23 May 2008

Transition to Homeschooling

Catherine asked if I had always been supportive of homeschooling and why I still send my older boys to public school. So here goes:

Before I sent my children to public school, I knew several people who were going to be homeschoolers. They were going to because, they said, they cared for their children more than that and why would you give up your child to the state for eight hours a day? I didn't realize what the homeschooling laws *were* here in Missouri and thought you had to really know what you're doing to teach children at home. Since I didn't have any education classes, of course that meant I didn't know what I was doing ...

And maybe, looking back, it was just me... but I felt as though there was a definite air that what was good enough for my child wasn't good enough for theirs. That they didn't want their child hanging out with the likes of mine. Now, of course, having had children in the school district for over 10 years, I know exactly where that attitude came from. That's because I've had plenty of opportunity to see how many of these children act at school and during "social events." Even extremely nice children from good families can sense when the rules aren't fully enforced and they can get away with bad behaviour, let's face it. At home, my children, while not the paragons of virtue all the time, have been taught to say "Yes, Ma'am," or "Yes, Sir," as appropriate. At school, they want you to say "OK" to the teacher, and they have trouble even getting that much acknowledgment from some students when they are addressed.

Let me insert here that even if somehow all public schools amazingly converted to Christianity in its most conservative form, ANY class of 20-odd children with only one teacher will have its problems, even in the best district. I've seen some great teachers do a wonderful job with what they have, but like one anonymous poster commented on my blog, I also don't feel that it outweighs the problems in the system, and in my opinion the ones that are there are hardly railing against some of the immoral curriculum standards.

I didn't want to homeschool, though. I HATE and absolutely detest doing homework with my children. They came home at 4 p.m. hungry and tired and usually possessing an armload of worksheets and papers that require my immediate attention. Evenings are spent screaming, reasoning, threatening to take away privileges, etc. Ugh. If that's what an hour and a half of "homeschooling" is like, why would I want to take on that job?? Those poor teachers, I'd think!

But after we started getting more and more problems with Elf, I literally couldn't go to the bathroom without my cell phone. I was at that school almost constantly. My other children and my housework duties, such as shopping across town, did not go away during this time. I felt awful and torn. Elf would beg to PLEASE take him out of that horrible place, and I wished I could. D wanted to give the school more chances to work out their bugs in how to deal with them, but I wanted him OUT and felt they had abused our child ENOUGH. So then we would start to fight. D realized that the school was not working in our best interests when they decided to slap an extremely bad label on him based on some fill-in-the-dot tests the teachers and I did with a number two pencil. They ignored three specialists' opinions that the reason for these behaviours was his AUTISM, including that of a prestigious children's hospital developmental department. The fill-in-the-dot test is a nationally NORMED test, and so they now had God on their side.

I finally had my husband on mine. The next day, we presented the school with a signed paper withdrawing him from all school rolls, effective immediately. Elf was bewildered as we told him to go get his stuff; he's staying home now and doesn't have to come back again. He did miss his friends for a bit, and I still see him looking wistfully at the playground. He'd like to go play with the other children, but it isn't worth what he'd have to go through during the other 7 1/2 hours to do it. On the whole, he enjoys homeschool immensely. He likes taking walks with his brother and our field trips.

So, why don't I homeschool Patrick and G? Well, the short answer is because D says we won't, but I don't want to just give that short answer without going into some of the reasons. Patrick is nearly 15 and will be an adult in three years. He would like to stay in public school. D and I have left the option open for him to come home if he demonstrates the desire and works out the curriculum with me. Hasn't happened yet.

G has some issues with his autism that I feel are reasonably well-addressed at public school. Once you get into middle grades, it's different from elementary. As well, his disability is pronounced enough to where the teachers don't feel he is manipulating them as they did with Elf. That may change, though, with his entrance into Junior High next year; we'll see. I do know that he accepts the routine at school better than at home for now.

Hope that answers your question, Catherine! I wrote a book for you!

1 comment:

Non-troll comments always welcome! :)