Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Fight for my First Baby (Why We Home School, Part 2)

Before I continue, let me give you a little more background about me. My parents are hard working, dedicated, fantastic, public school teachers. I attended public school for my entire primary and secondary education.  I then went on to attend a community college before moving on to a four year university.  I hold degrees in social work and elementary education.  Clearly I am not predisposed to dislike, disrespect or bow out of the public school system. 

We began home schooling the year that we also moved across the country and away from family.  My husband had lost his job after 9 years with the company because the business was failing. He spent months searching for a job in our home state without much luck when a phone interview led to a job in a city we'd fallen in love with a year before.  So, our family packed up and headed out west.  The plan was that I would work, at least part time, while the kids were in school or daycare.  That all changed when we found out that baby C was on the way.  There was no way we could afford childcare for three kids so I found myself a stay at home mama for the first time. This is important later when the tough choices had to be made.

I tell people that the year we chose to home school I had three kids enrolled in public school and I had three different reasons make that choice.  L was 12 and in 6th grade.  Middle school.  I was excited for him because he was getting a fresh start.  School had always been hard for him.  L is incredibly smart and loved learning.  He did NOT love being told what to do, specifically being given assignments.  From kindergarten we struggled to get him to complete his work both in class and at home.  When I say we I do really mean we because I was in there from the beginning working with the school.  To make a 7 year story shorter he would tell us, his parents, that he had no assignments while telling his teachers that he had done it but left it at home.  L would do anything for a laugh and it was always inappropriate.  He was impulsive and a distraction to the class.  Truthfully, he was board and was finding ways to entertain himself.  At the advice of the school we enrolled him in special social skills classes, had him tested for half a dozen different disorders and put him on several different medications.

As he got older his stories got more elaborate and harder to spot for the lies that they were.  This would continue until he had made a huge mess and he would get caught with a truly overwhelming amount of work to catch up on if he wanted to avoid serious consequences.  My deepest hope was that a fresh start in a new state would break this pattern but nothing changed at all.  I was horribly disappointed because the effects on our family were truly aweful.  Our whole family would suffer as we worked with him to get caught up.  We'd loose our evenings together, our weekends, time at work while we met with teachers and worst of all our peace.  We fought with L from the time he got up to get ready to school until he went to bed, usually much later than planned.  I spent all day while he was at school talking with his teachers and social workers about the work he should have had, the work he did have and the work he would be bringing home.  Then I had to hope and pray the work would get home.  The school told me that they couldn't help him get his stuff packed at the end of the day to ensure he had what he needed.  The consequences we could provide at home didn't really matter because he still spent the day with his friends and he never missed out on the fun things that he loved at school such as band, elective classes or recess.  The school simply didn't have the staff to support the consequences that would have been effective for L so this terrible cycle continued and there was no end in sight. 


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