I am exhausted after a couple of weeks visiting and observing in schools and researching homeschooling. I think I found a school that I can live with and that my children will love and I am still considering homeschooling. Below I talk about both.
Here is a few things I was looking for(important to me) and observed. In blue is my answers to the one school I narrowed it down to.
1. Time it would take me to drive there with traffic. (20 min)
2. Does the school go through elementary? (yes, 8th grade)
3. Do the children have access to the outside from their classrooms to work? AND Can they do it freely? (Yes, and YES)
4. How much outside space do they have to run and play? (the school sits on 3 acres of land. there are two huge play areas. One has the typical play equipment and the other is the nature side with a pond, gardens, etc.. They trade areas weekly)
5. Are there two certified teachers in the classroom? (Yes until after lunch. After lunch the younger kids go home and the older kids stay with one teacher. This is usually 10-12 kids)
6. How where the teachers speaking to the children? Softly and respectfully? Yes
7. How where the children interacting with one another? I liked what I saw
8. Did the children seem happy and engaged? Yes
9. How where the children re-directed when needed? I liked what I saw
10. Do the teachers track what works the children have had lessons on and have worked on? and if so, how do they do this? Yes, one teacher is responsible for tracking the younger kids that stay half day and the other teacher tracks the other children.
11. Did I feel comfortable with the Director, secretary, teachers and staff and just the overall feeling? ( Basically, did I feel it was right?) Yes
10. How did the teacher help the children resolve problems? I liked what I saw
11. Are parents encouraged to volunteer in the classrooms? Yes Are parents welcomed? Yes
12. Do 4 and 5 year olds have to nap? This is torture for my son at his current school. No naps.
13. Can 5 year olds (Kinder students) just go half days? (Most schools don't allow this. This school allows half day Kinder)
14. Do they have a 2 to 3 hours uninterrupted work period? You won't believe how some schools Primary schedule looks more like a traditional schedule due to so many special classes. (2.5 hours in the morning)
To find the answers, I spoke to 4 parents who have their children there or have had their children at the school. I observed in both primary classrooms for 40 minutes and in one of the elementary classrooms for one hour. I observed in the morning in the Primary classrooms. I will be going back next week to observe outside play time, lunch and afternoon time. I spoke to the teachers after school was out so I could get answers to some of my questions and some answers I got from the Director or Moms.
With homeschooling I have talked to several moms in my neighborhood who homeschool and several college students I have taught that have been homeschooled. Some mom's homeschool and their children attend Coops and some parents have their kids in a part-time school. The part-time school is a two day a week school with a classical curriculum. The parents follow the schools curriculum to teach at home.
I have spent many hours reading books, articles, and also looking at health insurance. We have a problem with health insurance. We would have to pay $650 a month on health insurance if we put our family on my husbands health insurance. We are planning on a third child so we really need a good health insurance specially since I have to have C-sections with my children. Right now my main concern is health insurance. OR my other choice is to keep my job and homeschool.
My husband is fully supportive to do either. I'm leaning towards trying out this school. It seems like a wonderful place to learn.
My husband still needs to visit the school and then we will sit down talk and figure this out!