Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back to School

Hello, Readers! Our September/October 2007 issue of New Moon, "The Great Debate" should have hit most of our subscribers' mailboxes and the news-stands by now, and I'm thrilled. This is one of my favorite issues that I've ever worked on -- I love to see girls take a stand, and I love to look at things from many different angles.

Although we talked about many debateable topics, we could only fit a handful in the magazine. One of the debates we didn't put in the magazine was a school debate. Almost all kids in the U.S. go to some type of school, but what kind of school is best . . . well, that's debateable! We asked girls to share their thoughts on school, and here's what some of you said about . . .


I'm homeschooled , and have been for 3 years. Each homeschooler has a different way of doing their school. I do a mixture of being taught by my parents, doing online courses and finding tutors and classes in my community. Here is a typical school day for me:

7 am- Wake up; have breakfast; prepare for the day; do any recordkeeping/planning that
needs to be done.

8 am- Start school.
In the morning, one of my parents usually teaches me a 'core subject'- math, language arts, science or social studies.

11 am- I then usually either do a different subject or have a class with a tutor or at the
local homeschool co-op. A co-op is where parents teach a class of homeschooled kids. These are useful because sometimes my parents don't know enough about a specialized subject to teach me, but another parent does. It's also a good way to meet other kids.

12 pm- Lunch time! Hooray!

1 pm- After lunch, I usually have another class with one of my parents.

3 pm- I do my homework for the day and prepare for any classes I might have the next

4 pm- In the late afternoon/early evening, I usually have music class, choir practice or a
gym class.

7 pm- After dinner, I write down all the things that I have done that day. In the state which
I live in, you are required to do a certain amount of hours per quarter for each subject. So I keep a record of everything I do. This also helps me to see how far I've come and what I need to do more of. And with that, school ends for the day!

I really like homeschooling because it lets me study things that interest me in more detail than I could in a traditional school. Because I take outside classes as well as learning by myself, I don't get lonely and my family doesn't get too tired of me. I enjoy learning by myself and from my parents. Homeschooling isn't for everyone, but it's the best way of doing school for me!
Lexi, 13

I have a great school experience. We home school, and my mom has been teaching me since fourth grade. I am really lucky to be able to home school. Home schooling allows us to go places, explore, and do fun things like making maple syrup. We live on an old farm in New England, so it is great for making syrup, doing backyard archeology, cross-country skiing and ice skating, swimming and learning about wildlife.

Home schooling also allows us to have a very flexible schedule. We can go to the library any time we want, I don’t have to get on a school bus at 7 o’clock in the morning, and I can go to a New England contra dance at night and I don’t have to worry about getting up really early the next morning.

I take fiddle lessons on Tuesdays. Home schooling also allows me to spend a lot of time with my fiddle, which is great.

Sometimes, we even take school on the road! Last April, we went to Washington, D.C. as part of our study of U.S. government, and the Antietam National Battlefield as part of our study of the U.S. Civil War. This summer, we went to Nova Scotia, where I attended a week-long camp to study Cape Breton fiddle and step dance.

But just like any other school, we have math, recess (thank goodness for that!), language arts, social studies and science. We are also learning to speak Spanish.

I love home schooling, and I think we are so lucky to be able to do this!
Gemini, 11

Private School

I go to a Jewish school, and have since I was five years old. I love my school, friends and teachers, but sometimes I feel like I've had enough of all this Jewish stuff! I'm really advanced in Hebrew, and my teachers don't teach things at my level. Some of the stuff teachers teach us I learned three years ago! In Jewish studies we have a fabulous teacher who is funny, nice and really makes us learn! I feel like she is one of the best teachers I have ever had. I really like our Jewish studies program this year.

Just like any other school, we also have math, science, social studies, history, geography, literature, writing and so on. Every grade after third goes on an overnight trip. In third you go to a working farm for a week where you get to hang out and do jobs around the farm. In fourth grade, you have a simulation of the gold rush where you pan for gold and try to live gold rush style! In fifth grade we go to the Marin Headlands. In sixth grade we go to Monterey and visit the aquarium and other cool places there. In seventh grade we go to Ashland,Oregon and see Shakespeare plays and meet the cast! In eighth grade we go to Washington, D.C! We are trying to have a trip to Israel but haven't gotten to that yet!

At my school, an average size class is about sixteen kids. We have two classes per grade, so there are about thirty-two kids in each grade. It's a Kindergarten-Eighth school, and I hang out with some kids who are way older then me. My brother is in eighth grade at the same school, and he only had twenty-four kids in his grade! My friends are great, and we hang out together during breaks and lunch-time. This year some of my friends are in the other class. It's not as fun without them, but we still have fun when we're together. Since we've all been with each other basically our whole lives, we're all friends with almost all the girls in the grade! At recess we all form a big group and just hang out together! We laugh so much sometimes teachers tell us to move away from the middle school area. All in all, I have to admit that I really like my school and wouldn't want to go to school anywhere else!

