We decided to homeschool for several different reasons that I will elaborate on in other posts. Each has its own set of influences. The first is the public school lack of individualized curriculum. It doesn’t matter whether your state is under Common Core or not, any state with a standardized test is practice a cookie cutter philosophy. Each stage of development had an age range. Children gain mastery in these stages at different times, some faster, some slower than others. How or to what speed a person learns is as diverse as their interest are. None of these were being addressed in the public school classroom.
Although I was teaching my own class of students with learning obstacles and already had to meet my students at whatever stage they were when they came to me, I was restricted by what the district said to teach because their goal was different than mine. While I wanted them to learn to read and then through reading learn whatever they wanted to learn, whatever their soul desired, the district was interested in scores.
At the same time, my daughter was GT (gifted and talented) tested in kindergarten in the 99th percentile. She was reading on a fourth grade level. Though she was labeled and had a GT, I saw teachers limit these students that were ready to move ahead. They were academically neglected and by the time she was in third grade, the gap in her reading level started closing in. She also dealt with bullying by a teacher. He was a painfully slow talker. And, even though we sometimes wait painstakingly for her to finish her thoughts, her and other quick-minded students would finish his sentences for him. Instead of teaching them manners and empathy, he targeted them. I was already a hands-on-mom and thought I knew what was going on in the class, years later I was still getting stories and tears.
When my son entered kinder, he was dealing with the left-over of some minor autistic markers. We had already denied further immunizations and began recovery in speech, behavior, and allergies caused by the immunizations. We had overwhelming success. The behaviors he was left with where what you might see in others labeled with ADHD. He had still not made any friends his own age. He still lacked empathy and had difficulty not smiling when being corrected, and he definitely had issues being still, but he was on the mend. I was thrilled with the progress, but knew that his teachers did not have the background to understand where we were coming from, what we left behind. I explained the situation to his teacher (also a friend) she said she understood and would do what was necessary to help him be successful. Very early on, he began missing out on class for things like pushing someone that cut in front of him in line, a very typical behavior for an egocentric age. It continued and he spent a lot of time being shuffled from classroom to classroom, instead of correcting and teaching inside the classroom. I just kept thinking to myself, “Where do I get to send him at home when he repeats the behavior. I can’t shuffle him around from house to house. Don’t give me the excuse that teaching has to continue, because at home, I still have other things to do, cleaning, parenting other children, serving my husband. At that age, a teacher is still attending to character development, so tend to it already!”
Sometimes, I found that it was because the teacher couldn’t handle him and her head-ache at the same time. I bit my tongue not telling how many times I suffered from migraines and not one of my wannabe gang bangers ever went to the office unless my hand was force. I kept my kids in my class, because I could not teach them the love of reading from any other place. I had students with problems too, but many times that is what cause the lack of attention to learning.
Meanwhile, my son struggled with the writing part of his homework (Really?). I modified it and spent most of our time reading with him. By the end of kinder he was reading on 2nd grade level. Within a couple of months of homeschool he is reading on 3rd. My strong belief is that wherever your kids are there they are. If they advance, don’t hold them back. If they struggle, don’t push them forward. To be honest, individualized teaching is the philosophy we heard in every college class and every workshop we teachers ever attended, but we were not being asked to teach that way when we got into the classroom. I was disillusioned, but wanted to be there for my students, so I stuck it out for 15 years. I loved my students and didn’t see many others that did. My students were targeted because of their race, their culture, and their socio-economic level. Year after year, I was asked by close colleagues to stay and continue my work with them, but once I saw my own children being affected by the broken system, and my health was beginning to suffer from the stress I was taking on, I had to leave. It was bitterseet. It was the right step and now my children can be on whatever level they’re at. My son still struggles with writing, and we move gradually with it. With reading, the sky is the limit. I will guide, he will lead.
You can read more about why we homeschool on Homeschool Forgiveness.