“You’re taking her out of school for a year so you can travel?”
No. I’m taking her out of school so we can travel. Even if the idea to travel hadn’t come up I had already begun looking for alternative school choices. People that know me don’t show as much shock as people that don’t. What’s even more amusing is people that I work with in the public school setting that don’t know my background (and credentials) are in education. When people find out I have my Masters in Education and my teaching license I get asked why I took a para position. After completing my student teaching I realized I wasn’t going to be great as a traditional educator, at least not in educating the way I wanted to. (I once had a co-worker say, “There’s more to you than that little desk you sit behind.”) I wanted to teach social studies but I couldn’t see myself teaching lies. (There have been a few instances where I’ve had to correct what was taught to my daughter and she went back to school and was reprimanded for questioning her teacher).
Before Jayla started school I made every activity with my daughter a learning opportunity. At the grocery store we named the colors of the food, we talked about texture (even if all she could do was listen, I was constantly talking to her). Every time we drove somewhere I pointed to the signs and explained them. Once she started school I felt I had to supplement her learning BUT not too much because she was already advanced past her peers and I feared she’d get in trouble for ‘being disruptive.’ A problem I often had when I was younger because I would finish my work too soon and start talking. Luckily, I had teachers that saw something in me and found ways to keep me engaged and challenged.
When I moved to Georgia I enrolled my daughter in Pre-K. I thought it would be good for her, she’d have some routine and a chance to socialize. She was already reading and doing basic math and I stupidly felt I needed to ease up on what I was teaching her so that she’d be able to learn with her peers and not be bored. That was my first learned from experience (that sounds better than ‘mistake’). I spoke with her teacher before school began I told her my concerns and also shared Jayla’s abilities. Since I was working from home I was able to visit the classroom often. Her teacher was great. We discussed different activities I could do with Jayla, mostly activities and lessons that weren’t on the curriculum, to ensure that she was learning with her peers and I was still doing things at home with her that wouldn’t interfere but she would talk about how smart another student was in her room like there was a competition. I had the feeling she didn’t really like my daughter just based off observations from when I sat in the class. That didn’t really bother me, she didn’t have to like her, she just had to treat her fairly.
Then came kindergarten. I could go on for pages and pages about her teachers. Her classroom teacher (Dr. Reese) and the assistant teacher (Mrs. West) were such a blessing. I spoke with them about my concerns at the open house and throughout the entire school year they always provided Jayla with challenging work. She exceeded the sight words needed and they just gave her more. When she completed a task they had a job for her to do in class. When it was computer time, instead of letting her start her work she would help her classmates log on and then she’d get to start, allowing her to complete her task at the same time. They genuinely cared about each student in their classroom. I never felt like they were there because they had to be. It was the best feeling in the world to have them become a part of our lives.
Then came 1st grade. My first experience with feeling the frustration many of the parents I work with feel. It wasn’t good but being in the position of advocating for parents I wasn’t about to be dismissed. After several months of back and forth and assessments my daughter was moved to 2nd grade. She was finally being challenged and the transition was smooth. The teacher…awesome! During that whole ordeal my daughter had started asking me if she could be home schooled. I went to work researching and looking at home school programs. However, she liked her 2nd grade class so much she asked if she could stay. Now, I am happily preparing her lessons for homeschooling as we travel and recently found a community of people online that refer to themselves as ‘Worldschoolers’ that do that exact same thing. They school their children while they travel and I am looking forward to reading about their experiences, gathering more information, and becoming a worldschooler myself.