Gas station without pumps

2011 August 22

School decisions part 2

Filed under: home school — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:28
Tags: , , , ,

The stressful weekend deciding between Pacific Collegiate School (PCS) and the public school he would otherwise be attending (SCHS) is over. (See School decisions for the dilemma.)  And the winner is …

None of the above.

PCS had two big wins:

  • a very friendly social climate where he already knew several students and
  • a Drama 2 class with a drama teacher he had not previously had, but classmates that he had performed with before and knew were good actors.

PCS had two big problems:

  • a very heavy homework load (particularly given his problems with writing) that would preclude extracurricular activities like science fair, theater, and robotics club and
  • a very rigid curriculum that did not provide much flexibility for him overcoming his writer’s block.

So, despite 4 years of entering the PCS lottery, we regretfully had to decline the offer of admission when we finally got it.  I think it would have been a great fit for him in 7th and 8th grade, but it doesn’t fit what he needs right now (and our neuropsychologist strongly recommended that he not attend PCS).

But in rejecting PCS, we also realized that another year at SCHS would be setting him up for the same problems as last year, and that we had to try something different.  He can’t continue to take just fun classes (Spanish, drama, science, video production, and PE last year), but needs to overcome his writing block.

We are still considering homeschooling through Alternative Family Education and a relatively new  private school, Monterey Coast Prep, whose mission statement sounds quite promising:

“Monterey Coast Preparatory empowers gifted and talented students, including those with learning differences, to achieve academic, social, and emotional success.”

We’ll be investigating both these possibilities in the next week.

One point—if we are going to homeschool, this is probably the best year to do it, as I’m on sabbatical, and so have a more flexible schedule for supervising or teaching.  Perhaps he and I will end up working through the Matter and Interactions book after all.

Incidentally, as I suspected but never said, the comparison I made between SCHS and PCS in computer science  (“SCHS offers none, PCS has one AP CS course. This is a clear plus for PCS.”) was bogus.  The AP CS course is so slow and Java syntax oriented, that it would drive him nuts—something he found out for himself by sitting in on one class.  He needs to learn Java sometime in the next 2 years, but he’d be better off either taking a Java-for-programmers course or learning it on his own.


  1. I had dinner with a couple last night with a couple whose child attends Monterey Coast Prep. They were pretty positive that their child who is bright, but challenging, had found a good fit. My brain is shutting down (11:50PM at night), but, since we did a hybrid homeschool last year, mostly I’d say, I think for homeschool to be a good choice, you have to do a better job than the teacher at the school who would otherwise be your child’s teacher, and you have to have the energy to keep it up! Also, you have to have a relationship with your child that lends towards a willingness to have you be their teacher, homework assigner, grader, giver of guidance, etc.

    Comment by Ron G. — 2011 August 22 @ 23:53 | Reply

  2. Hi,

    I am looking forward to reading more about your experience with homeschooling (if you choose it). I am considering it for my kids (who are still really young), and I would love to learn more about what it is like to actually do it.

    Comment by bretbenesh — 2011 August 23 @ 07:38 | Reply

  3. There was a mention in yesterday’s AoPS “math jam” for fall classes of plans for a Java class in the future. I don’t know if that would be a separate intro course, or a course for people who have already learned Python. Transcript at The Python teacher has mentioned that he has plans for a Data Structures class (in Python) in the spring. Data structures was the most useful programming class I took. I don’t know which planned class will happen first.

    They also mentioned that they hope the accreditation process will be complete by Fall 2012.

    Comment by Yves — 2011 August 23 @ 14:01 | Reply

    • The accreditation will come too late to do us much good, but we just decided to go with unaccredited home schooling, giving up the transcript in favor of an education that actually fits his rather idiosyncratic needs. Right now, the decision looks like a good one—check back in 9 months to see whether we’ve made a mess of it or not.

      The AoPS java course, when it comes, might be a good one, particularly if it comes as a second or third course after Python, as that is what we’re looking for, but few places offer a Java-after-Python course.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2011 August 23 @ 15:45 | Reply

  4. […] up on School decisions and School decisions part 2, where we had decided not to accept the opening at Pacific Collegiate School and not continue at […]

    Pingback by School decisions part 3 « Gas station without pumps — 2011 August 23 @ 15:36 | Reply

  5. […] School decisions part 2 ( […]

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    Pingback by Home schooling week 4 « Gas station without pumps — 2011 September 30 @ 19:11 | Reply

  9. […] school last year after entering the lottery for it 4 years running (see School decisions: part 1, part 2, part 3) and started home schooling instead.  The rigidity of the AP curriculum was not going to […]

    Pingback by Are AP classes worthwhile? « Gas station without pumps — 2012 October 20 @ 15:56 | Reply

  10. […] his writer’s block go worse over the years, leading eventually to our home schooling him (see School decisions, part 2).  We’ve been getting him weekly sessions with a writing therapist, trying to improve his […]

    Pingback by SAT today « Gas station without pumps — 2012 November 3 @ 22:18 | Reply

  11. […] limiting (for other reasons, see the first few posts in my home-school series: School decisions, School decisions part 2,  and School decisions part 3), the thought of having complete freedom to create his own program […]

    Pingback by Brown University tour | Gas station without pumps — 2013 September 10 @ 16:04 | Reply

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