Part-time schooling pt2

Principle 12: Creatively use and respond to change

After one term of two days a week at Tallarook Primary School, Kai decided that he wanted to spend more time at home. He kept telling us that he found school 'boring'. We explained to him that if he continues one day a week at school he would still be able to spend time with his friends that he has made, the thing that he enjoys most. He thought that one day a week sounded much better, and so for the second term Kai told his teachers that that's what he wanted to do.

Before I continue further, I just wanted to say that we are most impressed with Tallarook P.S., to have such open and understanding teachers is fantastic, they have been very supportive of the choices that we have made. I think that the schooling system has improved tremendously since I was there, and being part of a small school like Tallarook, with only 50 or so kids, gives us the feeling of being part of a caring community. We get involved as much as we would if we were enrolled full-time and are well received by the other parents there.

We chose Monday for our school day, as this is the day when teachers and kids have the most energy, and the most fun stuff happens at school. We manage to drop Kai off by train in the morning, but need to pick him up by car in the afternoon as the train times don't work for us. He seems to enjoy his time there, but never has much to say about what he has done - which seems pretty normal.

At home we try our best to follow through with Kai's interests, as well as our own. Often, there is an opportunity for him to get involved in what we are doing too. He wants to feel useful and contribute (most of the time). I like to think that we are practicing 'home based learning' rather than 'home schooling'. We do have times where we focus on reading, counting and writing - but mostly it's just a part of the things that we do. He might not be as advanced as the other kids, but I get the feeling that he will be able to read, count and write - in both English and Japanese - before he gets too old. We try to encourage him, but not pressure him.

For instance, right now in the background I can hear Kai and Sen playing UNO - a numbers based card game. Kunie is speaking to them in Japanese, and Kai is responding in English. He's learning by osmosis, and enjoying what he is doing.

Leaf printing on material - 'Happazome' in Japanese
Making dumplings - 'Gyoza' in Japanese
Coring and slicing apples for preserving

When we talk about what we are doing with people around us we often get told that kids need school for socialisation. We believe that Kai is getting the best of both worlds by part-time schooling.

Kai got his first semester report back yesterday and I read it out to the family. He's at the standard that expected and received 'very good' for effort and 'excellent' for class behaviour. The fears that we had about whether we were doing the right thing or not have dissolved somewhat as we ease into this as a way of life and continue to get positive feedback from his teachers and peers.

Kai's teacher and principle feedback for his first semester at school.


ronnie said…
its lovely to see a school (and school system? or am I interpreting systemic support?) embrace a flexible alternative to schooling..... our kids are enrolled in the local small state school (one is in year 3 our eldest is in year 5).... last year we trialled having the kids home for one day per week.... the response from the NSW dept of education (corporate communications section) was positively draconian - both the school and our family were threatened with all manner of things - including legal action by the dept. crazy stuff. (perhaps it seems even crazier when I tell you I'm a trained teacher!)

both our kids like school - they like the socialising, the sports, the specialised equipment (like computers and internet - something they don't have at home).... but they also enjoy the activities and personal empowerment that comes from being at home - to read the books they'd like (and when it suits them best), to be outside learning practical things around the farm (how many 11 yr old lads do you know who have been up to their armpits in cow internals, learning by doing how to help a prolapsed cow?...)

part-time schooling may well be the best approach to learning for many kiddies - if only it was easier to pursue....
Danny said…
In high school, one of my best friends was a fellow football player who'd been homeschooled until freshman year. To this day, his sister (who was also homeschooled until high school) and him are shining examples academically, socially, and morally.

He's graduating college this year. It took him four years, which is interestingly a year and half faster than average.

I know that particular family is only anecdotal evidence, but I firmly believe homeschooling has a much better potential to produce productive and well-adjusted members of society than public schooling especially.

It's a shame that we value work more highly than family time in this country. Wages shouldn't be so low as to prevent homeschooling from being the predominant form of schooling.

The country would be better for it.

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