Nov 3, 2010

Caitlin and school

You may have noticed that the blog is lacking much school info on the kiddos these days.  We have had so many changes around here that I have not been able to keep on everything.

Last month we enrolled Caitlin in public school.  I know shocking huh?  It really is.  However it was a needed short term change.  We were beginning to wonder if Caitlin had some severe learning disabilities like dyslexia.  We really wanted to have a second opinion to make sure we were seeing what we thought.  So in she goes.  I met with her teacher after the first week and sure enough the teacher thinks that there is a learning disability going on.  We will be having her tested at an independent learning center near our home. 

However it seems in the last 2 weeks or so Caitlin has jumped forward and is working her way out of the same issues she was struggling with last month.  I have no idea what to think.  Tomorrow is parent teacher conferences and I plan on talking with her teacher.  I know what I am seeing at home, I want to make sure these same things are making an appearance at school also.

Now I have to say this is a very short term thing.  She will not be staying in school.  Now I am not against public schools at all.  I think they need to exist for a multitude of reasons however for our family they just aren't the thing.  Now that we have had a child in the school system I can tell you that homeschooling holds an even more important part of my thoughts on education.  I have many many reasons why I love homeschooling and what I think education should be but I am horrible with words so I wont attempt to communicate those things.  But I will share with you what I have not liked about public schooling and why it has made me like homeschooling even more.

1.  Caitlin is not allowed to read what she wants.  Yup, not allowed.  This is because she has to read 92 words a minute before she can go onto the next level.  She is a slow and deliberate reader.  She reads 50 wpm.  Therefore she is only allowed to read beginning 1st grade books.  Books like Dick and Jane.  However at home she easily reads books on a 3/4 grade level.  Slowly yes, but she reads and enjoys them.

2.  Part of her school work is on the computer, up to a couple of hours a day.  Not a big one right, I mean everyone spends hours online.  Yeah true, however first thing, I don't believe computer, video game or TV time are beneficial to kiddos at this age.  Secondly, multiple studies have been done that have found that kids with brain damage, autism (all along the spectrum), ADHD, and other issues react negatively to the stimulation on a computer/TV screen.  In fact there have been documented cases where the images, colors, and brightness have caused these special kids to have seizures.  For what ever reason these kids brains short circuit when they are exposed to computer/TV.  I know this is very true with Caitlin and her behavior.

3. Recess is lost when work is not done fast enough.  There is no reason why a child should have to finish an entire math sheet in 10 minutes.  The focus should be on mastery not speed.  Taking away exercise from a child is one of the worst ways to encourage academic success (yes its proven!).

4. This year for Caitlin is focused on practicing and preparing for the big test they have to take next year.  This is the reason they have to read the 92 words per minute.  It will ensure they are able to pass the test next year.  Now I am anti-testing on principle alone but I am thinking they are missing the big picture.  Isn't the point of going to school to learn information for later retrieval throughout life?  Isn't it to build a foundation of information in which to higher your knowledge and reasoning abilities?  Then why in the world do these kids have to practice going fast for an entire year?  Going fast may work for some, but for most this is not the way to ensure mastery.  I know this to be very true for Cailtin.  She is methodical about everything.  Timing her does not improver her comprehension nor her mastery.  She does not retain the fast information, so basically we are wasting a year just so she can fly through random information next year.

Okay so now all those anti homeschooling out there can say "Hey life stinks and you can't coddle her. She has to learn to test, speed matters in the work place and computers are essential to our lives.  She needs to learn these things."  True, these skill are essential in society and I am in no way saying that she shouldn't learn these.  However I am saying that to become an intelligent, thoughtful, educated person she must have a strong foundation and a sense of personal achievement under her.  You can not fly through med school for a reason, you must know the little things to get to the big picture and you must gain the confidence in your abilities before you go around diagnosing patients.

So a very long winded post later, Caitlin will hang out in school until Christmas break.  After that she will be coming back home where the plan is to read whatever we want, learn as much math as we can master and tackle all those little things (like science, history, art and music) that the school just doesn't have time for because they aren't on the test.

Rant over, off the soap box.


Dallas and Shelby Scoffield said...

Kim- I noticed many of the same good things with Wyatt that you are noticing with Caitlin..I really think that it has to do with their desire to be like their peers. Whether they recognize it or not- they want to be like those around them- so they mimic their behaviors and work hard to catch up with them. You know that I struggle with a lot of things about public school as well- but this has been a huge advantage for us as Wyatt has caught up to his grade level and is even in the middle of the pack- no Title 1 or Special Ed....maybe this is motivating to Caitlin too?

Kim said...

I think you are right. I think they do want to be like those around them. That is the main reason we are letting her stay in until Christmas. After that we will work even harder at making sure they are involved in extra curric. activities so they can have that peer interaction.

I think Caitlin also needed to see and feel like she is "normal". While we never make her feel otherwise I think she understands that she is different than others in some ways. Have you noticed this with Wyatt?

Dallas and Shelby Scoffield said...

Not yet- but I know that others notice it in him- kids too. And I have a sick feeling in my stomach for the day that he notices it as well. Right now- he thinks he's a 'rockstar'. I'm glad that she's enjoying it though- and that you'll now know both avenues and can make the best choice for Caitlin. She's such a sweetheart!

Kim said...

Wyatt is a rockstar so he should never think otherwise! Seriously that kid is incredible and I think that he is going to touch so many peoples lives for the better. I think other kids can see that too. I don't think that you will have to worry too much about him, he was sent here to be a positive light for others.