I cried when my daughter started Kindergarten. I loved having her around and worried what school would do to her spunky, free spirited nature! Our biggest complaint about school, so far, was that our daughter now came home with new words we never used (swearing) and some attitude. Other than that, things went fairly well until about first grade. Her teacher was the former resource teacher and someone thought it was a good idea to integrate all of the autistic kids into her classroom. This made things very chaotic and the atmosphere was that of staying with the lowest learner. My daughter often complained about being bored and things moving so slowly. Then, they put her next to a boy, who was from our neighborhood. He couldn’t read or write. He was bored because he didn’t understand and/or couldn’t do the work and so he would kick whomever he was sitting next to, the entire day! I was furious when I found out he was kicking my daughter all day! I demanded she be moved and the teacher wanted me to have compassion on the boy. Seriously?! Compassion is one thing, but hurting my daughter because he is bored or for any other reason, is another thing! The teacher said part of the problem was he didn’t get enough attention at home and his parents wouldn’t work with him on reading and there was only so much they could do at school. I got that. I knew the family and they went to our church. Their boys sat in the foyer using foul and crude language, all through the meeting and so when our girls acted up, we couldn’t take them there, because of this boy and his brothers.
So, she ended up moving my daughter to a different seat. She ended up being by a boy whom other parents, who had, had experience with him in past classrooms had their child moved to other classes. He began bullying my daughter. She even started to hate recess. I was devastated. I was bullied throughout school and I hoped my daughter wouldn’t have to experience this. I knew how things would go with the teacher. She had a very difficult class and was an overwhelmed new teacher. I had already had to have her moved away from the other problem boy in the class. So, I went to the principal. The principal told my daughter that if he is bugging her to come tell him and to never hesitate. It ended up being a good experience and he did watch out for her on the playground. It became very clear in talking to him that this was an ongoing, difficult problem for them to deal with. Unlike most bullies, this boy was the smallest boy in the class! His mother thought everyone was picking on her little boy; her angel would never be mean to another soul! I watched, one day, as she picked up her son and he wrapped his legs around her while she carried him out of the school talking baby talk to him. He had a look on his face that was like, “I can get away with anything I want!”
Computer Class Makes Her Sick
Then, in second grade, she had a great teacher and the classroom was much calmer and the bully wasn’t in her class and left her alone on the playground. However, the problems at school sent me looking into private schools and for a new solution. My daughter started asking me to homeschool her. I wanted her to go to school and make lots of friends and have a fun, “normal” childhood. I didn’t think I was capable of being a homeschool mom: not patient enough, not structured enough, not knowledgeable enough, etc.
My husband’s step-father was a school teacher and knowing him made me uneasy about many things that go on in the public school. He was a very abusive man who didn’t like children. He liked the power he could have over those who are smaller and helpless. Whose hands are we putting our children in for 8ish hours, 5 days a week?! That doesn’t give us, as a family, a lot of time to fill them up with the good things we want to instill in them. No wonder our country is so messed up. The values our children come away with are like “Lord of the Flies”; those who “rule”, those who survive and those who end up broken survivors.
The biggest problem was the computer teacher. My daughter was sick every Wednesday! I realized there was a pattern and started to question, what was different on Wednesdays, than the other days of the week? It was the computer class. So, I went into “Mom Detective Mode” to find out why. The class was held in a computer classroom that was accessed through the library. There was a very large window, so you could look in and the door was almost always open. Every student had their hand in the air needing help and there was only one teacher. No one could move on, especially if they couldn’t find or open the file they were supposed to be working on. If she didn’t get around to you, you couldn’t do the work. My poor little girl was on the back row. How often did she make it to her? Then, as the class was supposed to wind down (and the teacher hadn’t helped her), the yelling and threats began. She talked about not letting them go when the bell rings, how they would miss their buses and they would have to walk home alone. I was furious! No wonder she hates this class! I couldn’t sleep at night knowing this was going on. As I talked to other parents; no one knew the computer teacher wasn’t their regular teacher. Their regular teacher got a break during computer time. Every class wants parent helpers, right? My husband is a computer guru and is an amazing programmer. He was willing to volunteer to help out in her class once a week and so could I. The teacher was offended that we offered such a suggestion! She felt like we were saying she was a bad teacher and couldn’t do her job. How could she not see that she couldn’t get around in a timely manner to 30 kids in one hour?!
