When my, now 10 year old, daughter was in Kindergarten, her teacher and I agreed all year that she would be held back to repeat the grade, that she was not ready to advance. One week before the end of school, the teacher called me in for a meeting to tell me she was, instead, advancing my daughter onto first grade and that if she had any trouble functioning at that level, the school could always put her back in Kindergarten. I suspected that wouldn’t happen. As it turned out, I ended up spending my daughter’s first grade, second grade, and third grade years requesting my daughter be held back, going into numerous school meetings in which several school staff members (from the principal, the teacher, the special education teacher, the school psychologist, and more) attended.
Every meeting ended the same–with the recommendation the school would continue to “monitor” my daughter. Mind you she was bringing home 50′s and 60′s at the end of second grade and started the third grade bringing home 20′s and 30′s on her class work! At that time, she was enrolled in a regular classroom and had not been diagnosed with any learning disabilities.
I had been telling the school teacher that I was actually giving my daughter the answers to her homework just to be able to get it done so she would not suffer the ramifications of incomplete work. I put it in writing on her actual homework assignments. My daughter was physically and mentally exhausted when she came home from school each day. Even though my daughter was a wonderfully behaved child, as well as empathetic, timid and shy, she would cry in the mornings when it was time to get her ready for school, on her way out the door and at night when it was time to sit down for hours worth of homework (even with my assistance). She was miserable. I was miserable seeing her that way. Learning was not a fun and enjoyable experience for her as it should be.
She did receive reading remediation at school and during her third grade year, she was even kept after school for an additional group remediation program for which the school received special funding. All along I kept saying “If she’s just allowed to be held back in a grade below, she’ll do just fine. She will be working at the level she needs to be. She will probably even be successful at earning A’s and B’s”. But, the school system just kept her at a level at which she kept struggling. She was being forced to sit in a classroom where information was foreign to her.
Finally, after my daughter’s third grade year there was just no way possible she could go into the fourth grade. I said enough was enough and after years of wishing we could home school my daughter, without having an ounce of idea how we were going to afford it, I researched the Virginia homeschooling laws, as well as, the suggested curriculum and topics to cover, turned in our Notice of Intent to Home School to our local jurisdiction and jumped in head first. I haven’t regretted it, since. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. There’s been a lot of work and research on my part but I enjoy knowing we are in control of her education. I know what she’s learning and how she’s learning it which is very empowering as a parent. But, best of all I’m able to find ways to make the learning process an enjoyable event for her. She now looks forward to filling her mind with relevant information and values it’s importance.
I have four children, two who went to public school and who are grown and living independently. My youngest son attends public school and is an advanced student. (The little booger’s mind is like a sponge and I’m often in awe and envy of his memory’s capacity.) My husband has four grown children. He homeschooled one of his sons and I am homeschooling my youngest child.
I can easily remember the day, years ago, when I was first introduced to the homeschooling concept. I had gone to visit the home of an attorney acquaintance of mine. His wife was showing me around their house and showed me their “homeschooling room” which looked to me as nothing more than an otherwise “playroom” equipped with nothing more than a desk and a chalkboard. It was barren and lacked the excitement one comes to expect from an educational setting. I was used to charts, graphs, maps and word lists on the walls. But, this room was quite barren. I didn’t even see a bookshelf with books. I immediately felt sorry for the children and wondered “Are these people serious?!”, “What in the world is ‘homeschooling’?” and “Geesh! These people are nuts if they think their kids can get an appropriate education by ‘homeschooling’ their kids themselves!” Even though I knew this mother had a college education and was a loving and doting mother, I was misguided in my judgment of something I knew nothing about.
Time and time again life has taught me a most valuable lesson, the one against my own judgment of others. Since that day so long ago, I’ve met other homeschooling parents, have been introduced to a growing number of private church schools using various homeschooling curriculums, and have learned the necessity and importance of taking charge of my own child’s education thus self-confidence and possible future happiness. As a lot of the homeschooling research suggests, parents are ultimately the ones responsible for their children’s education.
Homeschooling provides many benefits.
For our family it seemed there was no other choice but to home school our daughter. Sometimes, the lack of a choice forces us into a situation that turns out to be a true blessing. As United States citizens, we are inundated with choices, so much so that we sometimes can’t see the value in simplicity. However, at least in this one instance, simplicity seems to be the perfect medicine. See, as it turns out, my daughter has Attention Deficient Disorder, found out only due to my own initiation of the testing and not the school’s. Because she is a pleasant child without behavioral problems, she was looked over for urgency of the need for testing. We are currently having her tested for other possible learning disabilities which often accompany A.D.D. For now, because we home school, we’ve been able to avoid placing her on prescription medication which typically can cause side effects and which have also been scrutinized.
We divided the master bedroom into two halves, one side for her bedroom, the other for her classroom. I have an Early Childhood Education degree so I was able to utilize posters and materials from my old preschool teaching days and from when my older kids were growing up. We control the schedule and the curriculum and set it according to my daughter’s needs. Yet at the same time, with that ‘control’ I keep writing about, comes the heavy responsibility, as well. We are able to take breaks throughout her school day as she needs them, not according to the wall clock or schedule of 20 or so other students. She can go to the bathroom when she needs to go without asking permission from an adult who would have the option to say “No” or “Maybe later”. By being homeschooled she has the privilege of a one to one, teacher / student ratio.
We can work at a pace according to her ability (within reason). When giving her a test, I can watch her while she contemplates the answers and see where she may need more practice besides simply relying upon the answers written on the paper. We’ve been able to devise clever ways to keep her interest while learning facts. She can jump on the mini-trampoline while reciting her spelling words or multiplication tables. We’ve gone outside and allowed her to write her addition and subtraction problems in chalk on the sidewalk. We are able to have planned or impromptu field trips of all sorts which may lend themselves to some very interesting days. A simple trip to the store may turn into a day of learning about folk art at a local art gallery and small business.
Educating our daughter at home has allowed her to experience a freedom with her own learning experiences that she would not otherwise be afforded in a traditional classroom setting. I am most pleased with the ability to teach my daughter to embrace knowledge, to love the learning process and to expect to seek wonderment of the world. She’s never going to stop learning. It will never be over even when the classroom door is shut and locked and the lights are turned off or when she one day takes off her cap and gown. I can only hope that the most valuable lesson I teach her is the love and appreciation of learning which will follow her no matter where she goes and long after I am gone. I think it’s already working. After a dubious start to our first homeschooling year, whereby the first several months I doubted my own abilities and my daughter was suspicious of the whole homeschooling process, one day my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with pride, joy and adoration for my young daughter when she turned to me and said “Mommy, I like being homeschooled now because I finally feel smart”.
Written by: Tonya Meadows, Homeschooling Parent