Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our Journey To Homeschooling

I wrote quite a while back about how we began homeschooling. Shame on me for not continuing the story sooner.

3 weeks of school had gone by in Red's 3rd new school in 3 years. I had seen the classroom they had my son relegated to-a dingy 9 x 12 modular at the end of the school, with stained carpet, and sallow walls. Mrs. S. wanted to talk to me about Red's math. She felt he couldn't do 5th grade work. This is a child who could count handfuls of coins when he was 4 years old. This is a child who was once in the advanced math class. I couldn't understand it. "I thought the point of having small group instruction was so that Red would get more help." "I've got 2 6th graders doing 3rd grade math.", was Mrs. S's reply.

"And I want to leave my child here to learn?", I thought.

That was but one of the red flags that went up the first month of school. Red was coming home crying, miserable. I watched all sense of vitality draining from my child. The grand finale in this disastrous placement was going to Back To School night. For 30 minutes, my husband and I sat in the auditorium listening to the school principle extol the virtues of his school, referencing their shining PSSA scores.

Since I'd already met my son's special education teacher and seen his cell-I mean special ed classroom, I decided we'd go to the regular classroom, and meet the regular ed teacher. The teacher was very enthusiastic, going on about all the great things our kids would be learning this year in her classroom. While I listened, I scanned the room looking for my son's essay. All over the walls were essays the children had written to show off to the parents. I looked and looked, but could not find my son's. Finally I spotted it hidden behind a desk, hung so low on the wall, it was almost on the floor. When the teacher was done talking she greeted some of the parents individually. She chattered on with little Bobby's mom, and Susie's dad. Then I approached, extended my hand, and gave a warm smile. "Hi, we're Mr. & Mrs. K..., we're Red's parents." You would have thought I'd said, "Hi, our son's the leper in your class." The teacher cast her eyes down, her wrist went limp, and she hurriedly dismissed us to go talk with someone else. I had to grab back her attention to ask her about music lessons. I'd been wanting Red to learn guitar. "That's probably not a good idea, Red needs all the time he can get to work on his regular subjects. Guitar would be a distraction."

I had barely made it to the car as my eyes welled up. I felt like complete shit. I thought if one hour in this school made me feel like this, what was 6 hours a day doing to my 10 year old son! That is when I made the determination to get my son out of there, and teach him myself. I couldn't possibly do any worse.

Thank the Internet gods, that I came across some very helpful people who got the ball rolling for me. I actually enrolled Red in a public cyber-charter school. The first week was frentic. But little by little we made a lot of progress. I saw that spark come back to my child's eyes.

The next year, AJ joined us at home. Homeschooling proved to be quite a good formula for him as well.

Fast forward 5 years later, and I've got two happy, intelligent boys working to their fullest potential. They're not geniuses. I'm not into trying to prove anything to anyone else. What they are are independent free-thinkers. They're both talented musicians as well.