Yesterday we took on LETTER ONE–the issue of learning to Wait Before Speaking, a very tough skill for Sizzlers to learn. We’ve gotten some nice feedback from you on that one. (Thanks, by the way.)
Today, let’s hit a tougher one.
LETTER TWO –Should We Homeschool or Public School? I’m Afraid Either Way!
Here are key pieces of a letter from Carri–
. . .My son (with a severe case of ADHD and mildly autistic) will be in 6th grade this next fall and our schools here are terrible for middle and high school. I have always wanted to homeschool, even before our kids were born, but the challenges with my son were so over whelming that I just did not have the strength or courage to do it. I was scared. I am still scared.
. . .I fear that I will fail him if I send him to public school. I also feel I will fail him if I homeschool him.
. . .He’s also very small for his age. This is also a problem, and I fear it will become worse. . .
. . .I just don’t know what to do. I have no support in this decision. My husband trusts my judgment but is gone a lot for work, so the decision is mostly mine. I could really use some words of wisdom from someone who knows a little about what I am facing. A few encouraging words or some kind of answers to the millions of questions I have. I would really appreciate any help you have time to give.
And now for an answer. . .
I understand your hesitation. The task seems to have so many sides to it that it looks impossible. There are lots of “getting started” resources out there. But I sense that you’re still in the preliminary stages of deciding. So let me tell you what I think are some of the benefits of homeschooling kids like ours, as well as some of the very real benefits of having them in public school.
Public School Benefits
This option puts some of the burden on someone else. Not all of it, to be sure. We’re still the parents and we’re highly invested in our kids. But for several hours a day, someone else is responsible for seeing that he learns. This is a bigger deal than you might expect. When they comes home from school, we get to simply be mom, comforter, problem solver, tension reliever. We’re not the ones pushing them to accomplish all day. Let’s admit it, it’s a nicer role in some ways. And it takes off (or at least shares) some of the responsibility.
There are specialists on staff for bona fide learning disabilities that we may not have information about. It’s hard to know about everything. And there are many conditions that look like something else, because they share symptoms. So it may be useful to have another eye looking over the issues.
You’ve already paid for it. There are no additional dollars to spend to access the public school option. The funds have already been handily retrieved from your pocketbook via taxes by the IRS.
Now let’s talk about the homeschooling benefits.
Home School Benefits
Things don’t slip through the cracks. . .at least for not as long. You are right there. You see if he doesn’t get fractions the moment he doesn’t get them. And you can put in the extra time, or find the different approach that allows him to get it. There’s none of this lets just move forward with the rest of the class and hope you get it next year stuff.
He won’t hear his name called out in correction 10 times more often than the other students. Most ADHD kids will give the teachers more to correct them for. And most ADHD kids will soon realize that their name is heard far more frequently. It doesn’t take long for them to begin to think something is wrong with them.
They are no longer the smallest in their class. (This was an issue for my son too.) Okay, they might be the smallest one in your class, but siblings don’t count in this dynamic. It simply becomes a non-issue.
You can pick out your curriculum subject-by-subject. In other words, you don’t have to choose a curriculum that encompasses ALL subjects for one grade. If your child is stronger in say math and science, you can pick out a really cool, more advanced curriculum for those subjects. But if he is weaker in say writing and language skills, you can select curriculum that is more basic and hits fundamentals more soundly. This is EXACTLY what we did with my son. And while it created a bit more work for me to research the various options, the payoff was that my son learned he was actually really good in a couple of subjects. He’d had so many struggles in school that he really NEEDED to know he was good as something. . .several something as it turned out.
You can adjust lessons that rely too much on writing. Many public school programs (and frankly, many homeschool programs) incorporate much writing into their lessons. Your child may be very comfortable writing, but many ADHD kids struggle with this skill. There are so many ways to test, teach and review material. Writing is one way, but there are many others. And with these kids, other ways should often be used. Writing is often their weakest skill. And if you attempt to teach EVERY subject by using writing, you will force this child to proceed in every subject at the speed of their weakest skill. So while we do indeed teach writing in our own school, that’s about the only time I require writing. Otherwise, other options (oral responses, games, presentations, etc.,) are used instead.
You can insert physical activity into several points in the day. Our kids need to move. Let me say that a different way. Movement is HOW they process information. So if we ask them to sit perfectly still, they CAN’T process. So we must accept that they need to move. And then it is my opinion that we should provide the movement, so that we can make it something that works WITH the lesson, instead of distracting from it. We can do things at home that would be impossible in a traditional classroom with 20 other children. For what it’s worth, my first book, How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning, is full of ways to do this very thing: putting motion into learning.
They’ll never get bullied on the school bus. I read an article in the Christian Science Monitor on public school bullying. They shared a number that blew me away. How many kids in this country purposely miss the school bus each day to avoid bullying? Are you ready? 160,000 a day. I can’t even wrap my head around that. And THAT number only includes those kids who worked up enough courage to stay off the bus! How many more just went ahead, got on, and endured another round of spirit-crushing abuse? As a result, many public schooling families have to figure out how they’re going to respond to the bullying of their child. But just like issue of being the shortest, for homeschooling families, it becomes a non-issue.
You can share your world view of the things your child is learning. As a mom of two children who are now over 18 (and one still 12) I know that in the end, I don’t have control over their life decisions; I only have influence. But I have discovered that my influence is greater when I simply get to spend more time with them. The quality of quantity time is a powerful thing. And homeschooling definitely provides THATloads and loads of quantity time. I made sure that my kids were aware of other world views. I always wanted them to be able to interact with others and defend their own views. But I’m convinced that my influence has a greater chance of success (chance. . .not guarantee), particularly on issues of faith, so much so that I’m grateful that this perk came automatically with homeschooling long before I knew its worth.
I have such a close relationship with my kids, and I realized some time ago that if I had sent them off to public school, I would not now have the relationship that I do, and I wouldn’t even have known I was giving it up. I know that this doesn’t reflect everyone’s experience who homeschools. But I’m certain it wouldn’t have even been possible for me if my kids had been gone from me all day. I almost feel that I dodged a bullet in this one. My relationship with my kids is so precious to me, that I wince when I think it could have been otherwise.
Carri, please just know that if you want to do this, there are others, by the thousands, just like us, who are also doing it. And just because your husband won’t be involved in much of the teaching, his support of your decision is huge. I’m delighted that he’s open to this possibility. If you choose to go down this homeschooling route, it will be a lot of work. But you are not alone in this. (I’ve been doing it 17 years and I’m hardly a pioneer of the movement.) And while it IS hard work, it’s also one of the most efficient methods of education on the planet. Best wishes on pursuing the best for your son.
Carol Barnier &
Your friends at Sizzle Bop!