The Skinny on School
Last week I attended a seminar at our drop-in about choosing a school (this stuff is all new to me, so I’m learning all I can and I’ll pass it along). We had parent council members from two of the local public schools and a member of the executive of a new alternative school that may be opening. Though this is still a couple of years away for Cakes, I’m keen to have a clear sense of what I want for her.
The parents from the school that serves our address spoke very highly of it and confirmed my belief it is the best choice for us. It’s nice and small (200), the students are diverse, they have a double gym and new playground equipment, a band, a good library, a science room, annual field trips and they take them to see plays (with a small subsidy from the parents). Folks speak very highly about the principal (I’m told the principal plays a big role in the direction of the school).
I also went to their open house and met some of the teachers. Overall, I’m impressed and relieved—this school is one block away (I can’t imagine having to drive the kids to an out-of-district school). At the open house, we ran into a few parents of kids that Cakes plays with now—I love the fact that the friends she’s making already may be the ones who see her through high school.
I also learned how important parent council is. I introduced myself to the chair of ours and am going to start sitting in on meetings already. It’s important to have a say in the direction the school takes--I’d like the International Languages program at our school, something that isn’t offered now.
The new alternative school opening in my area is also something to think about. The school would be public (I wouldn’t consider private school, even if it were an option) and derives its principles from Waldorf. A lot of aspects of the school appeal to me, but I’m not convinced about the Waldorf approach. Will these students be adequately prepared for high school? What are your thoughts on Waldorf?
One of my big questions is if they teach phonics. There are some younger students in my poetry class who obviously grew up in whole language classrooms. We often read out loud, and when they come to words they don’t recognize, they can’t sound them out. This boggles my mind. I say, give a kid the power to read on her own (instead of her vocabulary being limited to the words she’s memorized) and she will want to read. I sure did—I was reading stuff well beyond my years at a tender age.
What are your thoughts on phonics versus whole language? Any elementary school teachers reading?
Back to my original subject, for those with kids already in school, what type of school is it and how satisfied are you?
Labels: flotsam and jetsam