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#1 of 17 Old 08-05-2014, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Montessori vs homeschool vs charter

DS just turned 4 & is currently in a Montessori school we love. However, a few months ago we decided that we just don't have the funds to dedicate to it once he's eligible for public school. Plus I'm now pregnant with our second, due in January. So there will be daycare expenses to consider.

Since DH has his own business we were thinking we would homeschool. I work full time & carry the insurance, plus I love my job. But now there is some question about if DH will be able to do this & I'm preparing for registering for K at the charter.

Everytime I think about it honestly I'm heartbroken. The thought of DS being confined to a desk, rote learning, etc makes me so sad. TBH, I haven't checked out the charter we are currently hoping to register for, but I plan to.

Then I try to make myself feel better by wondering if DS would continue to thrive in the unstructured school anyway. Maybe he would do better with more structure.

But I'm not looking for "rigorous academics" (different charter), test scores, laptops, etc. I want freedom, arts, languages, lots of physical activity & outside time. But I'm a little different from the families around me. My son does not seem to be. He is a very typical boy. Maybe he would be happy in standard education.

I have no idea what I'm hoping to accomplish with this thread. Anyone have advice or even sympathy?

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#2 of 17 Old 08-06-2014, 08:47 AM
 
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Since DH has his own business we were thinking we would homeschool. I work full time & carry the insurance, plus I love my job. But now there is some question about if DH will be able to do this & I'm preparing for registering for K at the charter.

I have no idea what I'm hoping to accomplish with this thread. Anyone have advice or even sympathy?
Full disclosure: I'm a homeschooling mom crashing this forum to give some positive encouragement for the homeschooling option. Maybe cross-posting over there can give some better feedback about your specific situation.

When you say "some question about if dh will be able to do this", is it based on time? Or personality, or perceived ability? Homeschooling for kindergarten takes very little time, so little that you could possibly trial homeschooling for the kindergarten year to gauge how it will work. Kindergarteners are still largely the same hands-on learners that preschoolers are.

I would only make available time a consideration if your dh is attached to his desk for long periods of time, and not very flexible when he can do that. Homeschooling does not have to be "done" during school hours.

Your ds might thrive in a school setting. But that same child that would thrive in a school setting could also thrive at home. Yes, some kids would not thrive in a school setting, and these kids are good candidates for homeschool. But there are plenty of kids who would thrive at school AND would thrive at homeschooling. Some kids do better homeschooling until they are in the middle grades and then thrive in school. If you simply don't know, I wouldn't make this a large part of your consideration.

So there are two things you can set aside: time to homeschool a kindergartener, and whether he would thrive in school. The last encouraging point is perceived ability, if that is any consideration. Parents are qualified to teach their kids. Knowing your kid and being able to follow what works and ditch what isn't working makes up for an awful lot of training. I wouldn't worry about ability.

What I would consider first is personality--how dh handles stress, etc.-- and illness, and flexibility with his work.

There is no solution to the "what ifs" except to simply try it (school, homeschool). There is nothing that says you can't HS for a few years then go to school, or start school and then homeschool. Kids in general are not going to be "damaged" one way or the other unless parents and teachers are continually ignoring warning signs over extended periods of time.

That's it for the homeschool-positive side for now. I don't think my answer would have been different had you posted on the Learning At Home Forum.

Honestly, when people want to be talked into homeschooling, they post there, not in Learning At School. I think that is telling you something.

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#3 of 17 Old 08-06-2014, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks you SS. I've read many of your other posts and appreciate you "crashing" in here. I actually did consider posting in homeschooling LOL When all is said & done, my first choice is homeschool with a Montessori leaning. Which from everything I've read should be ... not "easy" ... but totally do-able.

But the reality comes down to - I'm not sure my DH can manage homeschool. You hit the nail on the head with "how dh handles stress, etc.-- and illness, and flexibility with his work". He doesn't handle stress very well, he's currently detoxing from ADD meds coupled with an SSRI. And it's not that his work isn't flexible. It's that he isn't very good at switching context. At least right now. He has a very common symptom of ADD (enhanced by the meds he was on) of getting hyper focused on what he's doing. I don't know what he'll be like in another couple months. But registration for charter happens in January. Though I guess we could register & later choose to not go there. And, to put it nicely, our son is CHALLENGING.