Parent teacher came around and my daughter was missing several assignments, but then there was one that she did amazing on. The problem was, my daughter wasn’t in class that day and hadn’t been for about a week. We were sitting in an airport that particular day waiting for a delayed flight, to come home from a vacation! When I tried to tell her it was impossible and my daughter wasn’t there that day. She tried to reassure me that it was because she takes roll everyday! When I explained we were sitting in an airport on that particular day, she was mad that I had caught her. I had heard of other people having problems with her not recording grades accurately and other issues; so I knew this was a common problem with her.
My daughter developed anxiety dealing with this teacher and class. No matter how much I reassured her that I would wait for her and never leave her to walk home alone; she was still stressed. Finally, she told me that she knew I would be there for her, but what about her classmates? What about the ones who ride the bus? What would her friends do? My sweet, compassionate girl was worried about others more than herself. She could see and feel their stress and it made her stomach and heart hurt.
I became that mom; the one that is annoying and causes trouble. I went to the principal believing that there would be a good outcome. He had been so helpful with the bully. However, this was not the case. He 100% defended the teacher and told me no one had EVER had a problem with her before. I knew that was not true. I had been talking and asking questions. No one wanted to confront the situation or if they did, nothing ever came of it.
My daughter’s best friend was painfully shy. One day her mother called me and asked questions about computer class. Again, she didn’t realize the regular teacher did not stay with the class during computer time. She had no idea what went on during computer time. What she did know is that her daughter was sick and complained about going to school every Wednesday. However, she wasn’t going to do anything about it because the teacher was her neighbor and went to her church and she didn’t want to make it more awkward than it already was. More of her reasons to not take actions were that the school year was almost over and they were moving and her daughter wouldn’t have her next year anyway. This is the problem. Everyone can find plenty of reasons to not take action and everyone suffers, especially the kids!
No One Else Will Stand Up
So, third grade comes and the class itself was okay and she had a pretty good, young, new teacher. However, the computer teacher never got better! We had a lot going on in our lives. Our second daughter started Kindergarten. She had the same teacher our older daughter had in Kindergarten and we really liked this teacher! As it turns out, the kindergarten teacher was my high school teacher’s roommate in college. (My favorite high school teacher!) We started the year with our younger daughter needing an ekg to check her heart. Then, she, our 5 year old experienced extreme anxiety. She would curl up into the fetal position under the piano and sob. She was afraid to go to school because there were so many kids and the hall was so crowded. Eventually, we discovered that it was her allergy medicine that was causing this reaction. She was on Xertec. I’ll have to write a post on that and what I have learned about it, someday. We immediately took her off that medication but the anxiety it triggered stayed. The anxiety was less, than when she took the medication and has come and gone in waves. Our little 5 year old continued to have other medical issues including doing a 24 hour heart monitor for about a week. Eventually, we ended up going to see a pediatric cardiologist and discovered that she did have a sinus arrhythmia, but she would outgrow it and it wasn’t a problem. She really didn’t have a heart problem. What she did have was a type of asthma. This gave her a croupy sounding cough every winter and affected her moods, but she didn’t wheeze like you think of someone with asthma. Then, we had a blissful month or so before she got sick again; ending up with a hospital stay in Feb.
I had to have another talk with the computer teacher after my 5 year old was hospitalized. I tried to explain to her that my older daughter was struggling because of everything going on with her sister. The computer teacher laid into me and told me I wasn’t the only one with problems and went into her messy divorce. I’m sorry, but your divorce is your business; what is happening in the life of one of your students, you should be aware of! It was extremely unprofessional! I continued to tell everyone about the problems with the computer teacher and to make sure parents understood that she is separate from their regular teacher and the problems we had experienced. I got a lot of support from people, too afraid to stand up. I began to hear from more and more moms who were upset about what was going on in the computer class. We were moving and they used that as an excuse to why I could be vocal about the situation. I found out later that this was the last year this computer teacher taught at this school, maybe I made a difference.
