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Sunday, September 14, 2014

To School, or Not to School? Our Wonderful Trip to Crazy Town

******This post was originally written in November of 2013 on my other blog*****

It's 3:07 p.m.  I have one nerve left, and it's ready to go on strike. Is it too early for a glass of wine? Sometimes homeschooling feels like a path to Crazy Town.

My son is such a great kid.  The thing is, he gives me a run for my money.  One may think it's because he asks me really tough questions.  Actually, that's not it.  I'm fine with saying "I don't know, let's look it up."  What's sometimes tiring is that he never stops talking, and, well, you know those books about highly sensitive kids?  He's one of those.  A wonderful, sweet, caring, smart, analytical, worried, obsessive one of those.  Also, he could easily be classified as ADHD, if we were to go that route.

Last year I attended numerous bitch sessions (otherwise known as IEP meetings) at my son's school, which fueled the decision to home school him this year.  Yes, we were aware that he did not want to sit "Criss-Cross Applesauce" or do 37 math worksheets each day, nor would he finish the unfinished worksheets around the kitchen table later on, unless we wanted to experience 2 hours of tears and scolding and stress each evening. Finally, no, we were not going to slap an ADHD label on him and drug him up so that he would be easier for everyone to manage.

Other fuel for the fire consisted of my two years of experience as a public school elementary teacher, where I discovered that most teachers feel like they are not given the trust to teach.  They pretty much have their hands tied as far as being able to teach creatively and effectively, and the kid/teacher ratio combined with student's unique personalities was a recipe for educational hell for any child with a strong will to learn at their own pace.

We were going to move anyway, so we decided that upon moving from MN to TX in the fall, there would be no more school hell for our son.  We would home school, and we would keep our eyes open for an alternative school that may be a good fit for our son.

I am still trying to figure out how I should approach homeschooling my son.  I have not purchased any curriculum, because I have a pretty solid grasp on what to do in order to teach the standards to a second grader.  I also don't want to be too "teachery" with him, because he closes up and reverts to rebellious behavior.  Why force information into his brain, when he isn't ready to put it there?  It likely won't stick. I'm caught between worrying about grade level learning and natural learning.

What I mean is:

Why is it that a kid turns 5 and suddenly we want to place all of these expectations on his or her shoulders and trade fun, natural, curiosity-fueled learning for rigid, programmed, pigeonholed learning?  What if he wants to read Curious George books and watch Stephen Hawking videos, and learn math when the subject comes up?  If he decides to be a rocket scientist, won't that desire be strong enough to take it upon himself to learn physics and calculus?

On the other hand........

We sometimes feel a little panicky.  We live in a society that seems to be enslaved to this force-feeding style of teaching.  What if our situation changes and requires us to put our son back into public school, and he is "behind" in math and still doesn't want to write a book recommendation?  Also, though I am ashamed to admit it, I hate the thought of friends and family quizzing him on whatever subject matter they think a 7-year-old should know about, and him answering, "Um.....".

For Now:

I am happy that my son is not crying everyday.  I am relieved that no longer asks, "So, we have to sit in school for years and years and then go to a job that we hate?  That's life??"  I am overjoyed that we can  go the library or museum or theatre or zoo as many times as we want to, and that we can talk about why leaves turn color and why seasons have distinct smells, and watch National Geographic documentaries at 10:00 a.m.  I love that he can go to the bathroom or drink water when he needs to.

I love that I get to be with my son, and that we can learn together.  For now, that's more than good enough.  :)

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