In honor of National School Choice Week I’ve decided to write about our choice…our decision to homeschool.
This is only the beginning… it’s a long one… so grab a strong drink and get comfy.
It all started when our oldest, Wabi Sabi Son, was in kindergarten. During parent-teacher conferences his teacher (an amazing teacher) would tell us he daydreamed… a lot. He was never disruptive. He just occasionally spaced out. At the end of the school year I asked that he be held back. I was told, “No, he’ll be bored if he has to repeat kindergarten. Let him go to first grade and we’ll see how he does.” I was frustrated, but I trusted that the teachers and principal knew what they were doing.
*In March, three months before summer break, we discussed all of this with his pediatrician at his yearly check-up. The doctor was wonderful. She took the time to listen to us and told us that we should keep an eye on his amount of daydreaming and school progress (or lack there-of.)*
Fast forward to first grade…
At the parent-teacher conferences we heard the same thing as the year before. We also discussed the fact that his grades (all but math) were falling, his reading wasn’t as good as it should be, and his handwriting was terrible. If I remember correctly, it was around this time that WSS had been given an IEP. (Basically, this is a plan specifically designed to help WSS with his progress. His goals are specific to his needs.) I liked the fact that WSS had an IEP but some of the goals still proved challenging. Again, we asked if we could hold him back. Again, we were told, “No, he’ll be bored if he has to repeat first grade. Let him go to second grade and we’ll see how he does.” Do you see the pattern? At this point I’m beyond annoyed. Pissed off to be exact.
At WSS’s yearly check-up we discussed all of this, again, with his pediatrician. She told us that sometimes boys mature a little later than girls. And that because he wasn’t being disruptive in class she knew it wasn’t ADHD. So, she would like us to monitor everything over the next year. If things were still the same we would discuss putting WSS on the lowest dose of ADD medication that would help him focus. I was ok with this because I was tired of WSS struggling in school. I so desperately wanted school to be fun for him. I was tired of hearing the same things from the teacher over and over. And, I was tired of the powers that be at the school not listening to me. Something had to give. (Wabi Sabi Daddy, was NOT on board with the medication idea.) Oh, and the pediatrician also confirmed that WSS has Dysgraphia. This is kind of a broad term that could mean a few different things. But, for now it means WSS has less-than-stellar handwriting for his age and there could be several reasons for this.
Fast forward to second grade.
WSS had a great teacher that he loved. And, again, we heard the same things…he daydreamed. His grades (except math) were not where they should be. Yada, yada, yada…you get the idea… We asked that WSS be held back…and they FINALLY say, “YES!”
WooHoo! I was SO excided. Well, as excited as you can be about your son being held back a grade. But, wait…I was STILL PISSED OFF that this didn’t happen in kindergarten! If they had held him back when I wanted them to (because this Wabi Sabi Mommy knows best) it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. I have to say WSS took it well. (We had prepared him for the retention by casually mentioning, on several occasions, that school would be easier if he repeated second grade again.) I should also mention that because he was STILL daydreaming, I scheduled another doctors visit. It was at that visit that we decided that WSS would be put on the lowest possible dose of an ADD medication to see if it would help him focus.
The pediatrician also told us to have the school evaluate WSS for a learning disability. After going back and forth between the school and the pediatrician several times to figure out who, exactly, was supposed to give the disability test; the doctor recommended that I put the request in writing to the school. Well, hot damn…that worked. Why the F*CK didn’t the school just tell me to do that in the first place! UGH! Because of the long list of students that needed to be evaluated, and the fact that there was only one evaluator, WSS had to wait until the first week of summer break to be evaluated. This was fine because he attended summer camp at the school. When we got the results of the evaluation it wasn’t surprising. His math scores were fantastic. As for reading…well, those scores weren’t so fantastic. WSS had a reading comprehension disability. FINALLY…it was all starting to make sense. He daydreamed because he couldn’t comprehend what he was reading…and when he was supposed to follow along when someone else was reading he would zone out because the pace was too fast for him. WSS was given a 504 plan. (Basically, a learning plan for students with a disability.)
Fast forward to second grade…again…
The powers that be at the school actually listened to me when I had asked that WSS be placed in a class with a male teacher. I had requested this because I wanted to see if the dynamic between WSS and a male teacher would be different. He was always really lovey-dovey with all of his female teachers. I thought by having a male teacher it would help him to focus better…along with the help of the medication, of course. WSS LOVED his male teacher. But, his reading and writing were still suffering. WSS was sent to an alternate class for two periods a day. He loved those teachers almost as much as his main teacher. He had more one-on-one time to help with his reading. And, he also loved that he could use an Ipad while in class.
(It was during this year that I had started to entertain the thought of homeschooling. I’ll write more about that in Part 2.)
There were a lot of IEP meetings. IEP meetings are usually every six weeks. However, because of WSS’s struggles, the meetings were more like every 4 weeks. Unfortunately, I was the only one that was able to attend the meetings. (I had FMLA specifically for meetings and doctor appointments for WSS.) The meetings were at the school, in a small room with: me, one of the vice principals, the teachers, the counselor, the reading coach, and the not-so-nice district representative. Most of the time the meetings were productive. However, sometimes I felt like nothing I said was taken into consideration. The last meeting I attended was the last straw…I went to the car and cried my eyes out. I couldn’t subject WSS to that SH*T anymore. It was that moment that I decided that, no matter the consequences, I was going to homeschool my kids.
To Be Continued…
Wabi Sabi Mommy Knows Best