When my first born was a year old, we relocated to London. I was leaving my family and friends behind, not to mention a job I adored. The upside was enormous; I was going to be able to stay home with my daughter.
We left full time daycare behind us, a distant memory, and I relished in fulfilling my idea of what a Mom should be. I was out of bed before my little explorer, with a hot breakfast ready for her every morning. Then we were out of the house and off to the park by 8AM. She played for two hours, and she had a snack in her stroller on the way home. Lunch was followed by an afternoon nap, and then I worked with her on early learning subjects as well as visiting the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and our local Library’s music time every week. Bed time was 6:00, so there was a mad dash for dinner and a bath before my little sweetie passed out where she sat.
Eventually, I found Gymboree, Art Barn, Toddler Times, and Teddy Tennis. (If you happen to be in the Kensington area of London, I HIGHLY recommend all of these!) We also had a weekly playgroup with other youngsters her age. This kid was busy.
When she was two and a half, she was ready for the nursery school across the street, Iverna Montessori. I had never heard of Montessori, so for me it was an eye-opening experience.
If you haven’t heard of Montessori, I recommend reading about it. Basically, you provide a child a stimulating environment in which they teach themselves. “Teachers” actually don’t teach, they facilitate. The idea that kids didn’t need to be lectured to in order to learn was mind-blowing for me. Here’s the thing; it works.
My oldest was five when we moved back to the U.S. We took a look at the local school options and reviewed their syllabus’. They were going to be studying shapes. She was reading and doing proper maths. There was a glaring disconnect and I wasn’t certain what to do. Skipping a grade was not going to work, as emotionally she was very much a five year old. We decided after a lot of deliberation to try homeschooling.
I had found a science class nearby in the Bay Area called “Rockit Science”. It was absolutely amazing, but I found out I was the only person paying for my child to be there. Everyone else was with a charter school called “Ocean Grove”. I checked out this charter school, and discovered that the State of California budgets a certain amount of money per student. In Ocean Grove, I had the ability to decide how that budget was spent. Since I already pay taxes, this seemed like a no-brainer. I applied to Ocean Grove, was accepted, and our homeschool experience has enriched us in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. For starters, our ES (Educational Specialist) is amazing. He has a respectable number of teaching years behind him and is an unbelievable wealth of knowledge. He visits us in our home every 20 days to make certain my kids aren’t living in a closet somewhere and to answer any questions I have. It feels like there is a community behind me in my homeschool efforts. Sometimes that feeling alone is like gold.
Anyway, since I was already homeschooling my eldest, it seemed reasonable to me to do the same with my baby. I’m happy to report, she is doing very well homeschooling with Ocean Grove. Her learning style is completely different from my first born, but I can Tayler her lessons to suit her individual needs.
This wasn’t ment to be a review of Ocean Grove, but it may as well be. Having access to funds for my daughters education has made a huge difference in the quality of the education they have received. Additionally, having a Subject Matter Expert at my disposal, our ES, has provided me with a priceless resource. In the end, my daughters, and society in general, are reaping the benefits.