Today, we all went to check out the school we are thinking about sending Allika to.
When we pulled into the parking lot we all sat there and prayed together that God would give us wisdom and help us to see what he wanted us to see. We asked that he would open and close doors in an obvious way and that our hearts would be very sensitive to his direction, even if it would involve sacrifices and inconveniences on our part.
I know some of you probably think we're taking this a little too seriously, but I do believe it will have a great effect on Allika's future and the direction of her life.
Van and I got to observe in several of the classes, and Allika got to attend the classes as a guest. She absolutely loved it. She was a little awkward socially (go figure), but was very excited that several of the kids liked her. She did very well academically. She will be put in 2nd grade for reading and the advanced math class. She will finish out the remainder of 1st grade in all her other subjects (science, art, phys.ed., music, geography).
They do teach both creation and evolution. A note is sent home to the parents when evolution is being taught to let them know what aspects are being covered and when. That way, when the kids are at home, the parents can go over exactly what is being taught. They also allow the kids to choose not to participate in those portions of the lessons if it goes against their beliefs to do so.
They do really well at adapting to each individual child's level of learning. They do one-on-one teaching with children who need it. We saw little desks set up all over with a teacher and a student working together on something. In addition, children are put in higher grades if the child is advanced in a particular subject. They also set their classes up with different "stations" of specific aspects of the same subject. The children rotate through stations and learn about a particular subject from various angles. I believe they referred to it as differentiation. It gives students the opportunity to learn according to their particular learning style.
Everything is very hands-on, even in the higher grades. The kids are also encouraged to be a part of some of the decisions regarding the school. They vote for what equipment to buy for the playground (they get votes for different decisions based on how many books they read), they help to build the playground, they clean parts of the school that they have a personal connection to. It gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
They value parental involvement and require it, so I am excited to get involved in Allika's school that way. Today, she was asking me and Van to please leave, so I don't know how thrilled she will be to have me there, but oh well. It's part of life.
All our questions and worries were answered very satisfactorily. There just seem to be several indications to go ahead with it that we probably shouldn't ignore. One thing we find very interesting is that we are scheduled to start April 6, and there are over 200 people on the waiting list to get in. How did that happen when we weren't even actively pursuing an education with them? The other thing is that all our reasons for why we wouldn't want to send her to school (which are probably different than most people who home-school) are no longer valid in this situation. When we combine that with some concerns we have had lately about some things that are hard to explain here, we wonder if God isn't preparing the way before us to send her to this school.
The only thing that's really hard for me is not being able to be with her all the time. I know part of parenting is slowly letting go, but this doesn't seem very slow. I love spending time with her and getting to experience life together. I also dreamed of being a home-school mom. It is how I always pictured we would be. I don't like to admit defeat, but I do think this will be better for her in the long run. I know not everyone will understand or agree with our decision, but I also know that they aren't aware of all the details surrounding our decision. They still may not agree even if they were.
Anyway, I think we are leaning toward giving this a try. It is a huge decision. To some of you, it may not seem that way, but for me, it really is difficult.