Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thinking of kindergarten

I can not believe that next week is when our district starts tours of the elementary schools and open enrollment is in early January!!! I am desperately trying to go through a list of about 5 or 6 elementary schools and determine which of them I want to tour with Shaye. This is seriously going to be one of the hardest decisions that Caroline and I ever make. I mean, what if we pick the wrong school? I certainly don't want Shaye to get used to a school, the teachers, the children and then find out it's just not working and have to switch her. This is even worse than my preschool search.

Because she has been attending Montessori preschool and I absolutely, 100%, truly, without a shadow of a doubt believe in this method of education, I want her to continue Montessori through 8th grade. Shaye just turned 4 a few weeks ago and already is reading and writing and taking such an interest in both. Montessori is utterly amazing and it's a great fit for her. So, our first choice would be a tuition free charter Montessori school about a 1/2 mile from our house. They also have another campus a few miles away and that would be our 2nd choice. Beyond that, there are three "Open" schools all within 5 miles from our house. I also really love the idea of sending our children to one of these schools. Here is a brief description for those of you who aren't familiar with what an Open school is:

We are guided by a unified philosophy that provides a high quality, standards-based, and comprehensive elementary school education. This is called the Open Philosophy and is based, in part, on Piaget’s developmental learning theory, Dewey’s constructivist learning theory, Montessori’s use of manipulative materials, and Kohl’s thematic, integrated curriculum.

In Open classrooms, emphasis is placed on individuality and reaching each child’s potential. We have found that the best way to provide for this is through the following practices and themes:

Differentiation:

At its most basic, this term refers to the notion that all children should be recognized as unique beings with their own strengths and weaknesses. They ought not be taught as if they were all at the same ability level with the same interests.
We expect all students, no matter their starting points, to go further.
We use flexible learning groups to target students' needs, styles, and interests.
Experiential learning and constructivism:

We have long held true to the proverb, I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
We emphasize hands-on learning, the use of manipulative materials, and real life experiences.
Because we recognize that the environment is an extension of the classroom, we emphasize field education and community involvement as a critical part of real learning.
We know that real learning is discovery, even if it's guided, facilitated discovery, and we strive to communicate the sense of wonder inherent in learning new things.
Student-centered collaborative classrooms

We care for the whole child and are concerned with each child and are concerned with each child's physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development.
We velieve that even as academic standards are imbedded in the curriculum, the classroom and the curriculum ought also reflect our students' interests and that students should be given the power to explore their curiosity and imagination.
Student Empowerment:

As educators, one of our chief goals is to teach our students to take responsibility for their own learning; by doing so we seek to create a community of self learners.
We acknowledge that honoring student voice and student choice leads to the students' feelings of empowerment and ownership in their own learning.
We teach with high expectations and emphasize quality.
We teach and promote student reflection and self assessment.
We believe in cooperative participation in learning and in life.
We emphasize doing one's personal best, competing against oneself rather than against others, and working for intrinsic rather extrinsic rewards.

At our school we are committed to the idea that parents are an integral part of the learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom. Learning is best accomplished when teachers, parents, and students work as a team. Hand in hand, as part of the team making academic choices, setting goals, and evaluating progress, students become responsible lifelong learners.


There are also a couple of Fundamental schools I want to tour just to try and understand how they will differ from the Open schools and the Montessori school. If we just can't find a school that we like, we will more than likely keep her in her current school for kindy, but I really, really want to ditch the tuition payment so we can bump Naia up to 5 half days a week next year. Then of course with the next school year, Laela will be 3 (OMG!) and we will more than likely enroll her into our current school for 3 half days a week.

The pressure is giving me eye twitches. How on earth am I going to get through this and feel that we have made the right education choice for our children????????

1 comment:

Lolliemama said...

That is so, so hard. I am dreading it too, but I still have 2 years till I have to face it. We are keeping Ollie in for a full 3 year cycle since Lilah wont start preschool till 2010 anyway.

I am interested to hear how your tours go! I subbed for a class at O'Vale Open last month and talked to the principal for a while and I was really impressed. I think that school tops our list. As much as I love Montessori, I just keep hearing such disparaging things about CMP. I hope that you come back with a good review so that I can get my hopes up about it again!