Shira, 10

I'm going into 5th grade at a Waldorf School. In public schools, everything went wrong for me. I was bullied all the time and everybody was noisy in the cafeteria. I was creative and they were strict, strict, strict. They didn't even let medaydream in class! At Waldorf I was welcome, and nobody has ever bullied me in my class. And in Waldorf there is art, handwork, woodworking, music, ...we even make our own books! Each day we spend over an hour outside- rain or shine. I love being with nature. There is a theme for each grade level. Last year the theme was Norse Myths andthis year it will be Ancient Egypt and Greece. Another cool thing aboutWaldorf? Your teacher stays with you from 1-8th grade! I am more like myself at Waldorf than I was in public school and we get to play games like "Elves and Pixies" and put on plays each year. School is exciting and I never get bored. Waldorf is the best educationI would recommend for a daydreaming, artistic girl.

Nani, 10

I'm in the seventh grade and I love my school!!! I love it mainly because of the fact that it is a private Montessori school. It goes from Pre-K to Eighth grade. The sixth, seventh and eighth grade classroom is called Questa. In the mornings we have personal work time (PW). During PW we can work on anything we want besides group work (GW). We have our own vocabulary books and we do one lesson (five activities) a week. We also have to write sentences that include at least one of our vocab. words each. We get tested regularly on our definitions both orally and written. You can also work on speech. This year in speech we are making a radio show that we will present at the end of the year. You can work on Personal World which is kind of helping you learn more about yourself. Finally, you can work on writing. The teacher gives you an assignment and you have to get it gone by Friday.

In GW, we get to work in groups. Everyone in the group gets to be leader of the group for one week. Eighth graders get priority, then seventh graders, and finally the sixth graders. My group has chosen me as the last leader so that if we are off target, I can get us back on target.

On Fridays we have check-off. This is where all of our assigned work for that week is checked. If it's not all completed you are considered off target. If you are off target you have to do your work during P.E. while everybody else gets to go outside and play. Also on Fridays is barn duty. If you are barn that week then on Friday you get to scoop the pigs' and goats' poop. We have two pigs and two goats. My friend and I are in charge of barn. This means we oversee how well barn duty is done. If it is done well, we sign their job cards, if it's not we make them go back and do it again.


Public School

I go to public school and I'm in seventh grade. School's ok--my favorite subjects are science and language.I like science because I love animals and science involves animals. I like language because I like to write stories and poems. Sometimes I wish I was homeschooled because sometimes I getpicked on by the other kids. But I keep reminding myself that the only reason they pick on me is because they wish they were unique. In school I have 2 friends and we make school fun.Well that's prettymuch all!!!


I'm a sixth grader in my town's public middle school. I've come up with 3 good reasons why I like public school.

1 Diversity- At public schools you will find all different types of people: boys, girls, Jews, Christians, and many other types of people. Some private schools for instance are only boys, or only girls, or only Jews, or only Christians. And if you're home schooled, you don't meet as many people.
2 Choices- Along with the required academics-Math, ELA, science, and social studies-we get so many other choices. We get choose a language-Spanish, French, or Chinese- whether we want to be in band, chorus, or general music, a club, and other things like sports, the school musical, Jazz band, an so many more. I think having choices lets you meet many people.
3 Lunch- This might sound weird, and not many kids would say it, but the food at my school is pretty good. I have a friend who used to go to private school and he said he had to bring his lunch everyday. Not only do we get to buy our lunch, we have so many choices of what we can buy. Some of the choices are pizza, pasta, the main meal, salad, and so many more.

As you can see I love going to pulic school

Samantha, 11

My school is a mix between public and private, because I go to a magnet school. Most people either haven't heard of one before or are not sure what it is. A magnet school is a public school that isfor gifted and talented kids. This means that my school isfree, but you have to take tests and be interviewed to get in. One of the reasons my school is great is because it has the positives of both public and private schools. At public schools, there is diversity because it is free. My grade has poor kids, rich kids, and middle-class kids. There are Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Atheists. Everyone comes from a different background and has different customs. But at most public schools, anyone can come, so not everyone is on the same level, which makes it harder for the teacher.

I'm not saying that everyone is a math whiz and a novelist at my school, though. Everyone learns at their own pace, but usually it's almost the same. We do math for kids a year ahead (for instance, 1st graders do 2nd grade math) and do lots of enrichment. (Like long-termprojects on whatever we want). One of the beautiful things about my school is that being smart is the norm. Unlike stupid stereo-types of "smart" kids on TV, we aren't nerds. We're artists, tennis players, actors, yoga-doers, soccerplayers, writers, singers, new moon readers, and much more.

Being smart also doesn't mean being preppy. We don't like homework,tests, or studying. What we do like is politics, law, Shakespeare, architecture, and debate. But we also like American Idol and Flag Football.

