how her brain in wired than how she was educated. However, she has gained a great deal in math both in her public school experience and now at her private school. Both are working better for her than homeschooling did.
So our experience is that it really just depends on the kid. My kids have very supportive, educated parents, plenty of help at home, the option of paid tutors. They attended an excellent public school with a caring staff. They both now attend the same cool alternative school. (They are both in high school now).
But they are very different kids.