My son has dilemmas about school. He generally likes to do his school work. He loves to read and can do so phenomenally. He can sound out some of the most difficult and lengthy of words – he amazes me. He also likes math as well, but only in mathematical notation. Word problems? That takes just a little but more work. He has Receptive/Expressive language disorder. I hate the word disorder myself, but I understand that they have to call it something. I just wish it didn’t sound so difficult to overcome.

Disorder

  •            a disruption of normal physical or mental functions; a disease or abnormal condition

I feel bad for him, because he genuinely gives everything his all and often comes up short or delayed. The teachers, special ed teachers and myself witness the wheels in his head turning as he stares up to the sky for an answer to await him as his tongue pushes against his cheek. It’s cute, admiring and sad at the same time. He had struggled with school all last year. The past couple years the teachers written him off as a child that didn’t need extra services or help, just passed his work, so they didn’t have to deal with it. I would ask them repeatedly if there were signs in his work that alarmed them and they always assured me that he was doing fine with minor difficulty. Now it’s finally caught up with him. This past year, his teacher saw a problem in his work and knew that he definitely needed help. She felt that it never should of been overlooked before and that it was time to get him back on an IEP. Unfortunately, the IEP started late in the year. At age 8, he still shouldn’t have this much difficulty. This is the fail of the teachers and staff, not my son. Now, he was hurting academically and socially.

He cried most nights hoping it was the weekend, wishing to not go to school, saying, “I try my best, but I just can’t. I can’t make my teacher happy”. He created lies of sickness to get out of going. I wanted to keep him most days, so I didn’t have to put him through this torture. My son gained anxiety and his education decreased. He was suddenly more focused on opinions and judgement from others. He never had problems with making friends, but he had problems with finding those who didn’t like him and called him stupid as well, unfortunately, he started to believe these words. It was almost like he would search for these kids and constantly return to them, not for the pain, but for their one day approval – he is definitely my child in that way. His anxiety fueled whenever the teacher asked him to re-do a paper, he feared the other children would know. What were they thinking of him? Why didn’t other kids get called up? He thought he was not smart and incompetent, and having to re-do his work proved it to him and his peers. He became depressed and angry. I pleaded to the teachers to fix this. During IEP meetings with school staff and phone calls with the teacher, they often re-assured me that everything was okay and he was fine while he was there. I wasn’t so sure of that…

I decided that I would look into homeschooling. So, I subscribed to this magazine strictly on the subject of homeschooling. I read an article about this woman who had an autistic son that she at one point home schooled and then after moving had to put him in public school. His moods completely changed. Her once happy child was feeling incompetent and sad. His grades were declining. The teacher was so friendly and communicative. The teacher re-assured her that everything was okay and that he had many friends. She trusted her teacher’s judgement until she came to field day…her son had absolutely no friends, not even one. He didn’t participate in events and nobody included or enforced him to. He sat by himself at lunch. He was completely isolated. The mother ran out of the classroom balling her eyes out. It was already at the end of the school year, he had suffered for so long and she never knew…The teacher explained that she never thought anything was wrong and she thought for sure that he had friends – the teacher she trusted.

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My son doesn’t exactly share this same experience or difficulties as the boy in the story does, but he does struggle with his own disorder of expressing to his peers which causes some social difficulties. The article makes it clear that it just goes to show that even the teachers you think got it under control will miss some very important cues.

I have had this to desire to home school for years, however it never seemed possible and I felt he was in good hands of the educational system – I fear that I may have been wrong. What actually fueled this thought was my love of TedTalks. I crossed this one video about “hackschooling” that I’ve admired for years. The speaker is a 13 year old boy by the name of Logan LaPlante. He spoke about how he is being home schooled and how his mother use to cry that her friends and family didn’t support the idea. However, he was glad that she continued it. He discusses how the school system teaches children that when you grow up you’re supposed to receive an education, get a job and have a family and then that is when you’ll be happy in life. However, he enlightens the viewers about how he is learning to be happy, healthy and educated now! He enlists eight elements to help reach this objective; exercise, diet & nutrition, time in nature, contribution & service, relationships, recreation, relaxation & stress management, and religious & spiritual. If I do home school my son, I will be choosing this way of teaching him.

I used to be a homeschooled kid until I was 14 years old. Well, technically, I was 13, because my last year into it was based on me taking my two older brothers to different parts of our house to avoid my parent’s daily fights. That time was so critical that my mom forged our work to make it seem like we did it, so she had something to show to the board of education. Needless to say, their divorce ended badly. My mom was our school teacher, and she left. Which forced my brother and I to go into public school.

