Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Word About Kindergarten

Bethelle's favorite aspect of life before we left Bainbridge Island was kindergarten.  When we discussed the move and our options before coming to California, I told Bethelle that the schools were different here and that she would not be enrolled until we came back home to Washington.  She concluded that she would still rather be with her daddy than stay in school.

Why no school in San Francisco?  For one thing they are very poor performing.  Bethelle was not getting much academically out of even her "good" school so what would be the point at a bad one?  In SF, the enrolled children are part of a lottery.  They are expected to attend whatever school around the city that they are assigned to in order to prevent the segregation of neighborhoods to penetrate the schools.  I would not consider putting her on a bus in any downtown and sending her across the city to a terrible school.  What would she learn on that ride?  Those lessons can wait a decade or two.

It is a commonly accepted truth here, regardless of political preference, that the schools are terrible.  The moms talk about it at church, at parks, in grocery lines, everywhere.  The wisdom is that you enter your child in the school lottery while keeping a private school or a home school plan in your back pocket.  If you are lucky enough to get an acceptable school, you dump plan b.  This approach means that those without means for private school or for an at-home parent end up with no options and an unfortunate education.  This is a sad commentary on the area and one of the worst strikes against San Francisco that I have encountered.

And so Bethelle does not go to school.

She can read, write, add, and subtract.  These things have come as a fairly natural result of who she is and who I am and not any formal stretch.  She makes friends easily and I make sure she gets interactions with other children.  She loves to craft and wants to be either a scientist or an artist.  At her age, I wanted to be a bus driver.  Recently, we sat at home for a couple days straight and I began investigating formal homeschooling options.  Then we started getting out of the house and exploring the city more.  I believe that this is a sufficient education for her for now.  I am no longer looking at formal programs.

Bethelle has always been very involved in whatever I am doing.  She has never really been overly interested in spending time with her toys.  Weird, I know.  She seems to prefer doing laundry with me.  The point is that she learns and asks questions and does.  Tonight as I began to blog, she asked if she could type for me.  I don't have anything impressive to say about her words per minute, but I let her type.  I spoke the words one at a time.  Bethelle typed and Rigby hit the space bar between each word.  Here are some of the words she typed, as she typed them without help:
   impressiv   (impressive)
   thouhgt      (thought)
   stockt         (stocked)
When I said the words, "which" and "to," she asked me clarifying questions so that she would spell the correct form of the word.  What?!  What kindergartner knows that stuff?

Well, I meant this to be about kindergarten, but it sounds like bragging about Bethelle.  I just wanted to pen my thoughts and reasonings on this stage and decision.  And to document how impressed I was with her spelling tonight.  I am so thankful for my special little girl and I feel that even without school, her progression continues.


Trisha said...

She sure is an awesome little girl! Joee gets so emotional whenever Bethelle comes up in conversation. She just doesn't like how long of a "vacation" you seem to be taking.

Rushton's said...

Hi guys! I just got done reading all your posts since a visit to Santa to see what has happened with you guys. We felt totally stupid that we didn't know why you had moved. Your posts are so fun to read, we love them! I am such a slacker and just getting our christmas card out, no make that New Years card, but wanted your new address and I don't have your guys' email either. could you email me at tara_rushton(@)yahoo (dot)com with the new address pretty please? Such fun new experiences that is so cool, new, scary, sad, tons of emotions all at once. Love and Miss you guys, Tommy, Tara, Howie and Olivia Rushton

Brooke said...

Good gravy! I'd be bragging all day about a kid like that! :-)

I LOVE the homeschool option, especially at this age. You're doing a great job with all your kids.

christina said...

very impressiv!

i think my little B should get to hang out with Bethelle more.


Robin said...

Hey Elke, funny you should say this sort of thing, because (okay, I'll out with it) I am seriously considering the homeschooling option for my kids. Who knows what I'll be thinking a few years from now, but for the present, it seems like a good idea. So, whatever you end up doing, I'm rooting for you! (PS, if you ever wanted to chit or chat, I've done LOTS of research the past two years and could give you some sites to look at if you're interested.)

Paul said...

Elke: I finally got to read all your stories and it almost brings tears to my eyes. We miss you but are so happy that you are taking it all in, thanks for sharing....................... Pablo

Meagan Kemp said...

I think you've made a stellar decision. Dianna has often said that she learned all she knows about America and American History the year her family tooled around the entire country in an RV being 'home schooled' visiting all the historic sites, landmarks and regions. Good job mom!

Garth said...

Elke and family,
Bethelle, Rigby and Curie are in school everyday. All children should be homeschooled until they learn to teach themselves. They should be homeschooled even if they are in a formal school setting. We sure love these grandchildren and their Mom and Dad.
Love, Mom and Dad J.

Our Ohana said...

It looks like you made a good decision! Hawaii schools are terrible too, and it always frustrated me, but mostly just terrible academically and not dangerous or rough in the same way those city schools might be. And her spelling?! You definitely don't need to worry about her falling behind! She's way ahead! Keep up the good work!