As for perceived ability - I've been looking into homeschool for 2 years now I feel confident that I can find what I need online, in life, & in prepared programs. DH & I work well together - I would provide him with the "curriculum" or lack thereof & a loose framework schedule for the day or week. I could pitch in nights and weekends.

TBH the "thriving" part was just me trying to make myself feel better with our new reality

I really appreciate your input & would welcome any further comments from you or others.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#4 of 17 Old 08-07-2014, 08:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by neonalee View Post
The thought of DS being confined to a desk, rote learning, etc makes me so sad.
I really think you should check out the schools you are considering. I work at a traditional public elementary school, and we don't even have desks in K or 1st. They have tables, and they have a big rug on the floor for group activities, read alouds, etc. In my state, K teachers are required to be certified in early childhood education as well as elementary school, and the learning is HANDS ON. It is academic, but not by confining the kids to desks.

I think you should visit with an open mind.
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#5 of 17 Old 08-08-2014, 04:14 PM
 
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I really think you should check out the schools you are considering. I work at a traditional public elementary school, and we don't even have desks in K or 1st. They have tables, and they have a big rug on the floor for group activities, read alouds, etc. In my state, K teachers are required to be certified in early childhood education as well as elementary school, and the learning is HANDS ON. It is academic, but not by confining the kids to desks.

I think you should visit with an open mind.


Yes. What Linda said.
The elementary schools here from what I've seen have pods as opposed to rows of desks. There is a lot of collaboration with the kids, projects and VERY hands-on. Learning is very experiential. Check out your neighborhood schools. No one choice is 100% perfect but there is always the right one for your child.
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#6 of 17 Old 08-08-2014, 06:00 PM
 
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I am a huge fan of public school so you can get a bit of cheerleading on that front from me (and others here too). One thing that I know from reading this forum is that public school's, charter options, and etc. varies quite a bit from region to region. If you have a couple of charters to choose from, it sounds like your city/town may be addressing the issue that educational needs vary from kid to kid. Like LotM, I encourage you to go see these schools. Take your DS.

My DC attended a public charter that was just wonderful. The most important thing in my mind when it comes to early education (K-8) is school size. We managed to find a space for her in several small schools and chose the one from there that best fit her learning style. There was daily PE, plenty of outdoor time (even in a city school), arts, cultural curriculum, diversity, community - the whole package.

I will say that I tend to see the value of public school in a pretty broad sense and I think because of that there may even be some otherwise "negatives" that I have come to think of as a positive.

My DC chose a fairly traditional school for middle school and, again, it was the right fit for her at the right time. One of her teachers just blew my mind with his dedication and skill. And, again, some of the negatives (reward systems) I have come to think of as a good thing for my DC to come to understand.

There are terrible public schools but I don't think that public school in general is terrible. To the contrary, I consider it an extension of a communal value for educating and cherishing children as members of the community.

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#7 of 17 Old 08-09-2014, 12:47 PM
 
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Can you go visit some of these public school options? I think you might find that they offer quite a bit more than desk sitting all day. My YDD just started K at a (very academic) public charter. They have recess 4 times a day, PE daily, art/music on alternate days, and a short daily nap. Reading is conducted in small groups of 4-6 kids around rugs or in different areas of the building. They are read to, and then practice phonics/reading depending on ability. Deskwork is reserved mostly for handwriting practice (about 1 sheet per day/15 min per day). I was really surprised when I walked in on my ODD's 1st grade math class and saw them in small groups playing with large, fuzzy dice, blocks, and other manipulatives.

I guess, my feeling about public schools is that they offer a better social experience, and a larger pool from which to make friends.


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#8 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for the positive opinions. In hindsight, I think SS was correct - I posted here & not in homeschooling for a reason. And honestly, the reason was I felt like homeschool wasn't an option at this time & wanted to feel better about traditional school. My views were a bit biased. I had no idea some schools might have lots of recess periods, etc. I had planned to check out the charter close to my work next month anyway. But I think I might also look around at the others in my area.

Most of them specialize in certain areas. The "rigorous academic standards" one I mentioned specializes in science. I wonder (and maybe this should be a different thread) how do you pick a specialized charter when your DC is still young enough to not show a preference for anything (other than running around like a crazy boy)? I don't know about other areas, but our school system here is on the very low end of the scale nationwide, so the charters are all on lottery & hard to get into if you didn't start in K.

