Well, I think to do this whole series of homeschooling posts any real justice, I should start at the beginning… our beginning. Grab some tea, this could take awhile……
Your kid turns 3, they start preschool. After two years of that, you send them to kindergarten. We don't question much of this, we just do it. I have nothing against the system, I have met incredible teachers, this is just our story… the road we've traveled. In the emotions and raw truth as it happened.
My oldest was an early reader, all on his own. He just read. His reading levels were far beyond his school peers. He did not like coloring. He had a hard time sharing. He liked to be the best at everything. Did I mention he all ready knew how to read. He was bored. Kindergarten sucked.
The teacher repeatedly explained to me that she could not teach to just my child, that he would have to learn to be patient. To wait. To sit. He was six years old, and I bought every word she said. "Be good" I told him, begged him. I trusted the system, heavily reprimanded my naughty school kid, continued to send his little sister to preschool all while not sleeping because my sweet baby girl was a very colicky baby. Man that was a rough year.
The following spring my husband deployed for 13 months. I packed my belongings into a storage unit, loaded the minivan with essentials and my mom & I, with three kids under the age of 7 and a dog, drove from Cape Cod to Valdez. That adventure is still my rockstar moment…. even over childbirth. We spent the year in Cordova with my parents. The absence of their dad turned my children's lives upside down and I must say educationally we were saved by Gayle BelGarde, the first grade teacher in Cordova. She adored my boy. He was a handful in class and yet she still loved him. We needed her in that moment of our lives. The daddy came home safe and sound. We moved to Sitka. Second Grade. Third school attended by our little guy.
This year both kids go off as kindergartner and 2nd grader. They both had fabulous teachers for the next two years. (another shout out to Sandra Fontaine & Ann Walter). Jade was a good kid. She did great in school, never got in trouble. Sam had teacher's that adored him, got him tested to have an IEP for gifted kids. He was an impulsive little boy, too big for his britches 😉 But his teachers worked with him on it. I volunteered about 6-10 hours a week between the two classes. My toddler girl became the mascot of both classes. Life was peachy.
Then fourth grade began for the eldest. For my boy he had a teacher that didn't know he had an IEP. He moved across the hallway in the same school he had attended for two years, and she knew nothing of his history. She was grumpy. She was getting ready to retire. She was constantly harshly reprimanding my boy for mediocre age appropriate stuff. Like saying the would fart. He missed a whale watching field trip and stayed in from recess for this kind of stuff. She did not seem to care for rambunctious 9 year old boys at all. She once kept all the boys in the class inside for recess to talk to to them about their conduct. It was an awful year. By the end of it I had decided to homeschool. At first, just for a year to try and rekindle the smoldered flames of the want to learn in my boy. He was crushed. He hated school. He distrusted teachers. My second grade girl, through no fault of her teacher, was getting lost in a sea of waiting while the poor teacher tried to resolve serious behavior issues in her class. The good teachers routinely end up with the most challenging kids, which means the good kids spend hours a day waiting to learn while the teachers attempt to keep things together. I know this first hand because I spent a lot of time in the classroom.
At the end of this year I realized an IEP (individualized education program) is a way for schools to get more funding. They routinely push for high and low achievers to get an IEP for this reason. What is offered to your child varies greatly by school, but I have heard time & time again that high achievers regularly receive no extra opportunities. Schools generally do not have the funding to offer enrichment programs to their students. It was this moment I realized that through their most earnest attempts to teach to the middle, they were essentially teaching to no one.
I felt beaten by the system, and hardened by the sober fact that I had blindly trusted people I did not know to teach my children for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to educate them and return them to me in the same or better condition as I had given them.
More on this tomorrow…..