Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Middle of the Road

Arlene Pellicane asks:

My kids are in 1st and 3rd grade and we love our public school which has a dual immersion program in Spanish. They are being taught mostly in Spanish and a little English which we really love. But for junior high, maybe homeschooling. Any thoughts about advantages of homeschooling particularly for the junior high years?

One of the ongoing topics among any group of homeschoolers is "How long do you plan to do it?" Some families are in for a year, because of changing situations in their lives; some plan to go the entire twelve. A few plan to take them until high school, letting the professionals do the final buff and polish. However, in all the times I heard this conversation play out, I cannot remember a single parent saying "We're very excited about her trying out bricks-and-mortar middle school!"

Not one.

Middle school is necessary and I believe there are special extra-comfortable couches waiting in heaven for those teachers who voluntarily take on groups of thirteen year-olds for a living, but it's a febrile cohort. As Alice and her friends have reached that age, I'm pulled aside at least twice a month by someone who never imagined themselves homeschooling but are dismayed by their middle-school options here in Los Angeles. Weirdly enough, in a city of millions, there are about five public middle schools where the kids seem to be doing well, both educationally and emotionally. This isn't a secret; every parent tracking these things knows it. We've got dozens of interesting high schools, but middle schools?


The whispers about "What are we doing to do if he doesn't get into  LACES" start, and the next thing you know someone is buttonholing me at a birthday party as I hoard the deviled eggs, wanting to talk about homeschooling a pre-teen. Here's what I know:


We're still running the experiment. I'm hoping the research I did and the work we're putting in to Alice's education is doing right by her, but I could be completely screwing her up in some way I can't even see or imagine. Then again, the parent walking her son to the school down the street or working extra hours to cover private school is in the same dilemma. I doubt any generation before us has thought more about our children's education. History will show whether this kind of intensive focus made any difference whatsoever.

Now, here's what I believe. My daughter appears to be learning things. She has friends and is open to interesting opportunities because we can schedule our lives a little more creatively. We appear to experience less of the preadolescent drama around here, I'm guessing because she's not marinating in it six hours a day. I'm not hearing about how I'm making her wear LAST WEEK'S SHOES!!!  No one from her school has written mean things about her on the Internet. I believe not going through these situations won't actually prevent her from becoming a kind, hardworking, interested, interesting adult. We'll see, won't we?

Middle school can be done online. There are classes to take in person so kids can still stare at one another and pass notes about cuteness. There are classes to take online, so you don't have to dredge up Spanish grammar yourself. The options are endless. The option can also include deciding to do it for a year, see if it works for you. If you all grow heartily sick of each other after a month, you can always take them to the nearest public school.

I've heard good things about it.


Post a Comment

<< Home