Monday, February 22, 2010

School troubles

I've been hesitant to write this post for some time now, but I think I have to get it out there.

My two oldest sons were in private school for Kindergarten. They both used the Abeka program & we loved it. They were reading by the fourth week of school! I was so impressed that I couldn't help telling everyone how great it was. When my second son graduated Kindergarten & was going into first grade I was no longer working & we couldn't afford private school any longer. So, we enrolled them in public school against my better judgment & that lasted all of three weeks. After that they were home schooled for three years. We all loved it! I really enjoyed the extra time I got to spend with them & I loved knowing that they were learning the things they needed to learn.

Two years ago they asked if they could attend public school again. I had always told them that if they chose to, I would let them give it a shot. My husband is a teacher & he was able to take them to the school he teaches at. The first year we had quite a wake-up call. My oldest was bored out of his mind. He kept coming home telling me that he hadn't learned anything new at all. Apparently, everything they were learning we had gone over the year before. Some, even the year before that. So, we worked with him to keep quiet in class (he likes to talk) & just do his work.

My second son was not adjusting well because he had a teacher who didn't think home schoolers actually did anything. Parent - Teacher conferences always involved her telling me how he must not be used to "structured environments". She was very surprised when he blew away all of the other students on the end of year tests. At the beginning of this year she ran up to us & told us how well he did. We told her once again that he hadn't learned anything new that year & we would have been surprised if he hadn't done well. She still didn't get it & proceeded to take credit for "turning him around".

My problem is not with their classes, although I'm not too thrilled with the level of education they are getting, but with my third son. He is in Kindergarten this year at the same school. I asked the teacher at the beginning of the year if they learned to read using phonics. Now we had been working on his letter sounds all summer & he was beginning to read already. She assured me that they always teach using phonics & wouldn't do it any other way.

Well, it's now the third quarter & he's barely reading because they are teaching sight words. I work with him all of the time on sounding out his words, but as soon as he gets to school he's taught to read by memorizing the words. This really bothers me. I've talked with his teacher, who assures me that they are learning phonics. She claims that the kids can't learn to read using phonics only because it's just too hard. I don't know when this type of teaching began, but when I was in school many, many years ago we learned to read using phonics. I'm pretty sure I handled it perfectly well & my two older sons learned to read this way, too. They both read very well & are easily able to sound out any words they don't know.

So, all of that said, I'm really just worried about my son. Is it too late to turn this around? Can he now learn to read correctly without trying to search his brain for the word he's memorized? Right now we are considering home schooling again, but I'm just wondering if anyone out there has any words of advice for me. If so, I would greatly appreciate it.



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