Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why I do what I do

Someone posted on a forum that I participate in that they were looking for reasons to continue homeschooling and asked others to please list the reasons that they homeschooled.

Of course, there were many people who have homeschooled from day 1 who have a long list of reasons that schools themselves are evil. I don't think they are, but my son doesn't 'fit' at a school very well, and I love having the opportunity to be able to homeschool. If it doesn't work out, he can always go back, and we'll work around his issues as they arise.

There were also people who had a good list of reasons such as flexible scheduling, saving money, etc. Very, very valid reasons to homeschool were included in these lists, and I'd copy and paste them here if it wouldn't turn this post into a novelette as opposed to a short story.

Very few people mentioned the reasons that I am homeschooling M1. They are out there, I'm sure, but either they have homeschooled from the beginning and never ran into the same issues I have or they just aren't as vocal because they are aware that folks like us are in the minority. Then again, kids like M1 are in the minority, too.

I have mentioned some of these reasons before, so just smack me if I start repeating myself too often. However, without further adieu, I present to you my reasons for homeschooling:

1. I refuse to have my son labeled.
He is a very smart kid and learns quickly, but he has some issues. I could have kept him at the private school he was at, but even there, the teachers and administration were at their wits' end as to how to handle him. He gets disruptive when he's bored. By homeschooling, I'm able to move to the next subject as soon as he finishes one. He loves this. He doesn't do timed tests well at all because he spends so much time worrying about how much time is left that he forgets about the test. Every time I would go in to have a conference with the teacher, she'd tell me that he scored X on a reading test but she actually knew he was at Y level. She also would occasionally send me notes or e-mails asking what to do about a new tic or problem he had developed, like I should be able to tell her how to 'fix' it. Teachers do talk about students like these, and in time, he would have been labeled the special kid. If I had sent him to a public school, or even if I'd continued at the private one, I'd probably have had to set up an IEP, especially regarding handwriting which, by the end of his kindergarten year, was still completely illegible. By bringing him home, I can work with him. I don't need to time anything as long as I can see that he is progressing. I don't have to worry about his tics because they're not bothering anyone. If he knocks over an entire case of blocks, nobody is going to call him clumsy. This brings me to point #2.

2. I refuse to let him be bullied.

He's big for his age, so he often wants to play with the older kids, but they usually reject him after a day or two as 'too weird' and move on. When he plays with kids his age, he can have a hard time toning down the roughness factor and sometimes winds up hurting someone, which he hates doing but can't always control. The girls in his class picked on him because he wasn't able to control himself during class, usually making noises or banging things, which is something that will get better with age but not at the same rate as his peers. He internalizes a lot of things as part of his issues, not realizing that an adult might be able to help, and so I'd often never hear about these incidents until months after they happened. Now that he's home, he loves not having to worry about what anyone is going to do to him or say to him.

3. I refuse to make him spend an entire day in a chair.
He is wiggly. He NEEDS to be able to get up and move. Some educators would argue with me and say that he NEEDS to be able to learn to sit still and work for long periods of time, but that's not true. Sure, if he intends to go to college, he'll have to be able to sit through a lecture and take notes and work, but that's still about 12 years away, and then, for all I know, he'll be training for a job in a field where he can be out working 95% of the time! Not to mention the fact that he can plan classes with large breaks in between. He doesn't need to achieve perfect behavior at the first-grade level, or the second, or the third. He can't do it without going crazy, and I love that I don't have to make him. He rejected a project I had planned for him yesterday because it involved sitting still. Instead, he took the pharaoh's crown that we'd made last week, decorated it, cut out a false beard, taped it to his chin, and pretended to be pharaoh. Not a teacher in the public or private school world could let their entire class just make a project as they pleased, being up and running around while they do it.

4. I don't like medicating him.

Last year, I medicated him. I felt I had to because not only was he considered disruptive in a school setting, he would explode when he got home. I figured out at some point during the year that his explosions were all due to the release of anxiety. I took him off the medication at the end of June, just to see how things would go, and as long as I keep his stress and anxiety level low, he acts like any other very active 6-year-old boy. It's only when he gets worked up that things start to go awry. Timeouts are still a perfect solution for him, especially if I can send him outside where he has lots of space to run off the energy. He was given 'hidey holes' in his kindergarten classroom, but they were small, and he still had to be quiet so that he wasn't disturbing the students who were still working. That doesn't fly for him.

5. I do not believe schools can teach exactly to how my child learns.

My son is very hands-on/visual, as I think most boys tend to be. Teachers, especially as the kids get older, have a hard time tailoring learning to kinesthetic learners. Homeschooling lets me teach the way he learns and, if he isn't getting a concept, I can stop, back up, or change the teaching strategy as needed.
It's very nice to have this opportunity.

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