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#9 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 01:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by neonalee View Post
I wonder (and maybe this should be a different thread) how do you pick a specialized charter when your DC is still young enough to not show a preference for anything (other than running around like a crazy boy)? I don't know about other areas, but our school system here is on the very low end of the scale nationwide, so the charters are all on lottery & hard to get into if you didn't start in K.
Our district is interesting. We had/have neighborhood schools that vary quite a bit. Mostly, I hear, depending on strong leadership and steady principal employment. Some schools, even in very struggling areas, are great. Many others, even in neighborhoods with strong community, struggle a great deal. We also have a lot of charters, innovative, and magnet type schools because our previous CFO was from NYC, where there was some perceived success with that solution.

We don't actually have many elementary charters or magnets with a super strong focus. Yes, they all have a subtle focus but in elementary most of the schools are learning similar basics. "Science based" elementary may mean that they provide science at all (I don't think that is a requirement in elementary here) or that math, art, or language are structured around a science focus. (Middle school and highschool with a focus is a totally different story and some here have a super strong focus)

Because our charters are all lottery (I think that may be a national feature of charter schools), many families here just apply to every and all school that is even a distant fit for their child. Some opt for a neighborhood school as a back-up, others private, homeschool, or even moving. Not all districts welcome that. DC went to a charter in CA and they required you to register centrally and I think you had to list your preferred charter in order of preference and from there your child got placed.

One thing to seriously consider and be aware of are next year's visiting days. If there is a school you like, consider attending a recital or science day or open house. Look into new charters to see if you can join their board. I think being involved the year before can really go a long way to ease the transition. Don't forget that many charters (especially the ones with wait-lists) will have a deadline for application.

If you can find a few local parents with kids in elementary school in your district they will likely know the ins and outs.

One other option, which is little-known in my city is that families can get wait-listed for out-of-zone for neighborhood schools that seem like an especially good fit for a particular child. If you hear of a school that has a strong administration and great teachers that feels like a good fit, call them and ask about out-of-zone registration. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Good luck!

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#10 of 17 Old 08-12-2014, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our district is interesting. We had/have neighborhood schools that vary quite a bit. Mostly, I hear, depending on strong leadership and steady principal employment. Some schools, even in very struggling areas, are great. Many others, even in neighborhoods with strong community, struggle a great deal. We also have a lot of charters, innovative, and magnet type schools because our previous CFO was from NYC, where there was some perceived success with that solution.

We don't actually have many elementary charters or magnets with a super strong focus. Yes, they all have a subtle focus but in elementary most of the schools are learning similar basics. "Science based" elementary may mean that they provide science at all (I don't think that is a requirement in elementary here) or that math, art, or language are structured around a science focus. (Middle school and highschool with a focus is a totally different story and some here have a super strong focus)

Because our charters are all lottery (I think that may be a national feature of charter schools), many families here just apply to every and all school that is even a distant fit for their child. Some opt for a neighborhood school as a back-up, others private, homeschool, or even moving. Not all districts welcome that. DC went to a charter in CA and they required you to register centrally and I think you had to list your preferred charter in order of preference and from there your child got placed.

One thing to seriously consider and be aware of are next year's visiting days. If there is a school you like, consider attending a recital or science day or open house. Look into new charters to see if you can join their board. I think being involved the year before can really go a long way to ease the transition. Don't forget that many charters (especially the ones with wait-lists) will have a deadline for application.

If you can find a few local parents with kids in elementary school in your district they will likely know the ins and outs.

One other option, which is little-known in my city is that families can get wait-listed for out-of-zone for neighborhood schools that seem like an especially good fit for a particular child. If you hear of a school that has a strong administration and great teachers that feels like a good fit, call them and ask about out-of-zone registration. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Good luck!
Funny you should mention the board - DH and I were just discussing that. I put together a list of charter schools that looked interesting & would work for us geographically (no bussing for charters here) & he's very actively looking at them right now. We're going to put together a list of things that are important to us to ask about when we go visit these places.

We actually do know someone at the science one, which was why I looked at it at all. It's very focused on science & technology - tying in the classes & experiments, etc. We are actually leaning away from that one for location reasons as it would be in the opposite direction from my work & any onsite he needs to do for his company (and DH & I are very tech/science ourselves, we can supplement that if needed). I'll take a look at the other elementary schools in the area too & see about that out of zone. Thanks!

