Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homeschooling....what the?

When John and I had blissful carefree days of one child we went to Disneyland.  On the train a couple began telling us that we should one day homeschool our 2 year old daughter.  We politely listened as we kept our hands and all other objects inside the windows at all times.  We quickly made our safe escape when the airlock breaks sounded.  Homeschooling, I don't think so!

Years and 3 kids later we had 3 of the 4 safely in school.  For 2 children, it was a well designed plan.  They survived and they thrived.  But for our oldest son, not so much.  I can't blame it on the teacher.  He's always had great teachers with great schools.  But Cameron would not do the work.  Many educators would give Cameron up to 2 hours on a 15 minute assignment and he failed to even write his name on the paper.  I've had several teachers say that they didn't think Cameron knew the material until they quizzed him verbally he knew all the material. Cameron has never been a behavior problem at school, but the boy can look busy like no other!

Cameron would bring home his homework.  And the temper tantrums would begin.  4 hours later we might be done, with Cameron and I both in tears.  Torture!  This year Cameron's teacher would send home a portion of his unfinished school work along with homework for us to complete.  Impossible. Could I just roll myself in fire ants please?

We've seen many school counselors, principals, pediatricians, and IEP reports through the years.  I tried, the teachers tried, and Cameron tried.  After a period of little results I had a teacher tell me that it just didn't seem I cared.  Seriously?!  I suppose no results mean that the parent does not care.

This year we decided to take charge of his education without the teachers help.  I know they wanted to help to the best of their ability, but it was obvious that Cameron had been given everything in school and then some, and he was still suffering.  We saw another pediatrician who wanted more paperwork.  She also found a behavior therapist to evaluate Cameron for possible Aspergers.  The questionnaire filled out by myself and the teacher and myself showed ADD.  The therapist disagreed and so did I.  It's not that I don't want medication for my child to treat ADD, but I do not feel that is the problem.  And the therapist sees no signs of Aspergers, thank goodness.  The therapist has come to the conclusion Cameron has generalized Anxiety disorder.  My husband immediately agreed with the conclusion and after thinking, reading, and evaluating I do believe this is the issue.

As I have previously stated Cameron does not like to write.  If he has to erase a mistake he is instantly sent into a temper tantrum that makes all temper tantrums look tame.  He explains that why should he write anything because he'll just get it wrong and he'll have to start all over.  Recently Cameron misspelled a word and he became a tearful mess as he explained he will never be able to be a writer because he can't spell perfectly.  It's hard to write your name on a paper if you feel that this will prove you will be a failure in life.  A little anxiety anyone?

And anxiety is found in families.  Have you met my Dad, Mr. Anxiety?

A couple years ago my, dear homeschooling mama of 5, friend asked me, "When should I start encouraging you to homeschool?"   This thought kept echoing in my mind over and over again.  So, to make a long story short that is what John and I have decided is best for Cameron at this time in his life.  I can adjust schoolwork to allow for little pencil time and more computer time because he does much better on the computer.  With the help of his therapist we are working on coping skills that teachers  do not have the time to do.  Our goal is to get him back in school by the time he reaches high school.

My brother's ex-wife said it best, "There is no better advocate for a child's learning than a parent. It takes a village but there is no replacement for the true diligence of a conscious mother. Teachers know more but they don't always know better."  I admit Cameron's teachers do know more about educating.  My little brother asked me what my qualifications were and I said, "absolutely none!"  But the truth is that I can see my child is suffering.  I can give him the one on one attention that he needs to ease his anxiety and learn to work with it.

This has been long.  But this is actually the short version.  I am debating if I should make the personal trials of my son public.  I do so because there are times I think, "Now why didn't anyone ever tell me that?"  So, perhaps this may help some other mama wondering why her son can't sleep at night.  Or, I'll just delete this later, ha!


queenofphrump said...

I too laughed and thought less of people who home school. That was until my youngest daughter was faced with going to middle school as a 6th grader weighing in a a whopping 60lbs and testing a grade level below her chronological grade.

Someone once said, "Who is it that thinks they are qualified to teach without gaining a degree in teaching?" I did not think I was. I was not prepared to make the choice that I did. But, I did it to save my young girl from failing further. I had to step up to the plate and learn this along with her being just a step ahead from day to day.

Children learn differently and our Snoball had a mountain of challenges beyond her rare learning style. She is left handed, her hands are (were) tiny and lacked dexterity so writing was slow and often didn't allow her time to do her work without becoming frustrated to a boiling point. She has a point to which, if reached in frustration, nothing happens. Nothing. The day is over. How is a teacher of 30+ kids to deal with that? In a middle school environment she was going to fail. It was certain. My other girls are accelerated learners and Snoball is not. She is gregarious and teachers often didn't realize she was slipping through the cracks of mediocrity until the test scores proved she was not up to adequate levels.

We have used online curriculum to allow her the guidance of a staff who make sure we are up to par. We have support from them where needed. The online environment works for her. We have completed 3 years curriculum in 2 years time.

She suffers socially. We all know that. Through church activities and sleep overs with girls in our congregation, we have kept her up with some social development but next year when we send her to 8th grade in public school she will have some acclimating to do. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

At a time when kids turn away from their families and into their adolescent worlds, our child has turned back toward family and we have nurtured her learning better than 6 teachers could have.

I have said before that it is not my duty to help my child adjust to the middle school, it is my duty to raise a healthy, well educated child into womanhood with her virtues intact.

Katrine, this will work for Cameron because you are thinking about your child as an individual. Weather the criticism. Days won't always be easy but you will find that you can accomplish so much in the time you have when he is having a good day. I support you in this and give you all the encouragement I can. It is crucial to put this into it's place before it plagues his high school years too.

This will be a good thing.
(sorry my comment was as long as your post!)

Kira said...

I have nothing epic to say, but I want you to know we are praying for you, you are doing the right thing, and you are going to do a great job.

Lisa said...

Congratulations, I am so excited for you! I almost homeschooled Allen several years back and was actually looking forward to it. There is so much you can do with home schooling and I bet you will also have some adventurous field trips. I will be praying for a smooth transition and for creative ways to help Cameron's anxiety.
Lisa (Kim Garrett's friend)

Dan said...

Didn't I tell you that Cameron has generalized anxiety disorder? Well at least you've figured that out. Homeschooling will be the best for Cameron. We really want the best for Cameron and you...we don't want you to be rolling around in fire ants!

Katrine said...

Thanks everyone!

Karie said...

Yeah for Moms who care so much about their childen.....you are the best Katrine! So many great resourses here for homeschooling! You guys are going to do great!

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