A New Change
I loved the new school we were moving to. They had a uniform policy and everyone loved the teachers and the principal. However, the principal changed over the summer and he changed the uniform policy. It was a pretty good year with normal struggles of the kids moving to a new school and place. I was pregnant with a difficult pregnancy and ended up on bed rest by November. I was unable to go to the school a lot. I always had difficult pregnancies and functioning was so hard. I needed my husband to help our older daughter more with her school and he did what he could but he was really busy with work. I was frustrated every time I made it to the school to talk to the teacher. I had some huge concerns about math. I believe getting down the multiplication table and understanding division are fundamental for continuing on with math and you need a good understanding of those basics. He blew me off every time; telling me the whole class was in her boat. At the end of the previous year she was doing really well with all of this and I expected that fourth grade would really solidify those basics and begin moving on to harder things. I hadn’t seen any multiplication or division problems or much of any math coming home. Evidently, the district had changed to something called Investigations Math. Horrible, horrible program! It was the pre-cursor to Common Core! I joined with others in fighting this program and trying to get it out of the schools. I quickly found out how little parents knew about what was going on in the classroom and what they were learning. But, I wasn’t able to do any of this until the next year when she was in 5th grade because of my pregnancy and complications during delivery.
5th grade for my oldest and 2nd grade for my second daughter. We loved the second grade teacher! He inspired the kids to want to learn and do more! He was fabulous. He also told us that with the Investigations program the kids did not learn how to carry, borrow, multiply or tell time; but they would in his class. He was a rebel teacher. Oh, and we got our second new principal. She was awful! We called her: Principal Dictator, Principal Hitler, etc. She didn’t want parents in the school and acted like she had come to a ghetto school that needed some serious overhaul and straightening out. She uninvited parents from assemblies and she wouldn’t let the kids walk through the halls unless they were going certain places. Each classroom has a door to the outside and that was the main way they were to go in and out of the classroom. My oldest daughter hurt her knee and had water on it. We really wanted to avoid surgery and help it to heal. She needed to stay off of it as much as possible. Her classroom was around the back of the school and somewhat difficult to get to. I talked to the teacher who said she could walk through the school to get to class, but when she tried the principal stopped her and made her go all the way around the building. This meant also going through the playground. I was so worried about someone running into her and knocking her to the ground and further injuring her knee as well as the distance. It was almost twice as short a walk to go through the building than it was to go around to where the door was located. I went and talked to the principal about my concerns with her walking around and tried to get permission for her to walk through the building and was denied. Of course, that didn’t fly with me! I walked my daughter to her classroom. through the halls. everyday until her knee was better and I picked her up everyday at the inside door and walked her out!
My girls both started to hate lunch time and recess because of the restrictions and monitoring placed on the students. So many things they couldn’t do and adults often getting after them. One of the lunch time rules had to do with how they sat at the tables. They had to sit straight forward with their feet directly under them. Another rule was that they could only talk in a twelve inch whisper during lunch time. What the heck is a 12 inch whisper?! This still makes my blood boil! My girls are well behaved and relatively respectful and obedient; so they weren’t testing boundaries. I called the school many times to try and talk and reason with the principal, my husband did the same and I called the district at least 4 times because of concerns dealing with the school. We didn’t really get anywhere but had an extreme amount of frustration.
My oldest, started to show signs of depression. We were working on the math basics at home and she was doing really well. I found out that when she used memorized multiplication, at school, when the teacher asked what 2 x 6 equals the teacher would tell her that 12 was the wrong answer. Then, she would come home and be told the opposite. The problem was the teacher wanted answers framed as you have two groups with 6 things in each group and so it equals 12. Her answer wasn’t wrong, obviously, but the teacher made her feel stupid and completely wrong. This teacher made everything into a competition and there was bullying if you gave the wrong answer. She was afraid to say anything in class because she didn’t want the teacher’s pet to call her stupid. Eventually, all of the inadequacy she felt over math leaked into her other subjects and she thought she couldn’t do anything right or well and was sinking into depression. It broke my heart and I had to do something.
My husband and I went in search of the right answer. We looked, again, at charter schools, private schools and reluctantly at homeschooling. We kept coming back to homeschooling. I didn’t want to do it! I had a four year old and a toddler, how could I possibly homeschool?! I would ruin my kids. I don’t have enough patience. I’m not structured enough! I’m not smart enough! I am really, REALLY bad at math! As much as we searched for something else, we always came back to homeschool.
