Looking For a Secular Florida Umbrella School?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Grice’s teacher, Miss Ruth, requested a meeting two weeks ago to discuss Grice’s educational achievements thus far. My stomach instantly knotted up.

I cleared all the hurdles I was anticipating:

Why did you choose to homeschool? Initially for continuity, we moved around for a few years; then because we lived on an island and it was easier; finally because we enjoyed it and were doing well with it. (I reluctantly left out the part about doing a better job than the schools and all my other rants. Miss Ruth said home education sounded like the best of both worlds.)

How is Grice feeling about school so far? She’s enjoying it. She attended public school last year in a school with about 35 kids, so she’s comfortable with the smaller surroundings. She thinks it’s a little easy, though. (Miss Ruth suspected as much and encouraged an open dialogue about it, which was a relief.)

Is there anything else I should know about her with regards to school? She tested for general giftedness this year and scored an average of about Grade 10 on a standardized basic skills test two years ago. She’s very shy and could use a bit of a push when it comes to participating, especially in sports, she’s very athletic. (Miss Ruth sensed my unease about appearing to brag and was very supportive. She also agreed to gently prod Grice into some of the upcoming events, one being the WestPac math competition. No doubt she was thinking of boosting the team scores, unfortunately Grice was out with the flu that week.)

And some I was not:

What type of books does she like to read? Non-fiction, though she enjoyed classic literature during read-alouds. She’s very perceptive, she knew the secret identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel the instant the character was introduced.

What are her strongest subjects? What subjects does she enjoy most? Math and science. She enjoys writing.

And we went on to have a great chat:

She explained that Grice was in the 5/6 class not based on her ability, but because the 6/7 class was at capacity. I told her about Grice’s spelling, how it was a challenge for me to get results but easy for her last teacher, and how it slipped again once we returned to homeschooling. This led to a comparison of British vs. American spelling. She assured me there would be no penalties for Grice on this account and thought it would make for an interesting lesson to the rest of class about cultural variations in English. Then we got on to comparing measurements. No problem there. Grice has learned both our standard and metric. Miss Ruth sadly relayed that grammar had been reduced to identifying parts of speech and some basic punctuation, not like in her day, but would expect more from Grice in this area, possibly in conjunction with more opportunities for writing.

I asked how Queensland Education works. Do they dictate curricula? (My choice of verbs most intentional.) I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had recently adopted an outcomes approach. Certain outcomes must be met by the end of the year but teachers are free to use whatever method works best with a particular child. As requested, I had brought along some of the work Grice had completed for me at home, which so far amounted to only her Saxon 8/7 math. I explained we had just begun this book and that it uses the spiral approach. Miss Ruth asked if she could keep it to review at home. I’m wondering if she’ll let Grice work on that in class if the outcomes match up.



English and SOSE (that mishmash of history, reading, social studies, civics, and environmental studies): D
Math: C
Japanese: A
Manual Arts: A


Miss Ruth: A+


Miss Kim (who has indicated Elle should probably be moved up a grade but is reluctant to do it now, past the half-way mark, preferring to let her settle in instead, and who has eagerly accepted my offer to volunteer in the classroom): B

No comments: