... makes me proud!
I have been struggling with this post for some time now, and I think I'm finally able to write it. I don't want it to come off as bragging, but I hope you'll see my point as you continue to read.
A little over a year ago, I got some flack about our decision to let Clara try school. This person was a "reading specialist" who had diagnosed Clara with severe learning disabilities related to reading just from seeing her play in the alley and hearing me talk about she just doesn't read like Alex. I knew in my heart she was wrong, but the seed of doubt was planted.
Letting Clara try school last year was a HUGE decision for us. For us, our homeschooling philosophy was all about finding the curriculum/experiences that would help them thrive academically. I totally believe that homeschooling can provide the best education for a child, BUT... there are a ton of factors involved. Clara was never one who thrived at home with homeschooling. She's such a social creature and pined for the school experience. She also struggled with being in Alex's shadow. I had a hard time with this as well. Certain things came very easy to Alex and I floundered when they didn't come as easily for Clara. I was constantly searching for the right approach for her, constantly doubting myself. Well, it turns out that school (and our neighborhood school in particular) was the right approach for her. She was out of Alex's shadow and was evaluated on just being Clara. Without that pressure, she flourished. She also has some anxiety issues which we worked on the year prior to her starting school. I feared school was make them worse, but to my surprise, school actually made them almost non-existent. We found out that Clara gets scattered when she doesn't know what's happening, when there's not a regular routine. With school, she knows exactly what to expect each and every day... her anxiety is so much lower now than it's ever been. We thought maybe she was just "growing out of it", but we saw it come back a bit again this summer when we had no routine. She has also found a wonderful bunch of friends at school. She has her fun friends that she likes to play with, but she's also attached herself to two girls who are the top students in her grade. She plays with them as well, but she also looks to them as her academic inspiration. She challenges herself to keep pace with these two and the three of them have been promoted up together to the next level in math! She also seems to thrive with outside motivation as well... school offers up all kinds of "prizes" for accomplishing different things and Clara is bound and determined to win all she can! She recently got to go to a special pizza party for earning over a certain number of AR points (they earn AR points by reading books and taking comprehension quizzes). She also did all of her summer reading for the library's program in just two weeks, because her school had an ice cream party for those who completed it. She loves having something to work toward... it's her "currency" as my one friend calls it.
So, all of this brings me to the parent-teacher conference we had a few weeks ago. We were getting her ISAT scores and I was dreading it a little. The "reading specialist" had expressed concern (that's putting it nicely) that Clara would fail the ISAT in reading and have to go to summer school, missing her camp. Well, given that you would have to score under the 30th percentile in order to have to go to summer school, I was more than a little offended by this. But, I still didn't know just how she would score... I thought she would do okay. But I was still comparing her to Alex (which is so not fair, but I still struggle with that) and figured that she wouldn't do great. Well... I was wrong! She received "exceeds standards" across the board!! She scored in the 85th percentile for math, and my little "struggling reader" scored in the NINETY-SEVENTH percentile for reading!! She scored high enough to qualify to take the test for some of the selective enrollment elementary schools (that is, if she wanted to - which she doesn't - and we wanted to mess with the good thing we've got going on - which we don't). Her STAR Reading report also put her well above grade level. I found out that Clara truly isn't a struggling reader, she's just different than Alex. And you know what... that's okay... in fact, it's great!
I'm not saying that everything is always going to be perfect and that school is the definitive answer on Clara getting a good education. But right now, with these teachers, in this school, with these classmates... it's the perfect place for her to be!
(And with this... I'm done with the wordy posts and back to more photos!) :-)