Homeschooling was a choice our family made long before we adopted. Philosophically speaking, I have grown into my intense annoyance with the public education system but it started early. The seed of doubt was planted during student teaching my senior year in college. That was the semester I hated the most. I was “mentored” by a teacher whose time had come and gone, who had decided having a student teacher would get her through the last few years until retirement. (At least, that is what I suspect from her behavior.)
As I slogged through my student teaching I noticed the bright students were often bored and the slower ones were marked as dumb. What’s more, there was no time to help either group. (A problem I know has grown since then–my whole family are teachers and are very angry with the system.) I knew if I stayed in this profession I would be perpetually frustrated but I kept at it in several different capacities for the next few years. Each experience confirming my belief there had to be a better way.
Why am I telling you this? Because, unlike my first inkling to homeschool, your reason to homeschool may be (and probably is) necessity. Maybe your child beat up the teacher. Maybe he can’t get along with other children because of his high levels of anxiety. Maybe you’re afraid he’ll never connect with you unless you spend more time with him. Whatever it is, you may have come to this point and even to this newsletter out of desperation. You may even be feeling like homeschooling is your only and last choice.
As New York’s teacher of the year, John Gatto says, “There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as finger prints.” I challenge you to change your paradigm. The history of public education isn’t a flattering one and all signs point to eventual failure. From the beginning there have been many examples of its shortcomings and you are more qualified than any teacher to teach your child.
Thomas Edison’s teacher begged his parents to pull him out of school. She said he was dumb, he would never succeed in life, probably never read. He was nine when she pronounced him a hopeless case. NINE!! By the age of twelve he was reading books most people in his town couldn’t even comprehend (and blowing up his mother’s basement–but that’s another story..) What if his parents had accepted that he was dumb? What if his mother had given up? You know what would have happened. History would have certainly been altered.
Most of the time the problem isn’t the teacher. Many teachers are kind, understanding, and highly competent. The problem lies in large class sizes, peers that are often cruel, and learning environments not conducive to learning for a child with anxiety issues. You can solve those problems as a parent. You can create an environment of learning in your home. Ironically, you don’t have to have a degree or even a stack of textbooks. Learning in it’s truest sense is an experience. What are some learning experiences you remember? Do you remember textbook passages? How about tests? Or do you remember the class where you were allowed to dress in costumes and act out the Battle of Waterloo?
My point is that you will certainly need to think about curriculum and learning styles if you are beginning a new year of homeschooling. Your state may even have requirements mandatingyou use textbooks. However, as the teacher, you have the freedom to create an inspiring environment of learning for your student. Inspired students want to learn. They don’t throw tantrums in the face of bug catching, examining cells under a microscope, and acting out history in costume. (We’re talking bath robes and sheets here, nothing fancy!)
So begin this year casting a vision for your child. Make your first month full of exploration and good books. Read about kids who were not great in the classroom but who went on to be great statesmen or inventors. (See True Stories of Great Americans for Young Americans.) History is full of such stories! Change the way you think about education and about your child’s hope or lack thereof. And don’t ever think you’re selling him short because he isn’t sitting in a public school classroom.
I’m not kidding when I say your defiant, attachment challenged, “learning disabled” child could be the next great inventor of our time. Just give him the space he needs to heal, cast a vision for his life. Embrace this school year as an opportunity to connect and inspire!
For more information about homeschooling attachment challenged kids visit Sandra at Blog Radio. Mom to three kids, two of whom were adopted from foster care. Author of the book, On Our Way to Normal: Our journey through foster care, adoption, and homeschooling our traumatized children. She is a Mentor to homeschooling families who have children with special emotional needs, learning issues or severe behaviors.Read about the book here by Tim and Sandra Nardoni.