Last night was back-to-school night at our local school. My neighbor invited us to go and see the facility and her children's classrooms (grades 2, 4 and 6). Honestly, I had not the least desire to go, but somehow my excuse of Fritz's swimming lesson (his is at 5 pm) didn't matter much, and I ended up agreeing to bring the boys (but not Katie, my "I WANT to go to school" child) so they could see what they were missing.
The building is 5 years old, and very well done. When you walk into the center of the building, you can look out over a balcony to a nature pond below. There are cameras right inside the pond which are hooked up to computers inside the science lab which has a windowed wall overlooking said pond. Across from that is the two story glass enclosed "media center" aka library. The classrooms were warm and inviting and all had a computer center with several computers. It was really nice.
Still, though, I've not the least bit of regret that my children don't go there. And neither of my boys mentioned any desire to attend (and they're not ones to hold back on such disclosures).
I don't have a nature pond, but Fritz did bury a can in the ground yesterday, carefully propping a large rock over the top. He'll be checking his insect trap daily.
I don't have a media center, but I do have a large selection of books ranging from children's picture books to grown-up full color reference books. And our collection of classical music CDs grows every year. And we're within walking distance of a big library whose card catalog I can access from the comfort of my home.
I don't have a computer center, but I actually completely discourage the use of computers by my children. I'm trying to keep them in the dark ages. You know, like from 20 years ago when we had to use paper and pencil to communicate and books to learn stuff. Just call me old-fashioned.
As we walked to the different rooms, I noticed that the teachers had placed information packets on the desks. When the parents came through they collected the information from their child's desk. We were in the late crowd - in fact, they began locking the doors as we left the building. I was struck by how many desks still had the papers on them, meaning that the parents had not stopped by. By the time we got to the 6th grade classroom, our last stop, perhaps fewer than half the parents had visited the teacher and gotten her agenda and expectations for the school year.
My neighbor, a former homeschooler herself, would like us to reciprocate the open house adventure. My school room just needs a bit more work (I'm still a bit cluttered and disorganized), and then I'll be happy to oblige. My school isn't fancy, high-tech, or expensive. But we're happy with it. And I think we're producing a quality product.