Friday, February 26, 2010

The Reason for the Journey

What if the public school system has failed your child?

We are taught as parents, and the kids are taught from infancy, that it's important to be the best. It's imperative to be the best. I don't like perfect kids because, well, there's no such thing. But, there are a lot of kids who either think they are or are pursuing that perfection. And/or they have parents insisting they pursue that perfection. (I am a reformed parent. When Kyndal didn't get "chosen" to be in the honor society in 7th grade, I was offended and upset! She never wanted to apply for it anyway and could care less. But, I was almost embarrassed that my self-perceived perfect child wasn't chosen ... more because of the way I thought it made me look, not her. And I can remember sitting at the 6th grade orientation and being asked only one question by more than one mother, "What honors classes did Kyndal get into?" My response was, "Oh, Kyndal is really in this school thing to get a husband." How dare them, really????!!!)

I like excellent kids. I like kids who take the gifts, and weaknesses, that God gave them and strive to use them to their fullest potential, and allow themselves to fail sometimes in the process. And, all the while, being happy and fulfulled with what they are doing, instead of always feeling like they need to do more!

I don't like a school that only cares about lifting up the perfect kids.

Kids are told to be in national honor societies and all honors classes and start playing the sport they plan to play professionally by the age of four. Kids are taught that nothing is as important as those things .. not family, not friends, not spiritual upbringing, not jobs. Kids and their parents fight to get them involved in those recognizable activities at the exclusion of all things.

But what if you don't have one of those kids? What if you are blessed to have a kid who actually doesn't want to pursue those things, but would rather spend time with their family and friends? What if your kid is brilliant and talented and has a huge heart and love for people, but doesn't get straight A's? What if your kid is failing in the public school system because he doesn't fit the required mold?

Well, you homeschool him.

I never thought I would hear myself say that I am a homeschooling mom. Technically, I guess I'm not yet because we aren't planning on homeschooling Dawson until next year. He will be in the 8th grade. Let's just say I never thought I would seriously be planning it, and ordering curriculum and getting excited!

But, I am.

It all started around the 3rd grade. Actually it started in the 2nd grade. Dawson had a teacher that was fabulous! She was tough as nails and had extremely high expectations. She didn't let Dawson get away with anything! Most parents requested that their kids not get her. Dawson loved her so much that he cried on the last day of school. He still talks about her to this day.

In the 3rd grade is when education shifts from caring about the child to caring about the state testing. Dawson has slipped further and further off the radar every year since then.

He's always been the class clown. I've always been told that I should have him tested for ADHD, which I refused to do. This is a kid that can sit for hours and do anything he wants to do. I was not going to medicate him for the school's sake.

Around the 4th grade I read an article about students, mostly boys, with a kind of learning disability where they were unable to understand how Points A, B, C and D had anything to do with the final destination. It said that parents of this kind of child would have to help them break down their lessons into bite-sized pieces until they were much older. It was then that I started taking an active role in Dawson's day-to-day school activities. At the elementary level, it's not hard to do. They have one, or just a few teachers if they do rotations, and those teachers are very vested in the 60 or so kids they have in their classes. Once they hit 6th grade in our city, all 8 schools combine into one 6th Grade Center school. And in Dawson's class there are around 700 kids. Can you say, "A small fish in a big pond?" And, thus, he was lost. And, thus, the teachers lose their vested interest in the kids.

I've tried to stay active. But, when you are e-mailing 7 teachers and a counselor, some who respond and some who don't, it's difficult. Or, by the time they get back to you it's too late and the problem has already occurred. Or, there are so many kids that they frankly just don't care anymore.

And that's where we are. The teachers don't know Dawson. They don't know his strengths and weaknesses and how he learns best and why he's talkative when he's feeling insecure. And, they don't care. They just want his hour to be over so they can move on to the next hour of kids they don't care about.

I've just been so frustrated I could cry, and have at times. I see my son failing and I can't get anyone to help me! And then on top of that he's worried about getting beat up at school, just because. (And I know that once they get into high school, that happens to kids every single day. And, it gets bloody. You almost have to be a corrections officer to be a teacher at that level. And we're a nice, upper middle class, well adjusted, primarily Christian city.)

He's stressed. I'm stressed. And he's not being given the opportunity to live up to his fullest potential.

I have to help him.

This year Dawson started begging me to homeschool him. In fact, he even said that's all he wants for his 14th birthday. If you were his mom, what would you do?

10 comments:

  1. Good for you!! Standing up for your child is what a parent is to do! I know this won't be an easy road but you are more than capable to complete this task set before you!! This is one reason we don't move to Owasso. We know that Collinsville might not be the GREATEST thing since sliced bread but it's definitely not the school where everyone has to fit into a certain mold and be in this honor class or do that particular sport the best. The teachers truly care here in C'ville. I can't wait to see your journey! Prayers going out for ya!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This post breaks my heart and makes me smile all at the same time. I am a teacher who becomes so attached to my students each year that I get teary eyed, but I am more importantly the mother to a 7 year old little boy. I can relate to your worries and often struggle with what is best for him: go with the flow so he fits in or not? Thank you for opening my eyes!
    I wish you and your son the best in homeschooling this August.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Homeschool. Absolutely. I love hearing how other families came to their decision to homeschool. Dawson is blessed to have such a wonderful family. :)

    *I'm hopping over from Jenn's @ A Country Girl's Ramblings... Nice to 'meet' you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am starting homeschooling this year for the first time also. We are in the same boat- public school has let us down. Good luck on your new adventure!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for this story, it was beautiful! You are a GREAT mom for doing this for Dawson.

    I am stopping by from the HOTM blog hop and I am VERY glad that I did!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! Your son sounds just like mine! This will be our first year homeschooling (5th grade) because I was sick of him being stuck under the radar. Can't wait to get started!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just found your blog yesterday and I love it! I love that you get your kids and know in your heart you have to do what's best for them.

    My son has ADHD and after 3 1/2 years we decided to medicate. For him, that was a good choice. But when he got to 4th grade, his teacher wanted him to take more and more medicine to be in her class.

    That is when we decided to home school (the following year). We took him our of ps, cut his meds by 1/2 and it was awesome. He is now a 9th grader and takes no meds!!

    My two younger daughters did not benefit from home school and do great in their public school classes.

    You are super organized and a role model for home schooling parents! I am following your American History plans and once I get all of my materials, will post with you on Saturdays!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great story. Our family has certainly followed a similar path but for different reasons. You are an awesome mom for paying attention to the individual needs of each child. Kudos to you! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have never read this story of your journey!! WOW is all I can say!!! You are an amazing momma!!!! Im so glad we have been able to "meet" here on the blogs!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your son is lucky to have a mother like you and I applaud your decision to home school him. I have a 15 year old that has ADHD inattentive so I can totally relate to your frustration with teachers and the school system. We went a different route and it has worked for us and Conner is doing well, loves high school but I know that isn't always the case. We have learned that grades are not as important for Conner as we thought. He is actually doing well but more importantly, he is learning and so it doesn't really matter what the test score is or the grade point average. My children are delightfully "average" just like me and my husband! If everyone what "above average" or perfect, who's left? Good luck.

    ReplyDelete

We all know that in this crazy world of homeschooling, we need all the (adult) support we can get. Please leave a comment if you so wish!