Many moons ago when I walked my first little laddie to his first day of kindergarten I fully expected that I would soon be getting a call from the gifted and talented program chairman asking for this little guy, who knew his letters numbers and shapes at 2, to be their poster child. Instead two weeks into school I got a call letting me know that #1 didn't stay in the classroom and that he didn't come in from recess and they wanted him to come in half an hour early each day for help with his letters and numbers. Thus began the challenge of trying to figure out exactly how to work a brilliant, multi dimensional learner into the public education system.
Educating our children has seen many approaches in our family. I've had all of my children in public education, all of them home schooled and part public/ part home based on my needs and the needs of my children. Each grade level, each decision has been approached with prayer and contemplation and the needs of each child in mind. Recently Adorable Hubby and I made the decision to pull #5 out of public school and work with him at home for a while. Each time I pull a child out of public school I groan inside. Could any process make you feel less intelligent and concerned for your child?
For those who haven't experienced this process here is a primer on what you'll be told and what I thought, but kept to myself, I realize this is a difficult process for a principal and teacher as well we all want children to succeed. I have also experienced this same set of questions before when we've transitioned a child out of school so I was prepared.
In a futile attempt to preempt the questions, I offered my experience and reasoning. The secretary had already warned him what I was there for so the atmosphere was similar to what I imagine the Dr. office feels like when a patient is told they have stage 5 liver cancer with like 37 minutes to live. I explained that I had children with similar learning patterns that I was an experienced home schooler and that #5 was exhibiting extreme anxiety, was not functioning at grade level and was expressing feelings of hostility towards other students. I also mentioned I wanted to coordinate with his teacher and keep him working on the same spelling words and math program, and that # 6 and # 4 would be staying in school.
Principal: Good morning Mrs. Boy Mom how can I help you?
Boy Mom: Oh I'm just here to offer myself as an example of 'Parents and their crazy, whimsical parenting philosophy.
Principal: Pulling your child out of school is a big decision have you thought this through?
Boy Mom: No, not really this morning I looked at my To Do list and thought, only 101 items I must have one or two more...hmm let's see... I know, I'll pull #5 out of school and teach him myself.
Principal: Will you or your husband be able to supervise his home schooling?
Boy Mom: No, we both work full time and spend our evenings prowling the mall looking for mannequins that remind us of people we know... Duh.
Principal: This is a really big challenge for parents are you sure he'll get enough one on one instruction?
Boy Mom: Hmm...If a school has 30 teachers and 500 students what is the ratio of students to teachers? Show your work.
Principal: I'm really concerned for each student I just want to be sure you've taken #5 needs into consideration?
Boy Mom: At some point as his watermelon head was being squeezed out of my body it occurred to me he might have a need or two. Sheesh what does this guy not get about extreme anxiety, not functioning at grade level and hostility towards others.
Principal: What curriculum will you be using to keep him at grade level?
Boy Mom: Uh, didn't I just mention, HE'S NOT AT GRADE LEVEL!
Principal: Maybe you could keep him in his literacy block so he'd be with his classmates.
Boy Mom: Sure since he wants to "Choke" his classmates for teasing him I think that'd be a brilliant idea.
Principal: How will you ensure he is properly socialized?
Boy Mom: Are you kidding? Here's another math problem for you? If seven boys have three friends each and those friends each eat two sandwiches and five cookies when they are hanging out at boy house three hours a day six days a week how many social skills will #5 develop?
Principal: I really feel that keeping him enrolled and having him repeat 2nd grade might be a better option.
Boy Mom: So have him finish out 6 months of 2nd grade this year then do it all again next year? The perfect answer to it's not working= more, it's not working.
Principal: It seems your mind is made up I think it would be a good idea to coordinate with his teacher.
Boy Mom: Sigh, at Principals school they must teach a course called How to make Parents feel they are incapable of intelligent educational choices.
So #5 began his homeschooling today. He's an amazing child and I'm looking forward to the closeness home school brings.