Hazel Wants To go To Public School
And I want her to know she is in charge of her education. If Covid things keep going as expected we plan to enroll in 2nd grade this fall. This was not my plan and I, not so secretly, hope she hates it. I also know she won’t. I’m am not looking forward to early morning wake-ups, no random road trips, driving in snow again because you have to. I AM however excited for her to find ‘a crew’. I know she could do that while homeschooling but it is hard when the world locks down and you move to a new place… She’s excited and I support that!
Let me tell you how we got here
So, quietly, in my head, I thought “If the world shut down for a year and then it slowly opens back up this might be a good opportunity for Hazel to join in a classroom. Everyone needs to spend a little time catching back up and reaquainting themselves. It wouldn’t be as stark as coming back into a quickly flowing river, you know?” So I thought this thought a couple days. Then I made the big plan of mentioning it to James, thinking he would come out with the list of ‘yeah…buts’.
You know what he said?
“Funny you mention that, when we went to Jiffy Lube today we were waiting in the lobby and this lady was asking about our kids. Talking to Hazel, she asked what grade they were in and where they went to school (a common question when you have school aged kids out in the general public during normal school hours). She said we home schooled but that they are roughly 1st grade and Kindergarten.” Then she says that’s such a great age (to James), she has a grandkid that age and her daughter is actually the second grade teacher in Genesee (the town just south of us). James mentioned that Genesee is actually the district we’re in and then they continued the conversation… Hazel basically fell in love with this tangible person that is connected to the school she could be a part of and the grandma of a girl that will be going to the class that she could be in.
So, we talked about it
I’m not going to lie, my heart sank that James didn’t give me any ‘yeah…buts’ because this was both of our decisions to homeschool. This wasn’t the plan we made. The funny thing about the plan we made though, it never had an end date. We always set moving targets. “When they could do this, we could do that” sort of things. If you pressed me I usually say that the kids will probably go to public school, if they want, around 4th/5th grade. Really, it was when I felt they were comfortable enough with themselves to stand up for themselves and not fall easily into group think. I want them to be able to question things for themselves and be independent. Hazel is there. I watch her confidence level and how she plays with others. That’s been a challenge with less social interactions but I can still see enough to feel comfortable in this case.
The other important aspect
If we were in Boise, or even in the Moscow School District I can’t say I would be ready to send her off to be one of many in a big group of kids. Her school in Genesee is pre-K through 12th grade. In total there are 304 kids. That’s an average of 22 kids per grade. There is one class per grade, one teacher, per grade. All the kids know each other. It’s as close as you can get to the one room school house these days. What I know is that her school experience will not resemble mine. What I aim to protect her from just doesn’t exist in her district. I need to keep my projections in check.
I dug around the website and through all of the bios of staff and teachers available. They are all well qualified and passionate people. I can tell that by how they talk about their students and their jobs that they love their students. It feels like a safe space, emotionally, for a kid. That has been my biggest concern for these young ages. After looking up the second grade teacher, I know Hazel is going to adore her.
So I reached out
I reached out to her in order to see what I can do in the next 4 months to make the transition from homeschool to sticks and bricks school easier. Mostly, I was wondering if there are expectations and levels of proficiency outlined somewhere. She responded (within an hour!) with a warm welcome, a joke about her moms social habits at Jiffy Lube and a link to exactly what I need to get Hazel up to speed for an easy transition. It has really set my mind at ease!
We have a good sized list of things to work with Hazel on but I am confident she’s going to be ready. Her reading has really turned a corner in the last two months. We got the entire Magic Treehouse series and she’s energized to read. The actual reading definitely doesn’t come to her as easily as it does to Miles but she wants to try and that’s what counts. Her reading comprehension is better than mine, she’s above grade level in maths, she’s artistic, creative and most of all, kind. This new goal of enrolling this fall has her determined to work hard and she is!
This all happened last week
There has been a lot of freaking out, on my part, since then. I have had waves of fear, plenty of ‘well, what will I do? I guess I better get a real job or something’. It’s kind of flipped my world around. I wasn’t immediately good at separating the impacts on me from impacts on her. Now I am rolling well into, “that’s a me problem, not a her issue” and focusing on what I need to get her situated. Then I will worry about me. As of this day, I’m settling into a happy thought of getting to spend next year, one-on-one, with Miles. He does NOT want to do public school, yet (and I’m not ready to put him there). I think once he sees that his sister loves it he’ll change his mind, but for now, I think a year together will do us both a lot of good, too.
We had a test yesterday to see how I felt when I heard about the shooting at Rigby Middle School. Rigby is a small, rural Idaho town, not too different to ours. Safety is indeed a scary thought when sending your kids off. I don’t want those fears internalized in them nor can I shelter them forever, life is forever a balance. The small school size, I believe, allows for more accountability and connection. I believe in the passion of the teachers I have only read about yet. I believe they take the very real concern of school safety seriously. And I believe they love their students, strive to make connections and will create an environment where everyone can look out for everyone else. I also believe Hazel will only be enriched by joining that community.
My ultimate goal
My ultimate goal is to enable my kids to love learning and to give them the steering wheel when they feel ready. I think so far that’s been successful. Homeschool for Hazel feels like it might be holding her back more than it’s helping this year, she so desperately wants to try it. She knows that she can change her mind for 3rd grade if she wants. She also knows that enrolling is a year long commitment, even if it’s not what she hoped for. We still have to goal of taking the kids’ 4th grade years and doing another National Park Tour. We will just take each school year year by year and see how it goes.
She has not wavered at all. Even when we told her she’s going to miss the entire first week in order to be a flower girl at her cousins wedding in Chicago… such a great start, I know :/… That’s got me stressed far more than her.
Side story: Have you ever seen the Netflix show, Love Life, with Anna Kendrick. It’s a great show. It’s kind of about how all of your relationships through time teach you things that you carry with you and they effect you always. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Experience none-the-less to learn from. Well, when I was in college, I dated a man from Genesee. He was a great guy, we had different goals in life. What I took away was how, when he told me about his school experience it was SO different than mine. I thought, ‘if I ever have kids I want them to be raised in a small town like Genesee so they have the opportunities and experience that he had’. I had no plans of ever having kids, yet here we are. When we found this place, after literally looking across the entire country, I thought it was SO funny that my kids will actually get THE Genesee experience… if we stopped homeschooling. It’s so random how life manifests in the ways to learn to let it.