We prayed a lot about what we should do. Was this really our answer? I decided I would research it and maybe do it, next year. Then my daughter would come home and cry and was so incredibly miserable. This was not her personality! She was always so bubbly and fun and now she was sullen and sad and frustrated. Something, had to change. I knew that if I left her in school she would never finish; not with the path I saw her on. Not with how much she already hated school and we hadn’t even gotten to the challenging years, yet.
I struggled the most with my lack of math skills. That was the thing that was holding me back the most. Then, I had an incredible, spiritual experience. Too personal to go into detail here. I was extremely worried about fractions. I never understood them and never did them very well; how could I teach them?! After this spiritual experience, I told my husband that I now understood fractions and how to add, subtract, multiply and divide with them. He tested me and was just as shocked that I could do fraction problems. The Lord had removed that obstacle. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to homeschool my oldest daughter.
Our Homeschool Journey Begins
I felt that we should begin immediately. It was intimidating, but I was more worried about what was happening to my daughter in public school than my short comings. We got all our ducks in a row. I quickly read two books and searched out other information on homeschooling and we set a date for removing her from school. Her last day at the school, her teacher told me she had never seen my daughter as happy as she was that day. It was another confirmation that we were doing the right thing!
I had learned about detoxing from the public school and knew that was really important. We joined a homeschool group in our area and went on field trips with them. We played a lot of word games like Scrabble, Upwords, and Boggle. We found other learning games and over the next few months my daughter opened up more and more. We began to see more of the bubbly, free spirited, happy girl we once knew. It broke my heart as she talked about things that had happened in class and how she felt. I wish we would have homeschooled sooner! I wish I never would have sent her to Kindergarten. I wish I had understood homeschooling when she was much younger and I wish I would have had more confidence in myself and my ability to teach my own child. Oh, the heartache that could have been avoided.
The next school year, we homeschooled all of our children. We had a 6th grader, 3rd grader, Kindergartener and a 1 year old. I found a great English book and we were working on how to use the words “may” and “can” properly. My little one was learning to talk and she picked up, “may”. It was so cute! It was a long time before we corrected her from saying, “May you get me a drink of water, please?” This baby always said please and thank you or no, thank you; at a very young age. People always commented on her being the most polite baby they had ever seen.
Where Homeschool Has Taken Us
My girls were able to pursue their talents in ways that would have been hard in public school. My oldest took art lessons and excelled in art and writing. She took a few classes here and there at the high school and did some concurrent classes. The concurrent classes were such a bad experience; mainly because of administration issues and the lack of maturity in her fellow concurrent highschool peers, she wasn’t sure she wanted to go to college. She was able to get a scholarship to college and graduated with her Associates of Art degree. She excelled in her classes, especially English and surprised herself when she had a fabulous math teacher that helped her to love math. She is now on the third draft of her first novel that she is writing. Our second daughter; excelled in gymnastics. Due to some health issues, she retired from gymnastics around 16 or 17 years old and took up dance. She chose to go to highschool, starting in 10th grade. She was a straight A student, but didn’t have all the credits needed to get a public school diploma. She went to a small college her first year of college and didn’t like it much and had horrible, catty room mates. Later, she transferred to BYU-I and had an amazing year, wonderful room mates and made life-long friends. She will be getting married soon.
My third daughter has been homeschooled from the start with a brief year at a Charter School for performing arts. She has excelled at playing the piano and even had lessons for 3 years with Scott Holden, a professional concert pianist and professor at BYU. She has just started college and is in the music program.
My youngest, is struggling. We have been so busy we haven’t been out making a lot of homeschool friends. Up until last year, she was excelling with gymnastics but her medical issues are really difficult and she had to retire. We have had a hard time trying to find something else that she wants to pursue. She is worried about being the only student in our homeschool. She kind of wants to go to public school for at least a few classes. I will probably let her or find a charter school for her to try. I worry about all the Common Core stuff that is now so prevalent. I also learned with my second daughter, the school puts a lot of pressure on them to try and graduate. New rules have made it so that every student who doesn’t graduate (full time student or not), counts against the schools and teachers and brings down their ratings.
I love homeschooling. I have seen fabulous benefits from doing homeschool. I know our family is closer because of this choice. I wish we would have started sooner.
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