Thursday, October 24, 2013

The (long overdue) Homeschooling Post

Athena went to public school this fall. She wanted to try it out and she felt like she was ready. I always told her that when she wanted to give it a go we would let her. She had no fear and was very excited. She liked the school work. She liked joining the school choir. She loved learning to play the recorder. It wasn't the school work she didn't like. What she didn't like was the meanness of some of the girls. The boys? They were great but she says it seems that the girls and boys can't play together at this school. Too bad.

Last week Athena pushed someone. And I got the phone call from the teacher. She suggests counselling so she can "fit in with the other kids." I was told that the girls wanted to play with her and she didn't want to play so Athena struck out in anger. I had a hard time believing this. When Athena came home she told me that they did ask her to play and she did push a girl. But... this was the one and only time they asked her to play. They drew a circle in the sand on the school ground. All five girls were allowed in and she was to stay outside the perimeter and if she would try to play in there with them they would push her out. Fun game. Wouldn't you want to play that? So after Athena got tired of this game she walked away to play by herself, as she does every single day. The girls came after her and tried to get her to come back. They called her all kinds of names and she pushed a girl away. She did. And now she needs counselling. (I am not one of those parents that thinks her child can do no wrong. She may need counselling but not for that!)

Things like this have been going on the entire time. She asked me if she was weird because all the girls say she is. She told me she gets a lump in her throat, and she doesn't know why, but it always means that tears fill her eyes. She asked if she could be homeschooled again. And we said yes.

Some people don't agree. "Let her find her own way." "She needs to find out all people aren't nice." "She needs to learn to deal with conflict."  On and on and on.  And yes she does need to learn all of those things. But I ask you, as an adult, right now, would you be able to bear up in your life if these things happened to you each and every day? Now I ask again, should a little child, who has sensory issues, who is most probably on the spectrum, who is a little different than most kids, should she have to deal with this day in and day out? I didn't think so.

I consulted my daughters, my mother and some special friends (thank you, you know who you are) and after discussing it with Athena and Paul, we are bringing her back home. Her last day at public school is tomorrow.

We are bringing her home so she can feel safe and secure.
We are bringing her home so she can learn in a quiet and uninterrupted space.
We are brining her home where people "get her."
We are bringing her home because we can offer an alternative to public school where not everyone fits in and not everyone thrives.
We are bringing her home where we can offer her the best we can.
Will it be all she needs? No
Will we be able to offer her everything? No.
Will she have some gaps? Probably.
Would public school give her everything? All she needs? Hell, no!

PS It should be noted that she made it 8 weeks without using the public bathrooms. She can't handle that.
PSS She is so glad that she can finally put a comma after the number in the thousands place without getting a big red X on her paper.


Dawn said...

I shivered and felt tears in my eyes as I read about some of the things that Athena has had to deal with at school. This is heartbreaking stuff. I didn't realize it was so bad. You're doing the right thing Michelle. My first thought was to be angry with the teachers for not stepping in and noticing what was happening, but then I thought about my own experience teaching 2nd grade. I remember that recess was the toughest part of the day for many of the kids. I had kids who did not want to leave my classroom for recess, but I was not allowed to let them stay inside. It would break my heart, because I knew that it was terrible for them out there. After recess, it was always a challenge to know how to deal with all the complaints and tales of what had happened out there- particularly because I had not been there and seen things for myself. I don't know why I just wrote that long story, but there you are. School is not a goof place for every kid. I'm glad that Athena has such loving parents who are looking out for her best interests.

EMMA said...

Sorry to hear about Athena's school experience. I've been following your posts about schooling and I think you are doing the right thing. Kids can be so mean, and I guess they won't even realize how much it hurts - the child and the parents - are until perhaps one day, their own kids find themselves on the receiving end of meanness.
Enjoy your homeschooling with Athena. Looking forward to hearing about it in future posts.

Tara said...

Big hugs to you and your sweet girl!
Kids should be where they are honored and respected and nurtured and sadly that isn't always possible at public school. You two have come out the other side of this and will have the best homeschool year yet!!!

renee @ FIMBY said...

I am one of those overprotective parents. The kind who think young children should not be bullied and that those who do the bullying are very hurting and need help.

I am the kind of adult who choses not to invest in relationships where I do not feel secure and safe. I avoid people who bring me down and in cases where I cannot I am emotionally mature enough to deal with it. I believe children need to have this choice also. And I don't believe we need to "learn to live with" situations we don't want to be in. What kind of craziness is that?

People aren't all nice. I choose to not hang out with the mean ones. I can't believe we wouldn't give children the same courtesy and decision making power.

I just feel so bad for those little ones who don't have someone to advocate for them. To bring them home and teach them there. And those children who hurt others with words and actions are so wounded themselves. It's so sad.

I'm so happy to hear that Athena is home again. (smile).

Sarah said...

Your poor mama heart, Michelle! Athena is so very blessed to have you and Paul at her back. Good things await you this year- I can just tell. Big big hugs to you.