School Days

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

~Mark Twain

People ask me what the best and worst part of homeschooling was. Well, here it is:

Best: Being home with my kids all day long

Worst: Being home with my kids all day long.

In all seriousness, I consider the five months I taught my kids a gift and will look back fondly on that time we had together.

It also made me realize homeschooling gets a bad rap. Heck, even I was quick to judge or stereotype homeschoolers, but not until we actually tried it did I realize the benefits.

I was able to tailor a curriculum to meet the needs of each of my kids. I could explore topics based on their interests, challenge them and was able to teach to my “whole” child. It was exciting and for the most part, seamless and fun.

Aside from the enjoyable elements, homeschooling can also be isolating. I know this is more a condition of our circumstance, moving to a new country and all, but I realized it’s important to have activities that get you out of the house.

There are homeschool groups and co-ops, which are wonderful, but this wasn’t something we sought. After all, just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you will necessarily click with a group. Many of the groups in the area focused on educational methods like Waldorf, Unschooling and Montessori, while others were Christian based. Ultimately, I didn’t want to align ourselves with any philosophies as I felt we had our own, unique style. We eventually found more value in creating relationships through extracurricular activities.

Thankfully, we are at a point now where we are immersing ourselves back into a routine, which is where we will continue to create our strongest connections and friendships. Come September, Soren will be skating twice a week and possibly starting a hockey program. Elsa will be taking over five hours of dance a week comprised of ballet, jazz and modern classes. Sophie is starting up in a local theater program and taking guitar lessons.

As much as we loved homeschooling and liked the idea of continuing down this path, we decided to give public school a chance. The school year starts next week. Sophie is the old pro, so we plan on dropping her off the first day and speeding away. Kidding, but that may happen given we have to get Elsa and Soren to school shortly afterward.

Up until a few months ago we were happily resigned to the fact that Soren and Elsa would attend the elementary school just a few blocks away. It seemed like a decent school, but after researching and talking with neighbors we realized we had other options. Who would have known school choice and enrollment is just as confusing and chaotic in Canada as it is in California. 🙂

We discovered all students are granted the right to a French language education, which is the route we decided to take, enrolling Soren and Elsa at a local, public French immersion school.

In making this decision, it meant that Soren would attend Primary (i.e., Kindergarten). Unlike the states, in Nova Scotia, a child must be five by December 31st in order to attend Primary. After much thought and given Soren will be five on October 1st, we decided to send him.

Redshirting isn’t a common practice here and when we mentioned waiting on Primary, most principals, preschool teachers and educators we spoke with all asked the same question, “why?” Had we waited with Soren, he would have been placed with far younger children in a private preschool or had been the oldest child amongst his peers in a new and somewhat unknown Pre Primary program provided at the public schools.

(Note: that last sentence has some great alliteration)

I really had to dig deep and think, why did I want to hold him back? He wouldn’t be the youngest in his class, he is extremely social and has become somewhat of a math whiz, so why was I hesitating? I eventually realized the reason; I wasn’t ready and I wanted more time at home with Soren. I was sad to let him go full time which clearly wasn’t a valid reason to redshirt your kid from Kindergarten.

Obviously, I got over myself because he’s set to start next Wednesday. I know amidst all the chaos of being spoken to in French, he will love it and have a blast making new friends and telling them fart jokes. I have a sneaky feeling he will be the class clown.

So you’re thinking, what about Elsa? You’re forcing her to start at a French school in third grade??? Quelle horreur!

No worries, Soren is Elsa’s ticket to ride, which means she will be in one of the 3rd grade English classrooms as they do offer a non-immersion program. Given we don’t live within the actual neighborhood for the school, Elsa wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise, so thankfully it all worked out.

All of this means, I need to get back into Duolingo. Having taken French in high school and college, I finally get to use my language skills! I knew there was a reason I didn’t take Spanish. Parker took German so he is basically a lost cause and a scheißkopf. 😉

I am cautiously optimistic about our foray into Canadian public schools. So while we test the waters, I look forward to once again being part of a school community and hopefully volunteering in the classroom. The other upside to three of four kids in public school is having one-on-one time with Ellinor and some potential alone time for myself.

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