Friday, May 06, 2011

Still searching for the right fit

I'm feeling a bit bummed today. In the past week I've checked out two local home school programs that I thought would be great matches for our family, or more specifically, for Iris. My goal was to find a one day per week program that ran throughout the school year so that Iris would have a chance to build relationships with kids that would last for a while (both of these programs fit that bill). Before touring, I imagined myself feeling really torn between the two, not sure which to choose, because in my mind, they both seemed so perfect. Unfortunately, reality is rarely perfect. Now I wonder if either is even going to be "good enough".

The first program we checked out is an (outdoor) wilderness program. The space it was held was incredible, the teachers were fantastic, it was all really amazing. The only problem that I see now, and one that I anticipated, was that we have a child who, well, kind of hates being outside if the weather is anything less than stellar. And we live in Seattle, so hello. I think "our weather is less than stellar" should be the city's new motto. Iris did say she liked what we learned about at the open house, but she didn't want to do class outside all day. Fair enough. Truth be told, I probably wouldn't, either. We are not an "outdoorsy" family. I liked that Iris would get exposure to things we really wouldn't otherwise do with her. The one other majorly redeeming factor about this particular program is that it is extremely close to home. It's just a five minute drive or a very hearty walk straight up hill for about two miles.

The second program we went to check out was entirely different. It is a small group that focuses on language arts. The classes are held in a space that doesn't belong to the teacher, so it is simply borrowed on class days, which means there is nothing the kids work on that is that big, or messy, or a permanent part of their environment. They do daily field trips and explore the neighborhood and parks in a very beautiful area of the city. In my mind I envisioned the program more of being a spot for huge, messy explosions of creativity, but it's more like little explosions of creativity. This particular program is run in a neighborhood that can take about 30-40 minutes to get to if traffic is bad, which it would be every morning. While the teacher seemed very smart and full of great ideas and information, it didn't feel to me that there was that much going on, education wise, that I couldn't do with Iris at home. The main goal, for me, of that program would be the social element.

Both programs pretty much ask for a commitment for the whole program year right up front.

So, yeah, I'm bummed. I am feeling like I might need to throw out my desire for a pre-made, structured program and dig a little deeper to figure out what I can put together that will be the right thing for Iris's social, emotional and educational growth. I mean, that should be pretty easy, right?


  1. ooooh, that's too bad. or is it? i dunno. it's too bad that you didn't find what you were hoping for, right off the bat. do you think that the first program (that sounds like my dream, personally!) would just be too much? or do you think it might be something she'd grow to like and appreciate? maybe it's a fine line (there are such scenarios in our family too, and it's a really hard question to answer). the up front commitment sounds a little intimidating, for sure, but given that you are going to be with her for the majority of the time, i wonder if something totally out of the norm might actually turn into a good thing? of course this comes from someone with an outdoor ed background, so take that with a grain of salt!

  2. This is really interesting, and I can understand being disappointed in not finding a perfect fit.
    While I am not going through the same process, I can share my mantra: if it doesn't work, you can always try something different:)

  3. Just a thought...if you're ideally searching for a program that would offer purely social opportunities for her to work on and grow in and form relationships, i've found through our own homeschooling journey that the only true place to do that is in a free play homeschool park days or something similar. Have you connected with a local homeschool group yet? Most that I'm familiar with do have a regular weekly free play sort of meeting at a park :) We've done classes and other scheduled programs like art classes or lego clubs which you would think would offer social opportunities but in reality the kids are engaged in the scheduled activity or just not allowed to socialize freely during the class. They've never formed truly lasting friendships with kids in those environments. All of their true friendships have been made when there was ample time to interact freely with each other. Another good thing we've done is homeschool Co-Op. It allowed us to combine organized activities with social time in between classes or during lunch break, and afterwards with getting together with other families at the park or a local museum or such. Usually it's pretty inexpensive too (Co-Ops)...and park days are free! Hope that perspective helps!

  4. Thanks Blair, Holli and Kim!
    Blair, yes, I think this program would be perfect for your family :) I don't know if she could grow to like it. I think that is a very plausible scenario. I also know that if she didn't, it would make her crabby and that would make it really hard for her to do well with the other kids.
    Holli, I totally agree with your mantra! Yes, we could technically change it, but would most likely be out a huge amount of money if we decided to drop out.
    Kim, there are tons of playgroups and classes and plenty of opportunities for getting together with other kids. My main goal was for Iris to have a set group of kids to hang out with every single week to form a more permanent relationship with. But who knows? Maybe the park days and all of that will be enough for her? Not having had a chance to attend any yet, I don't really know if it's the same kids every time. I really, really, really wish we had a homeschool co-op that would work. I haven't seen any in our end of town and the other ones I found are through religious groups. I am extremely surprised there aren't more co-op options as co-ops are right up my alley.

  5. I'm betting even without a co-op, you could find a HS group that sets play dates. If not, they at least likely have a Yahoo Group or something where YOU could arrange play dates. A bit more pressure to arrange it yourself, but especially if you got a schedule going, it shouldn't be too much work.

  6. yeah, i would think that the struggle would be so HARD if she just didn't like the program and didn't adjust. did you ask the teachers/director about this... if some kids do make the adjustment or if it's just something that isn't suited for some?


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