Mirin has so far survived two weeks of his new charter school, and has even gotten to experience a hurricane day.
This charter school has some great things about it: project based, creative, drama class on Fridays with an old acquaintance of mine, Capoiera instead of PE. There is a lot of good energy behind this school, and his former homeschooling friend we met at a co-op meeting is also attending.
Mirin was initially very worried about being in school. His spelling is not good, and he is a slow reader. He knew we wanted him to have higher standards than he was being held to in homeschool, and more discipline and focus.
He has so far said he really enjoys school. He has already made friends. He is delighted that there is actually less discipline and less rigorous academic requirements than in my homeschool. A lot is done on computers, with games, so he is enjoying this distraction that would not be tolerated at home. There are copious amounts of junk food he has also been enjoying immensely.
And in homeschool, Rose is now flourishing. It was always very difficult to try to get Mirin to focus on his studying because he was always provoking the little sisters into fits of rage or tears while I was busy with one or the other. He would spend all day being a nuisance, would accomplish absolutely nothing except a lot of whining and complaining, I would be completely drained of energy and fed up with him, and the sisters would be fractious and close to hysteria from being pestered so much. It has been so nice to spend time with my girls.
I also LOVE not being responsible about his education (or actually the lack of) any more. This was a big issue for me. We have lots of concerned family in town. The harder I tried, the less he seemed to care. I spent hours pouring over books about different education techniques. I scoured the internet for fun ideas. I invented stories and games just for him. Everything was geared to appeal to him as much as possible, to cater to what he wanted, what he liked, and as a result he hated it all and scorned it.
And when he refused to learn, it wasn't his problem - it was my problem. Everyone came to me - I wasn't trying hard enough, I wasn't qualified. I wasn't doing enough. It was my failure, not his. This was very unhealthy for both of us. I feel freed from this, and I was glad to hear my dad lecturing him about trying harder in school.
(Another thing I have realized is that my homeschool is actually quite good. The Math he is learning in school is stuff we were reviewing this year from two years ago. He claims that what I considered minimal effort for 6th grade level was actually much more rigorous than is expected at public school for writing and thinking. Maybe instead of Standardized Testing, the schools need concerned relatives breathing down their necks to improve standards. It gave me such a sense of inadequacy, but it made our homeschool standards sharp.)
On the other hand, he is very, very stressed out. He comes home snarling and swearing. He does nothing creative, he only craves the screen and idle distraction. He has lost his mature homeschooler demeanor for an obnoxious manic blabbering and erratic jumping around that I have observed so often in kids just let out of school. I was not expecting this change to happen so fast. I think part of this is because the 6th grade class is notoriously badly behaved, and every day I hear stories of how a teacher just gave up on the class, there was a fight, someone was expelled, a teacher was in tears, he couldn't hear what the teacher was saying because the class was so disrupted. So while he is not being bullied, like our last school experience, but I am also not happy that he is surrounded by such strong examples of disrespect and disorder.
So we are really not sure about this change. I am very glad he is so happy and making friends, but it is not providing what we wanted: more discipline or higher educational expectations.
(I want to clarify that the other grades at this school are reportedly not like the 6th grade at all. This class is particularly rowdy for some reason, and is giving the staff a big challenge, so please don't form a bad opinion about this school just based on our experience of the 6th grade! It is a great school, and there are great people working there with wonderful ideas. I think they will sort it out, but they have only just gotten started as a school.)