Being a magnet school means that we (the students) have to take state tests that are pretty easy for us and having to follow the curriculum (what the state mandates teachers teach). We also have large classes and never enough money. But it also means that we get high test scores and think outside of the box for ways to learn. (For instance, if a teacher has to teach Ancient Egypt, instead of textbooks she'll have the class mummify a chicken!)

Our school raises money for two or three teachers per classroom and gets grants from special programs. With the money, we have gotten laptops for the classrooms, a keyboard lab, and other things we otherwise couldn't afford. We are able to partner with organizations because we are a public school. We've had dance, drama, Shakespeare, and much more! I love my school because it is a happy balance between public and private. I'm very happy being able to go to a school with lots of different types of extremely smart kids. It's a nice environment and a great place for me!

Marisa, 11

I have been to a Montessori school, a private school, and a public school. In Montessori, I had a great teacher and many chances to go outside, which I loved. In private school, I had P.E., language {Chinese}, music, and art almost every day. Public school, my favorite, is really nice. It is more diverse, with a lot more girls in my class. I think going to three different schools was a good experience because I saw different teaching methods.
Kate, 10

What about YOU? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment!


margaret said...

I go to my local public high school. I have been going to public school since first grade, and I think that there are tons of advantages and disadvantages to all types of schooling. My school has nearly two thousand students and as a freshman that can be very overwhelming! You really have to stick with your friends in a school like mine because there are people that can steer you down a bad track. But as long as you're careful, there is so much that a public school has to offer. With so many students and teachers, there is sure to be a club that interests you, and if there isn't, you can find someone to start it. There are also tons of courses available once you become an upperclassmen (freshmen have less choices because requirements have to be fulfilled and there are prerequisites, but my school has lots of honors classes and AP courses in just about everything). We have an amazing art and music program as well. Once you become a senior, you can also do independent studies.

A lot of the time, I wish I could have some of the freedoms that come from going to a private school or being homeschooled, but I think that at least through high school, public school is the place for me. There's so much I'd miss if I left, especially all of the options I have musically. (We have several bands including three jazz bands and a marching band, a string and symphonic orchestra, two choruses...the list goes on and on!) And while there are some people to watch out for, I have so many great friends, because at a school with over fifteen hundred people, there are lots of options! All things considered, I really like my school.

Anonymous said...

What about unschooling????

piglet said...

I'm in 6th grade at my local public school. I definatly think public school is the best place for me. My parents don't have the time to home-school me. I went to Montessori school for preschool. I liked Montessori, but I think ours only went up to 4th grade. Also, their were only like 6 kids in the 3rd and 4th grade classes. It was really small for the older kids. I think if I had stayed there, I wouldn't have met very many people. I think that public school is surely the best place for me.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that it is good to have these comments about different schools online because Waldorf students are encouraged to avoid computers, t.v., radio, etc. and their schools have been left out of this online converstion.
I just switched to a public school and i hate it! I used to go to a private school, and I liked it so much better because they made an effort to welcome new students, whereas at my public school, few people have welcomed me there. I felt safer at my private school then at my public school.

margaret said...

There was a girl who goes to a Waldorf school, though!

Anonymous said...

I am a 7th grader who goes to a project based school witch is awsome because we still have our core classes (english, science, social studies, math and all of that stuff), but, for two hours every day, we have PWT (project workt time) where you get to work on any project on any subject of your chosing. For example people in my class did projects on palmistry, soccer, gelato, and much much more!!!!
My school has but high school AND middle school, so if you realy like it, you can stay till collage. My dad acctually helped found the school five years ago and sstill teaches there along with all of the original staff members and some new ones! We have about 100 students. It is nice not having a ton of kids at your school because i know a lot of kids in like 11th grade, and in all of the other grades, and theey all know me, too. You can join a play, spanish, AND a girl's group where you celabrate being a girl along with many other options. Our art progam rules! we call all of our teachers by their first names, witch adds a familliarity with them so you don't feel as shy about asking for help. You get tons of freedom. there are four homerooms in the school and two are for 6th,7th, and 8th graders. The other two are for 9th trough 11th graders. We go to band and ochestra at the public middle or, as the case may be, high school. Most of my best friends in the whole wide world go there and we have tons of fun eating lunch outside together every day. We have different themes for each quarter, and this one (the 1st) is the rennasance. We are going to the rennaisance festival in a week and the entire middle school is going. Alot of people call people who go there "stupid" or "retards", but we aren't! We are just normal kids who get to go to a school where we fit in better than we would at their school. In other words, my school is the perfect fit for me and I love going there almost (monday- Friday) every day.

Tigger said...

I am home-schooled/unschooled. I have just finished writing an article for New Moon magazine. I only do small amounts of things every day. Like math, English (copywork and dictation) and things like that.
My favorite subject is history.
I am 10 years old