One of the scariest things for me about spending a few months in Puerto Rico was that the boys would have to start a new school with only three months left in the year.
In Puerto Rico, we were told, you pretty much have to send your kids to a private school, especially if they don’t speak fluent Spanish. I spent the last two months researching online, making un-returned phone calls to schools all over San Juan.
Private school. I grew up in the public schools and my Mom is a retired elementary school teacher. When I ran for office, I was and advocate of the teachers unions in the state. I’m all for public school all of the time. So this was a change for me.
Of the very few that we could afford, we had our first interview at an Episcopalian private school, a college prep school that was very strict about behavior and dress. At our interview, the principal (younger than me) kept reminding me that they were a college prep school and that the boys would have to test in to make sure they were up to snuff. I saw the test in advance and I’ll tell you that my boys were ahead of their curriculum with what they were learning in Penns Valley. Still, the principal only expressed doubt to me.
On recommendation of our friend Carlos, we walked right into the Palermo School and tried to enroll our kiddos–it’s a run by and Italian/Puerto Rican family who moved to the island 30 years ago. It’s very small and like a family. And the price is very reasonable.
Okay, so maybe you’re wondering how the boys feel about all of this? Well, they were very scared that they’d have to speak Spanish. They were very shy at first. But we left them there for an exam and when they were done they went right into their classrooms. When we picked them up, they were so happy and ready to start school immediately.
It is strange what you take for granted with the public school system. Like we had to pay for everything–books, uniforms, school supplies (at Penns Valley, we only have to have a back pack), after school sports, casual Friday ($1), enrollement fees, technology fees, etc.
Well we loved the school. We’d walk them the mile it took to get there and we’d pick them up in our car in the afternoon. We got one week of instruction in before the government/COVID-19 shut us down.
So here I am, the most reluctant homeschooler in the world (“I would never homeschool two boys. No way. Never. I wanna werrrrrk!)
I don’t really like it, honestly, in part, because in PR we’re not really allowed to leave the house. We do, of course. We walk to the store. We walk to the post office. We sneak to the beach at dusk when the cops seem to have gone home for the day. I’m very sure a healthy homeschool curriculum requires a shit ton of outdoor time.
But we’re making the most of it. One cool thing is that we don’t have any doors on our house. So we’re basically living in an indoor/ outdoor space. It’s also very large, so sometimes just walking to the sink or to the bathroom is a big walk. And we have one large open room where we conduct gym class–we play bad tennis, bad racquetball, and somewhat decent soccer.
Josh has been a very enthusiastic science teacher. He's decided to start with Earth Science. Roscoe pretty much makes up his own rules, starting every day by searching the grounds for lizards, frogs, and slugs. Unfortunately, none of the lizards on the property have their tale anymore, because he's caught so many.
Mad love and respect to all of the teachers out there, who are now transitioning to online curriculum. I’ll tell you what–I miss you!