Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why Homeschooling?

When we told our families that we were going to start homeschooling Q, we had to answer the same question all homeschooling parents face - why? Some people were curious as to what lead to this decision. Some appeared more horrified than curious and some flat out said don't do it. Lucky for us no one asked us the dreaded socialization/socializing question. Although after doing internet research on homeschooling, I was prepared to answer that question as well.

The main reason is pretty simple. Q just wasn't doing well. She was doing alright, not flunking out of the first grade or anything, just kinda floating along. She was getting into a lot of trouble with her teachers for talking in class and not following directions. Not in an oppositional or defiant way just in a six year old's enthusiastic way. We kept having parent teacher conferences about her "behavior" but I really didn't know what I was supposed to do about it. I asked her why she kept talking in class and her response was "I can't help it-I have a lot to say." Which really is true. The girl can talk your ear off about anything. If she has an opinion, or a question, or a thought about something, anything, she will talk about it, and talk about, and talk about it. There have been times when I have actually begged her to please stop talking for a minute so I can hear myself think!

I kept repeating the mantra - she's six, she's six. What does this mean exactly? Well it means it's difficult for her to sit still for six hours, eight if you count her afterschool program. It's hard for her to sit next to her classmates and not talk to them. She has trouble remembering to raise her hand to answer a question or to use the bathroom. Wait a minute here. Are these really the expectations school is placing on a six year old?

Gone were the days before kindergarten when Q was really excited about school and would pretend play "real" school with her dolls and stuffed animals. By the middle of first grade she hated it there and it was a continual battle to get her there in the morning. Who could blame her really? When was the last time I sat still for six hours? How would I feel if I couldn't talk to my coworkers all day except at lunch? What if I had to ask my boss to use the bathroom or raise my hand and receive permission to speak in a meeting? What is her school training her for? Certainly not the job I have, or the one anyone else I know has. I am a children's mental health professional, why was I letting the school tell me that my child's behavior was unacceptable when I knew it was developmentally appropriate? Was it ok for Q to feel bad about herself because she couldn't follow the rules? Learning was becoming a chore she didn't want to do. Something just wasn't right with all this. We had already made the sacrifices necessary for me to stay home part time so M wouldn't have to go to daycare so we, ok I, decided Q wouldn't have to go to school anymore either. It took a really well planned out presentation and some convincing for Fred to agree to a trial period. But so far so good. I won't pretend everyday is wonderful. Some days we don't get anything done and Q and I can't stand each other. But most days we spend enjoying learning and experiencing life. Not waiting to go to the bathroom or not talking about things that excite us.

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