Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Loving To Learn Again- The Beginning of Our Homeschooling

My daughter was a public school student up until the fourth grade. There were times before that when we had problems with teachers, but it was her fourth grade year that finally made me realize that I needed to stand up for her more. That is the year I watched my usually sweet, happy child turn into a depressed and moody bundle of nerves. She would often come home from school crying and constantly talked about how stupid she was. Each time when I would try to find out what made her think these things, she would immediately clam up and retreat into herself.

Sis’s main problems in class were that she talked too much and fidgeted in her seat. As soon as the teacher hinted that this was a problem, I sent in information on little things she could try that might help, as well as a stress ball for my daughter to squeeze and sugar-free candy for rewards and treats (this teacher gave the kids sugar daily but expected them to sit still). In return, she suggested that I put Sis on medication for ADHD and seek counseling. I tried to nicely tell her not a snowball’s chance and thought things were going well until the night I went to the school for a parent-teacher conference.

When I walked into the classroom there was a lone desk sitting in the front facing back toward all the others. I couldn’t help but feel sad for the poor child who was being humiliated like that. Sad, that is, until I found out that the seat belonged to MY child. That’s when I became furious! Yes, because of things my daughter had trouble controlling, she was humiliated daily in front of her peers and I was informed that she was not allowed to join in group activities either. The teacher also encouraged the other students to make fun of Sis’s mild speech impediment in order to “encourage” her to do better in speech therapy.

As I said, I was furious and a part of me honestly wanted to physically hurt this woman. How dare she cause my daughter pain like this! What’s even worse is that Sis was so scared of what her teacher might do to her that she had endured this treatment for most of the year without telling me. My heart broke for her. The teacher made several lame excuses and then tried to call me a bad parent for Sis being the way she was. All I could do in response was inform the woman that she was very lucky I consider knocking her out to be unladylike!

Once I realized that the teacher wasn’t worth arguing with, I went to the principal who honestly turned out to be just as worthless and uncaring. So I wrote a letter to the superintendent of schools documenting exactly what was said and what I expected to be done, and I pulled my daughter out of public school without a single glance backwards.

Now, we had planned to start homeschooling the next school year anyway, so this was only an early start on our plans. Since starting homeschooling, I have been given back my sweet, happy child and she has honestly blossomed more than I could have hoped for. Her naturally outgoing personality has made her lots of friends at the weekly homeschool groups we hang out with, and she’s starting to recover from the damage done by her public school teacher.

Oh yes, there was damage that we are still trying to fix. Sis still worries about not doing well enough, she still thinks she’s stupid at times, and she constantly doubts her own abilities, but we’re working on it. I just remind her that she’s smart, funny, and doing a great job. I also don’t give her letter grades on her work because she felt like a failure any time she got something wrong. Now she does the work, if it’s not right we discuss it and learn how to fix it, and then we move on.

Homeschooling has had its ups and downs for both of us but it’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I never knew I could find so much joy in learning with my children, and being there to guide them in all ways. My daughter never knew learning and life could be so much fun! At home, Sis is always a great student and the “teacher’s” pet. Every day with her is an “A+” kind of day.