To Homeschool - OR - Not To Homeschool ...
Well, here we go again ... I have a great kid that is sometimes picked on by teachers and other kids because he has some "special needs". He does OK at school and making friends, but I want more for him than "No Child Left Behind" as a crutch the classrooms use to let him pass by. Unfortunately, he had to transfer him to a new middle school when we moved to a new community. I had no concern because it is in a decent area and just a few minutes from home. BOY was I wrong about this one. In less than two weeks, he was forced to protect himself during gym class and the teacher did not even know that there was a fight in his class. Plus, two different students offered my son drugs and cigarettes at school. Yes, all are pre-teens in the 6th grade ... My son said that he did not even know their names.
I thank God that he still reports these types of situations at home!
The irony is that I dare not make my son point out these kids and have the school both the teacher and the kids that fought him and offered him drugs. They will torture him for the rest of the year (trust me, I have years of experience in such matters). Meanwhile, now that my son is in 6th grade, no one makes sure that he is OK, though he is supposed to be somewhat protected by an IEP and ESE seclusion. I've had enough! At this point in life, I understand why Christian homeschool parents are so adamant about secluding their children ... it is not that they think they are better ... they do not want to hope that their children will rise above the influence. They are making sure that their children are not just getting throne to the wolves in a contradictory educational system and world. For example, if my son tells that he was bullied and fought back, he will get in trouble for not telling someone before he had action in it. Meanwhile, I have never heard of a fight stopping for a child to tell and then come back to deal with the situation as the school wants them to do. There have been numerous occasions when he has told me that he does not tell the teachers or counselors anything, anymore, because they do not do anything to make situations better. It just gets worse and he does not want to risk an even more of an uncomfortable situation.
Yes, I understand that kids experience these challenges on a daily basis ...
When my older son was in 6th grade, I chose to pull him out to homeschool. He had always been in very small, private, schools and was not transitioning well in his first year of public school (6th grade year). Aside of some emotional immaturity issues, there were some pretty nasty teachers that would not help him adjust in their classes and kids that tired to challenge him "the new kid". This really bummed me out because I moved our family to that community because the schools had upper percentile ranks and was surrounded by other excellent (upper percentile) school districts ...
My older son homeschooled for 6th grade. I subsided to pressure from family and friends, as well as his pleading to the same ... he went back to school the following year (7th grade) ... he made plenty of friends, but he never did fit in with the school and teachers. A lot went down hill after this year and he actually ended back in homeschool by 10th grade.
YOU CAN STILL CONTROL YOUR CHILD UP UNTIL A CERTAIN AGE (PRETEEN YEARS), AND THEN IT IS TOUCH AND GO ...BY HIGH SCHOOL ... PEER PRESSURE CAN CAPTURE THE BEST OF THEM!
My second son in now in 6th grade. It has been quite a challenging year and I assure you that even the best public schools in Tampa Bay do not compare to even the mid range school districts in Pittsburgh. Regardless, we had a decent Tampa elementary school experience for the second half of 5th grade (when we moved here) and a frustrating, though safe middle school for the 1st half of the year, BUT WE MOVED to a different part of town at Christmas time. It is a quiet area, but the school is rough. In fact, my son was in a fight during gym class and the teacher did not even know that it occurred in the class. On the other hand, other 6th graders were exposing him to drugs and cigarettes at school ... when he came home explaining how large the bags of drugs were, I pulled this second child out to protect him from what my older son fell into by the end of middle school. In this case, I am not letting anyone talk me into putting him back into a Tampa public school. Aside of these issues, there were always details where he needed more help at school, but the school was treating him like all of the other kids though his IEP and needs would warrant more help. Focusing is not a strength of his, therefore he developed some adaptive skills that were unnecessary if he had some help. For example, he would wear his gym clothes under his clothes (no matter how bulky) or carry them in his backpack if needed because it takes him more time to open a combination locker than the other kids. If he used the locker, then he would be late for class and was too embarrassed to ask for help. There are other examples, but you get the point.
Considering my experiences with pre-teens and teens over the past few years, hearing what other parents explain as their experiences and my obsession with national stats on the subject ... I think that our public educational system fails children after the elementary years; this applies to some private school systems, too. This is much more than the old China vs USA stats ... In a simpler effort, if you take a look at School Matter and start comparing the elementary, middle and grade school scores, you can see a little pattern of how the decrease occurs even in good school districts. Check throughout the nation and you will see some saddening results.
The United States would be better if they would restructure the educational system to better prepare children for the middle school transition. It would help to break middle and high schools up into smaller schools of 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th, 9th and 10th, 11th and 12th. all separate schools ... Additionally, what these school districts fail to understand is that sending a 6th grader to school with 8th graders is as ugly as sending a 9th grader to school with 12th graders. For the first 1/2 of 6th grade, my son would tell me how an 8th grade couple would "make out" between the boy and girl gym lockers. He thought it was funny and it made me remember what it was like in the Middle School (I transferred from private school to a public school in 8th grade) and not only were we with the 6th and 7th graders, we had a lot of space to roam in the school as well. We even rode the bus with the younger children and they flocked to us as if they were 8th graders too ... the reality is that they were NOT into what we were into, they just hung with us enough to get the exposure.
Most younger children are watching and aspiring to become one of the popular "upper class men" and, although 6th grade is only 2 years or 3 years apart from 8th or 9th grade, there are huge developmental and maturation gaps between the ages. This is the same for 9th and 12th graders. In addition to this, the busing systems, in certain counties and communities is just NUTS! Also, why do they put kindergarteners on the bus with 3rd and 4th graders? Why do they put middle schoolers on the bus with high schoolers? This is not the case in our school district, but I have researched certain areas and this is how some of their busing structures work ...
It is like setting the children up for peer pressure and academic failure.
Things are so bad right now that it makes no sense to put our kids "to the test" by keeping them in schools where teachers are not paying attention and are more focused on making sure they pass state testing then watching out for their flocks. Additionally, alcohol and drug usage, depression and peer pressure are obviously ignored and undetected. It is a constant battle for a "good kid" to stay clear of peer pressure and quietly abide by teachers who are pressure to get students to pass a test that will save their jobs ...
The virtual school programs are fantastic for those who are able to stay home or can hire someone to help their children do well at homeschooling. Although you can only shelter but so long and homeschool children need socialization, it is a heck of a lot better when you can help them avoid some of the negative experiences and surround them with children that are like them, and teachers that actually help when needed.
Do you believe in homeschooling or public school education? Share your experiences, opinion and / or tips for other parents that are considering homeschooling!
In Motherly Love,
Mother Baby Child