My husband and I have a pretty big decision to make sometime in the very near future. I'm so torn that I'm going to toss this one out to the internet and see what others have to say on the subject.
The education system where we live is very, very bad. We live on the border of Mexico and the culture here is incredibly different than anywhere else I've ever lived. (For the record, I have lived in central Iowa, NE Iowa, Missouri, Utah, central Texas and now here.) My husband is a military brat and he's lived all over the world. (After graduating high school in Panama, my hubby joined the Air Force. He's been everywhere!) He equates a lot of what we experience where we live to what it's like in less-industrial parts of the world and even third-world countries.
Poverty is rampant in our part of the state. Gang activity is active. Within the culture, children speak Spanish until they are plunked into school. Much of the first few years of school are spent helping children learn English. All of these factors make for a less than ideal school environment.
Couple this with all the rules and regulations of No Child Left Behind and the school environment becomes even less ideal. Needless to say, I've been horribly disappointed.
For all these reasons and more, we chose to place Herman in a virtual academy when he started high school this year. This hybrid kind of homeschool is working rather well for us!!
Because the testing environment really kicks in in third grade - we have decided for sure that TT is going to stay at home next year. It is my plan to enroll him in the same virtual academy that Herman attends. (TXVA accepts kids in 3rd through 11th grade - 12th grade will be available next year.) TT's anxiety is off the charts this year. Schooling at home will allow him to work on a pace that is good for him. And it will allow me to not emphasize the annual state testing so much. Yes, he'll still take the tests. But I'm not going to blow their importance out of perspective.
That leaves me with the decision of how to school Bart. (I don't have to decide anything for foster kids in our family. They are required to attend brick and mortar public schools.)
All about Bart:
Bart is 7 years old. He's currently in 1st grade. He gets straight A's. He's reading at a 3rd grade level. He's writing for fun. (He just wrote a small chapter book based on some research he's done!) He tested last year at the end of kindergarten and was placed into the gifted program this year. Thankfully he does have a wonderful teacher! She gives him harder math, spelling and reading assignments. She does a very good job of channeling his extra energy. In fact, during a conference last night, she says when he gets going sometimes, she will let him go ahead and explain concepts to the class. She indicated that he's a wonderful teacher and she lets him assist her regularly.
How do I school Bart next year?
TXVA (the virtual academy) doesn't take 2nd graders. I don't particularly want to send only Bart to brick and mortar next year. (We have no idea what other children will be in our home next fall.) I do want to keep Bart at home too. I think that will be easier.
During the conference with Bart's current 1st grade teacher, she indicated that Bart would be capable of skipping 2nd grade. She said that he's already mastered the skills that kids need by the end of 2nd grade.
If I'm going to keep Bart home, what curriculum do I use?
Do I piecemeal things together and just "wing" second grade? I can get some curriculum like A Beka and MathUSee. I can let Bart listen in on lessons with TT when applicable.
Or do I see if TXVA would let Bart skip a grade?
See -- I'm NOT planning on homeschooling forever. While I believe that homeschooling is great for some kids and for some families...at this time I don't feel "called" to homeschool. In our case, we are doing it as an educational alternative. I do believe it's what we are supposed to do next year. And I will trust God if for some reason we are to continue it long-term.
But we won't be living in this part of Texas forever. In order for my husband to get a promotion in his job, we will have to move. That's just how his employer works. I envision a move as early as this summer even. It will all depend on what jobs are available and where they are at. It is currently our plan to put all the cherubs back in brick and mortar when we leave Texas.
Which makes this dilemma sticky.
Bart is capable of 3rd grade academic work. His current teacher even feels that socially he would be fine if he skipped a grade. Me though -- I'm not so sure about the social side of things.
He would be fine if we homeschooled through high school. However, studies have proven that the youngest kids in the class struggle in brick and mortar situations. So while Bart may be ready to do the academic work of 3rd grade - would we be setting him up for failure when he's older if we bump him?
This is a long and rambling sort of post again. If you actually made it this far, I'd love to hear your thoughts!! Especially if you've got an opinion about kids skipping a grade.