When we were homeschooled, we didn’t quite realize how different we were. We just couldn’t understand why we couldn’t be like the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. Only thing I knew about public schooling was the image of the children getting off and on the yellow school buses. Our parents kept re-assuring us that we had the “luxury” of being taught at home. In a way, we truly did. Every morning, we would get up around 8:00, then watch 30 minutes of cartoons on the sofa, then had to read 1-2 chapter(s) of a book, then go into the designated room in the house as our classroom. Our classrooms moved constantly. We had it upstairs, then moved it to one side of the house to the other. One time, we had a RV parked next to the house and we used that, until it fell apart. After that, my dad re-modeled the kitchen, porch and put our classroom in our old kitchen. We had a chalkboard, desks and everything.

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Now it’s an utility room…the room has good and bad memories. I remember the luxury of wearing pajamas all day, learning the beauties of poetry & writing, and my dad taking us all to the local baseball field. Baseball is another story, but at times we focused on that more than our actual school work. I was damn good in baseball, but it didn’t take me much anywhere in life. These things didn’t prepare my brother and I for the real world.

Entering high school was one of the scariest thing I had ever had to endure. It mattered what you wore, it mattered how you spoke, how you walked and how you did pretty much anything. Judgement – I knew nothing about prior to the change. I couldn’t even figure out my locker and it truly gave me anxiety, because if you were late to class you could actually get in trouble. I never had this before – late? Trouble? It made me an angry person to be subjected to such change. The bus rides were also horrific. Witnessing so many fights & getting teased. Then, those long drives while my peers asked constantly “What’s wrong?” as I would cry and curl myself up in my seat. As if I could actually explain to them that my life had completely crumbled in front of me, not including the stress of home & my parent’s nasty divorce. Then, we had some teachers that were nice, and then there were some that shouldn’t be teachers at all. Teachers were having sexual relations with students, selling drugs outside of school to the students, and cussing students out in class. The luxury of being homeschooled was that I saw the world as sunshine and rainbows, but the truth was it was full of soot and grime.

The fear I have for my son being in public school is due to my own experiences. This is why I drive him to and from school every day. I want my son to be happy. I honestly want him out of public school. I want to be his teacher. The fears I do have of being a teacher stem from my mother. My mother, the teacher, who always looked frustrated and sad. I know she wasn’t happy in her marriage and with how her life turned out, but I used to blame homeschooling as an addition to her misery.

These are the things I worry about…will I be able to handle it? Is it much harder than I think? Will my son look at me as a teacher & an annoyance rather than his mother? Will I fail him? What if I can’t do it? What if my sitter at night decides she can’t watch him and I lose my job? Will he have to start over? Will it be even harder going back?

These are legit worries, but I’m also ambitious towards the idea. Besides, isn’t it the All-American dream to care for your own children at home and teach them yourself the ways of life? Although, I would have to work at nights in order to do this, I’ll have him during the most focused times of the day. I feel like I will get the proper school work and help through many sources and the community. I’m working on an outline for my plan in teaching. Of course, as I go into it, I’ll make the needed adjustments. I feel like it may do more good than it will hurt. My son and I have always had a great bond and I don’t see this hurting it, but strengthening it instead. I’ll be teaching him things that I don’t feel like he gets enough of at school as well, like home economics, respect, encouragement, etc. Going back to what Logan LaPlante said in his TedTalks, School prepares you for a job and career, but not how to have a life. This is my objective.

I am grateful to have experienced both aspects of schooling. It has given me great insight and knowledge. I can see what both teachings and environments are missing and what is needed to make successful. To make this a possibility would mean so many drastic moves with job changes, daycare changes, schools and timings of seeing his mommy. It is quite the adjustment, but hopefully a good one. I tried to explain very thoroughly to my son the positives and negatives about changing things. I explained that he wouldn’t see his friends, but he can engage with people by entering into sports, music or whatever he chooses. These will be kids that will enjoy what he likes along with him. His eyes widened, he was ready to start immediately. I asked if changing public schools was an option and he said either he wanted to stay at his current school or be homeschooled, so he knew what he was getting himself into. I was glad that he could comprehend what I was talking about. I don’t want my son to struggle with the pressures of his peers and making him do his work too fast to appease them. I want him to be relaxed, not pressured and at his own pace.

To make sure that he can honestly oblige with this change, I will be doing a test run. I wrote a plan and decided to give it a try very soon. We’ll see how it goes. I’m still working on the possibilities of this becoming a reality. Either way my main focus is giving my son what he really needs in life. I want him to focus on the happiness of being a child, and to not struggle with him knowing his worth.

 

 

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Written by J. Marie

Founder/Owner, Perfectly Imperfect Parents - Single Mom . Blogger . Photographer . Bar Marketing Manager and Bartender . Artist of Frame Design . Part-Time Student to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

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