I have been asked by some to explain how/why my husband and I came to the decision to homeschool our son. I’ve been wanting to start blogging again, and now this new chapter in our life will certainly provide many experiences and memories that we will want to document. So, this seemed as good a place as any to answer the questions about HSing (homeschooling).
B’s outgoing, talkative, interruptive and attention-needing personality has been the subject of many meetings, classroom observations and behavioral charts throughout kindergarten and 1st grade. We were well aware that B was disturbing and wasting his teachers’ and classmates’ time in kindergarten. However, where is the incentive in that to HIM to change his behavior? In 1st grade, he started costing himself, as well. Although he fell in the highest level reading class based on his ability, he could not be placed in the highest group due to his behavior – according to the school, he would not work successfully independently nor in groups. He was placed in a lower level group, where he was not challenged enough and became bored, therefore his behavior got worse. Unlike in kindergarten, B started to not like 1st grade. It was crushing to hear him say he “hated” school. B is bright and loves to learn; he loves being around other kids. Yet he hates school b/c he is bored and sitting in the hallway in timeout most days. And when he tries to make it better for others by putting so much energy into controlling himself at school, he is a wreck when he comes home – exhausted, crying, short-tempered. This is 1st grade, people! What would it be like in middle school?!
In November 2009, I attending a talk at my church by Kirk Martin called “How to Be a Calm Mom.” Most of us in the audience had “intense” children and were looking for some ideas to bring peace and order to our homes. We got insight into how and why our kids’ brains worked and how we can create calm in ourselves, our children and our homes. I started practicing Kirk’s ideas at home and we saw an immediate, positive difference in B.
Over Christmas break, we were visiting our friends K & C and the conversation between the wife, K, and me eventually steered toward how B was doing at school. I was beside myself with frustration and at a loss for a solution. I said, “My parents have offered to send B to private school. But I know no matter which school he goes to, we’re going to have the same problems! The only alternative to a school is HSing and I am NOT going to HS him!” She asked, “Why not?”
Me: B and I have the same personality. If we stayed home all day together we’d be at each other’s throats!
K: Haven’t you been taking a different approach (Kirk Martin) the past month and half? And haven’t things been completely different between you two – calm and harmonious?
Me: Yes. But I can’t reward his behavior at school by bringing him home and catering to him. He needs to learn to get along in this world without being the center of the universe and he needs socialization.
K: He’ll get plenty of socialization. So many people HS nowadays. I’ll bet you have a huge HSing community in your area and you’ll hook up with them. He’ll not only socialize with kids, but kids of all ages and other adults who will teach him things, too.
Me: But I don’t know everything he needs to learn. I’m not a teacher.
K: You ARE a teacher. You are a mom. You work 2 jobs outside of the home with kids from 3 months to 13 years old. You’ll learn along with him. And I’m a former teacher; I’ll help you.
K: You CAN do this. And you won’t have to do it alone.
The hubs and the kids came in just then and his and my eyes met. “What is it?” he asked. “We can HS B,” I said, with wonder in my voice. We just stared at each other for a bit, and in that space between us, every reason we had recited for over a year for NOT homeschooling B just flipped in our minds to become the reasons we SHOULD HS him. He said, “We CAN HS B.” C walked in behind the kids, looked at us and said, “What’s going on?” I said, “We’re going to HS B.” “Cool,” said C. “You’ll both be great at it!”
It was both exciting and scary to have made the decision. Part of me did not want to send him back to school after Christmas was over, but the other part of me had no idea what to do with him if we didn’t! I started spending all my spare time researching – online, checking out a ton of books form the library, learning the state’s and local district’s laws and reaching out to other HSers. I have a favorite HSing author, Linda Dobson. I found insight, empowerment and validation in her books. Through reading books, I have learned so much about why the American public school system was created, how it works, and how it fails so many children. I found a wonderful organization with a wealth of information and joined a local HSing group for ideas, playdates, field trips and support.
The school curriculum was created by people who have never met my son, and for left-brain learners with a particular personality that allows them to sit quietly for hours each day. My son happens to be a right-brainer and cannot sit still. He stands at home to do his homework but is not allowed to stand at his desk at school. He hums at school when he is bored or stressed to keep himself from interrupting the teacher, but it bothers people anyway and he is put in the hallway for it. Accommodations in the classroom will not be made for B unless he is diagnosed with something under the Americans with Disability Act. There is nothing wrong with him that falls under the ADA; he merely has a learning style and personality style that is different than what the school curriculum is made for. I do not expect the school to tailor its curriculum to B; but I can. And I will, at home.