Sunday, August 15, 2010

Readin' Writin' and 'Rithmatic!

Hmmmm.... what IS inside?

Something awesome I am sure.

I have been putting off this post, but since this cat is climbing out of the bag on its own, I figured we may as well just talk about a really exciting change we are making this year.

Isabelle will be attending the Idaho Virtual Academy this year.

Before you scream HOME SCHOOL! AHHHHHH!
Let me stop you for a sec.

1. I don't feel that I could dive into a home school curriculum this year and do it justice, so I am using training wheels of a sort and enrolled Belle in the Idaho Virtual Academy K12 program. It is a great program, a free public charter school that you happen to attend at home! They send you a computer to use, all the curriculum and a teacher works with you along the way. It is accredited through the state and really my job is to keep us on task with her program. She will have the same and maybe a better education as other kids in her grade with the advantage of the flexibility of hours and location.

2. We didn't do this on the fly and neither did we plan this out a long ways. I don't really feel like talking about this in detail, but I also loathe rumors so I will say this: Sam and I have dreaded the issue of schooling since Belle was born. We just didn't know that we loved public school. But frankly, both of us have always been pretty anti-home school based on the homeschoolers we have known over the years. But a few years ago that perception changed as we met a family of mostly homeschooled kids who were... normal. (And shame on me for saying that, but I'm trying to say this as clearly as I can and as honestly as I can.) I think I started to feel a bit different about homeschooling after that, but it still wasn't what we were going for.
Our dream was a private school, but money... 'nuff said.
So, we did public school. Every day I would dread taking her to school. I loved her kindergarten teacher and I was as involved as I could be, but it was still just no fun and I can't fully say why. Last year we saw firsthand that our dear girl is a tough, wonderful, loving, resiliant girl who can thrive in spite of her environment. But that isn't enough for us. We don't want her to thrive in spite of anything.
We want her to thrive because of things and be in a positive uplifting environment that facilitates learning.
And, on that, I refuse to say another thing about last year because sometimes Thumper's Mom is right.

So, we investigated other schools in our district, private schools, some great charter schools in the area and for one reason or another (or none at all that we could quite put our fingers on) they just weren't the right choice. I was really stressing our lack or decision on school and had been praying and thinking hard on it.
But school at home never came into my mind as a feasible option.

Then one day I spoke with a person I barely know who does happen to home school who said some things that directly answered my questions and worries I'd been having about schooling for Belle and it immediately came to me that school at home was the exact thing to do this year.
I knew Sam would never be on board as he has always been the first to say no way about it.
So, with some nervousness I said to him, "I think we should do a home school type of program for Belle this year."
To my shock he just looked at me and said, "that is a great idea."

An hour later I started the registration process and we were going for it.

3. Belle isn't head over heels with the idea, but she isn't upset by it either. She is such a great girl and is so willing to try new things. She is excited about something new and I think she knows that we all need to reboot after last year. Plus, the idea of being home with the new baby is exciting for her and she is eager to be home while Buddy is in preschool (we'll get to it!). We've got great plans for our home cafeteria (she gets to learn to cook lots of fun food!), our custodial work and our grounds maintenance and Daddy intends to teach her art class to her and that is just exciting for us all.

4. I cannot wait to have her home with me all the time. I know she has to grow up and I try to give her more freedoms and responsibilities, but frankly, I'm not ready to have her gone that much and I miss her so when she isn't here. I am so happy about this. So darn happy.

So, there are the key points I'm assuming you will ask about. On the stuff like socialization, staying with grade level etc. I am pretty sure my Isabelle will be dandy socially speaking and again, the K12 curriculum does tests to make sure she is where she should be. Don't worry about my smart, sweet kid, she'll be just fine.

Oh and we have no idea if this is permanent or not. We know it is what we are supposed to do right now and that is as far as we need to know.

On to the fun!

This was our final bit of Friday Fun Day... opening the K12 boxes! Yay!

All the kids are so excited!
Buddy begged me to homeschool him, dear boy.
But, this year is preschool (told you I would get to it) and I enrolled him in the same incredible preschool Belle was in a few years back and I know he NEEDS this year away from us for a few hours to grow and mature and learn.
But I cannot say what will happen after that.
I just know that this year is going to be wonderful for him and I love him so much (and his soon to be teacher).

Back to the boxes!

Yay! Math stuff!

This was so much fun to open, you should have heard Belle squealing with delight over all of it.

Oh look! We got a baby in one of our boxes!

Belle with all her language arts books. She has been begging me to let her read them now, but I am trying to put her off until we start school (don't know how much longer it will work though).

Here is our classroom.
A corner of the basement.
We rarely use the basement (we were so excited for that big screen tv when we bought this house and yet we only use it a few times a year) so it seemed like a nice place for school. Quiet, out of the way from visitors who may break our school stuff and cool in summer yet warm in winter.

The Spiderman table is for Xander's "2 year old school". I am hoping I can keep him busy with coloring and stuff on this table while Belle is at her computer or at her other table working. Knock on wood.
Over on the other side you see Belle at her activity table we will be using for all the hands on work. Buddy is pretending to be her teacher. Love it.

Belle at her table with one of her books.
She was excited to find out she can work at her desk, at her table or even sit on the couch to read if she wants to!
Last night my parents brought by a desk for her computer (thank you so much) and Belle was so tickled to sit at it and look at her classroom all put together. It is a nice little layout and will be fun to use.

So, there you have it, we are doing school at home.

I know it isn't for everyone, but right now it is for us.

This has been a big year where we made a lot of choices that took us off the beaten path, but with each choice we have found this less traveled road to be the better one for our family. Sam and I both feel that for the time being this is one more path that may make us a bit unusual, but is right for our family.

So I'll make all of you a deal if you are not so sure of this new choice.
You promise not to think we are weirdos for doing this and we promise not to think you are weirdos for NOT doing this. We'll all just embrace our differences as one more way the world is a fun place to be. Deal?

I'll keep you posted over the year on how this goes, but let me tell you, I can't wait for this next adventure in our lives!


  1. YEAH! YEAH! This is me giving a virtual applause! I am so excited for you. I was SO close to homeschooling this year. I had even started buying curriculum books and such, but alas, now is not the time for our family and I'm mostly ok with that. Good luck and good for you. You won't regret this decision. I have read tons about homeschooling this summer and even those people who decide not to stick with it are glad for the experience. You are super-woman to take responsibility for your child and her education.

  2. Ah, Kimber, I'm glad you were able to figure out what's right for you and Belle this year. And you can go ahead and blame me if you decide to jump the rest of the way into homeschooling next year!

  3. SO happy for you guys :-) I think the k12 thing would ROCK but my hubby is not on board with that idea :-( So hopefully the Montessori school will be the happy medium I'm looking for. Have FUN!