This past week, our oldest daughter competed in a community spelling bee. It was exciting for me because I believe my daughter is an incredible speller for her age. But I am about as biased as you can be in making this judgment, so I wanted to see how she'd fair in a competition.
But, our daughter loves to spell, and more importantly she loves to read. She reads books well above her grade level unphazed by hard words in those books. Its just something that has come naturally to her. So, I thought it would be exciting to see how she'd fare.
Also, homeschooling puts you in a precarious position. You're basically making the stand that you can do better than any possible school option currently available in the community. And you want to get this decision right, as a parent, you want your kids to have the best opportunities possible, right?
Anyway, the spelling bee matched all the kids against each other no matter what their age or grade level. Each child, though, received a word at their grade level. During sudden death, they would increase the grade level for each child each round.
What I was surprised by, was how incredible these kids could spell, especially the first graders. Our daughter got tripped up by the first grade word, "stir". Which is pretty hard word. Nothing about the word gives you a clue on the spelling, why not "stur", "ster", etc. You basically have to know the word, and our daughter didn't.
But there were three other first graders, that literally breezed through every first grade word they came across. Then the lightening round came, (every child was allowed to stay in the competition until the lightening round - they were nice). Our daughter spelled a second grade word correctly - vase, phew.. But these three first graders breezed past their second grade words, no problem .
Then our daughter got the third grade word - "fulfill", and she tripped up on it. Again, a hard word. Why one "l" in the first syllable and two in the second? But again those three first graders breezed.
On to the fourth grade words, again no sweat. Then fifth grade, I think one of them got knocked out. The other two kept going. Then sixth.. I think finally, they missed the words.
One of the families sat at our table. I looked at them in amazement... They were nice and congratulated our daughter...
But then, yesterday, I brought our kids to bring your child to work day. And before the activities began, I had a stack of books that my kids were reading while I sat in a meeting. One of my colleagues not yet four year old, pre-school education son, asked to read the books, which I let him do.. And he read them without any trouble.
What's happening in our public schools? Are they suddenly kicking butt? Maybe we need to re-evaluate this whole homeschooling thing.