by Leila Dayne
I’ve received another guest post from my friend CC, keeping us updated on her new journey into homeschooling :] Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!
Take it away CC!!
First of all, I’d like to apologize for the longer than expected hiatus from my guest blog. Between juggling my altered work schedule, daily house maintenance, lesson planning, and researching, it’s been tough to get into the new routine of writing regularly. I feel pulled in so many directions, but then, well, what Mom doesn’t?
The adjustment period has taken me a bit longer than anticipated. I have learned so much about homeschooling philosophies, my son’s behavior, my parenting strategies, and our relationship in the last month. I can’t wait to delve into these and other topics in my coming entries, but first I want to tackle the biggest reason why I made this lifestyle change in the first place:
My child’s best interest.
If someone were to have told me when CJ was born that I would eventually be a homeschooling parent, I would have laughed in their face. It simply was not a route I had ever considered or envisioned myself pursuing. There was never a doubt in my mind that the traditional schooling approach would work for us. And it did, at least through Kindergarten.
Beginning in First Grade, weekly behavior charts assessing attitude, ability to follow directions, organization, assignment completion, etc. were sent home with every student. CJ routinely scored well in areas like enthusiasm for learning, academic ability, and respecting others but showed struggle with impulsivity and, “body control” and rushing through assignments. During a conference with his teacher, she said that boys mature more slowly than girls, and a few other boys in the class were receiving similar marks.
I had asked if she thought he was showing signs of ADHD. She said that staff does not make diagnoses, but it might be something to look into in the future if these behaviors continued. I put her words the back of my mind as we finished out the year. I was not okay with the idea of feeding my son drugs at such a young age, especially when I really doubted he had ADHD to begin with.
Second grade rolled around, and CJ’s reports showed the same trend. With the looming thought of a possible reality of CJ having to take drugs, I became more concerned with finding other “techniques” to “fix” him. We tried lectures, rewards, punishments, diet modification, praise, spanking–you name it we attempted it. And while he did have a few good weeks here and there, nothing produced long-term success. Tears of frustration were shed by both he and I on many occasions. CJ began to feel as though I was always disappointed in him, and I hated that. I asked him why he couldn’t just focus and concentrate on what he needed to work on, and he would always groan with sincerity, “I just CAN’T Mom. I try, but I CAN’T. I’m just stupid.”
I reassured him I loved him and that he was in no way stupid (as he was reading far above grade level, and was being sent to the library during reading period to work on Power Point presentations to give to the class). I backed off a little and told him I just wanted him to do his best. I began reading books about, “Gifted” children and was stunned by how many traits CJ exhibited that matched the common criteria. (Many of which also mimic ADHD behaviors.) I wondered if CJ just might be bored most of the time during class.
That year all students took an aptitude test for the Gifted Program, and while CJ scored in the upper percentages, I didn’t receive notification of him qualifying for specialty classes.
By the time Second Grade ended, CJ’s battles remained constant, but he also was now beginning to deal with negative social issues such as teasing and feeling like he didn’t fit in with his peers. He began having headaches and stomach-aches more frequently and was relieved when Summer Break finally arrived.
Over the summer I read more books about ADHD, Gifted Children, and still wondered if he was one, neither, or a combination of the two. I considered having him professionally evaluated, but ultimately the words were just labels, and I knew the doctor’s solution would be to prescribe some sort of medication. Drugs were the ultimate last resort, and I didn’t feel like we had reached that point.
CJ entered Third Grade last fall and by Winter Break, everything began to come to a head…the teasing, him struggling to fit in, body control, impulsivity, not finishing homework assignments, stress related headaches and stomach pains. He eventually began saying, “I hate school. I don’t want to go.” And that was tough for me because I knew he loved LEARNING and absorbed anything that interested him.
I was at my wit’s end trying to make this work for him. For us. We were both suffering.
In December of last year, through the digging I was doing on the internet, I thankfully stumbled upon two books that gave me hope in having other valid options to the Public School learning environment. One book was, The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn. The second was, The Way They Learn, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. What I read gave me courage to say, “Hang on a minute. Maybe it’s the environment and not simply my son’s nature that’s the main problem here.”
I consumed book after book about Homeschooling and familiarized myself with helpful resources and websites until I felt I could make an educated decision whether this could work for us. The more knowledge I gained, the more I felt this was the right path. I knew I at least had to try.
I took the necessary steps that allowed me the ability to withdraw CJ from Public School and offer a different learning environment, catered specifically to his needs. And while we are only in the beginning stages and acclimation to our new schedule, I have to say a huge amount of stress has been removed from our lives. As CJ’s mother, I will always, to the best of my ability, provide for my son’s best interest. We will continue down this path as long as it works for us, whether it be a couple of months or many years. We’re on this journey together.
Here’s a great article I recently found that gave me even greater insight into our struggles. It helped me feel less isolated in my experience as a parent making similar changes.
I’m so thankful that I have such an amazing friend, and am truly inspired not just as a parent but as a person by this journey that CC is taking!!
Hope you all are having a fantastic Wednesday!!
All My Love,