Saturday, April 11, 2015
Taking Control of Our Children's Education
"I am sorry we just don't have any teachers willing to teach your son."
"We will have a hearing regarding your son's placement."
"When a school wants to get rid of a student, there are ways to do it."
"We don't believe he needs modifications or a 504." (comment made by a principal even after showing our diagnosis from a doctor)
All three of the horrible comments were made to us (by school officials) regarding our son and his education.
Two years ago we went down an unexpected path. Life felt as if it was unraveling at a rapid pace. Everything seemed out of control. I have mentioned many times that our oldest son deals with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety on a daily basis. These words and acronyms are highly misunderstood, often times in the public school setting. I think mainly because these are not "quiet" issues. My son's anxiety was not quietly crying in the corner or being nervous. His anxiety would come out as full rage and anger - unable to express himself properly, all while being completely misunderstood. As life seemed to be coming apart at the seams, my husband and I had to make major life decisions at a very fast rate.
After being told the school was trying to remove him to SLGC (an alternative school typically used for older children involved in gangs, drugs, fighting, etc) we made the decision to pull him from the second grade. That is right, he was going to be sent to a place that mainly deals with the above because this was going to be the "most helpful" with his struggles. No, the truth is this was the best thing for that principal and that school. Within about a 48 hour period I quit my ten years of teaching high school dance and began to home school our son. Our other two children were still in daycare at the time so we pulled them to save money. We went from a 10 year marriage of two incomes to one within a couple of days. It was at that moment that we had to hold onto God and just TRUST. At the time, I remember feeling so calm about the trusting part and like a crazy momma bear with everything else. I don't think I had the option not to trust. God was the only thing stable.
My intentions for this post are not to complain about public school but I felt I needed to give a little back story as to how we fell (literally) into homeschooling. We tried another public school the next year and the outcome was similar. However, at the second school the principal and counselor were working their tails off to help us but the teachers for his grade level would "not allow" him into their classrooms. My child was made out to be a monster. We also began to experience some pretty heavy bullying at the second school. There was a group of boys that would corner him in the bathroom. My son (then third grade) said they would do it in the bathroom because there weren't any security cameras around. His teacher did not believe him. I think she didn't believe him because he had made a target for himself as the "bad kid". Isn't that crazy, it still just blows my mind. By Thanksgiving of that year we pulled him again. When a child feels he is not good enough for school, that he is not allowed at school, the hurt runs deep…so, very deep.
My husband and I made the decision to home school our three kids and not to give public school another chance for the time being. We just couldn't put him through feeling as though he wasn't good enough for school a third time. I cannot tell you the difference we have seen. He has grown leaps and bounds. He still deals with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety on a daily basis. But when those moments come up he is home, he is safe, and he does not feel like an outcast. Our other two children would have been perfectly successful in the public school setting. However, they are also doing amazingly well at home. Homeschooling gives us the perfect opportunity to move ahead in areas of excellence and slow down in areas of struggle. It has given us more family time and taken the edge off life. It is a ton of work (on my part) but the growth and bond I have seen in my kiddos makes it all worth it.
I feel like God is using our crazy story to spread the word about homeschooling. It is my deepest desire for parents to feel like they have the right to take control of their child's education. There is nothing wrong with a traditional education when it is a good fit for the child. However, when it isn't the right match then other options should be looked at.
We often get the "socializing" concerns from others. So many people feel that home schoolers are not socialized. That could not be farther from the truth. We meet once a week at an amazing co-op. My kids have the opportunities to socialize with kids of all ages. Not to mention they socialize at church and during their extra-curricular activities. Plus there are so many opportunities for home schooled kids. The high schoolers even have dances, homecomings, sports, cheerleading, graduation ceremonies, lettermen jackets, the list goes on and on. Homeschooling has come a long way.
It is a God given desire of mine that parents understand they have control of their child's education and that education does not have to fit the traditional standards. God gave your children to you not to another parent. You are in control, not the school. You are the one that is to guide and raise up your child. If your children succeed in public school that is fantastic but those are not the parents I am talking to. I am wanting to reach the parent who goes to bed every night with their own anxiety, worries all day about the well being of their child, gets told by school officials that they "just can't teach their child. Please, please, please if that is you prayerfully consider other options and take control. You can do it!
One more thing, homeschooling is not just for kids that struggle in public school. Many homeschooling families pick this type of education from the get go. Home schooled children are happy, thriving kids, they just aren't taking what society considers the traditional path. :)
When it comes down to it, my kids are happy and they are learning and that is really all that matters.
If you are curious, God took care of us in more ways than one. Remember when I said we went from two incomes to one in a matter of days. We weren't sure if we would be able to afford our home, cars, etc. But God made it possible. He opened doors that allowed us to pay off our cars and stay in our home. We have a very tight budget every month but honestly we don't' miss the extra income. It is truly amazing that when you trust Him fully He will make all things possible. I believe it because I have witnessed it with my own eyes.