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#11 of 17 Old 08-13-2014, 12:59 AM
 
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There is one other thing to consider:
You mention that your son is CHALLENGING, in all caps, that he wants to "run around like crazy", and that your DH has an ADD diagnosis and is/was on meds. Do you envision a similar diagnosis for your DS in the future? I'd keep that in mind - some kids with ADHD tendencies may actually do better in a very structured setting with few distractions and movement, provided the work is stimulation and challenging. Other, no so much. You may want to try to find out how well the charter school might work for kid in that respect, and how well the charter school might work with you. AFAIK (I'm not in the US) charter schools are not required to provide services for kids with special needs.

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#12 of 17 Old 08-13-2014, 05:35 AM
 
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AFAIK (I'm not in the US) charter schools are not required to provide services for kids with special needs.
While there is some controversy over whether some charter schools have some de facto ways of getting around providing services (KIPP is recently under fire for expelling kids with behavioral challenges), charter schools are not legally allowed to discriminate.

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#13 of 17 Old 08-13-2014, 06:46 AM
 
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Charter schools are required to provide services to kids with mild to moderate special needs (kids who can be mainstreamed). They are off the hook only for kids who are severely and profoundly effected, which the OPer's child clearly is not.

In my city, some of the charters do a great job with certain types of kids, such as ADHD or Aspergers, while other charters run families off if their children are challenging or if they will lower the test scores.

It varies a great deal from charter to charter, and getting them to follow the law can be more trouble than it is worth, but they are supposed to follow IDEA, ADA, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
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#14 of 17 Old 08-14-2014, 01:04 AM
 
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As usual, Linda can sort it for us!

So legally and in theory he should be fine wherever he goes. whether the school will work for him and with him and you in practice - you may need to visit, talk to a lot of people, and try to find out from other parents what's going down.

After all this was just a thought based on a few oblique comments, so we have no idea what you think he might challenge his teachers with...

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#15 of 17 Old 08-15-2014, 10:00 AM
 
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Most of them specialize in certain areas. The "rigorous academic standards" one I mentioned specializes in science. I wonder (and maybe this should be a different thread) how do you pick a specialized charter when your DC is still young enough to not show a preference for anything (other than running around like a crazy boy)? I don't know about other areas, but our school system here is on the very low end of the scale nationwide, so the charters are all on lottery & hard to get into if you didn't start in K.

I have a boy who is able to tolerate worksheet after worksheet after worksheet. He would have done excellent in a highly academic, rigorous school. However, he was also creative, curious and inquisitive. I had a choice between 2 charters and our neighborhood school. The rigorous, "we work several grade levels above" type and the more artsy, wholistic, "there are many different types of intelligence" type. I went to visit the schools and it turned out that the determining factor for me was just the general feel of the school. Eventually I chose the school that I felt was buzzing with life. The teachers looked happy, not harassed. The kids looked confident and excited. I wish I had a more scientific way of making this important decision but in the end, I went with gut. The general feeling I got when I visited the schools and how I would want my kid to look while he was learning. It hasn't been perfect but I feel I made the right choice.
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#16 of 17 Old 08-15-2014, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess challenging should be defined. I had a whole other post about that and it was asked if he was that challenging at school - and he's not. I am worried about possible ADD/ADHD diagnoses in the future, but he's too young to determine that at this point, I think. His Montessori school has not seen anything worth being concerned with anyway. But I do want to know that wherever he goes I'll be able to work WITH the school and have flexibility in how it's dealt with. Not just - your son won't sit still (which was what a friend of mine got last year in meeting after meeting). Tigerie - I'm not actually knowledgable about the diagnoses & the different symptoms. I'll have to start looking that up. Thanks for mentioning the different types.

I have a feeling that it might come down to "feeling" LOL as grumpybear says. That's kinda how DH & I are. But this discussion is helping me put together a concrete list of questions I'll need to ask. I wish I knew more people IRL like the ones here. Most people here are opting for whatever school they are zoned for or go with the super pricey, super expensive private schools.

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#17 of 17 Old 08-16-2014, 06:48 AM
 
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I have a feeling that it might come down to "feeling" LOL as grumpybear says.
That was the end decision for us as well. I would do a lot of ground work and compare all information available and then we would visit. Gut feeling goes a long way and has served us well.
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