Sunday, February 14, 2010

Would people be as supportive if...

...we had elected to HS our children for other than our current reasons? I often wonder about that.

My daughter has severe environmental allergies. Her symptoms are asthma as well as severe and disabling eczema all over her body. Even the soles of her feet and palms of her hands at times. She cannot go outside at all during some times of the year. From the car to the house etc is fine but recess? Impossible. Public school requirements prevented her from being alone inside the building during recess or sports. And the only way she could get someone inside with her was to declare her a special needs person. That was and still is absolutely out of the question. I refuse to label my daughter 'special needs' for the obvious implications. How many of us have seen someone talk to the person pushing a wheelchair as for example, rather than the individual who sits in it? Just because they aren't able to walk doesn't make them handicapped in other areas. I was afraid that my daughter would be treated and tutored as a special needs person. She is highly intelligent. Gifted is what her private school teachers called her when she went there.
The thing I wonder about is this... if we were fundamental Christians or Pagans or whatever, would people still be supportive? Isn't it all, shouldn't it all be about the children and their education? Rather than focusing on why people may homeschool, shouldn't the focus be on enabling them to provide the best education possible? Am I a trained teacher? Nope, not in the least. I took my son out of his pre-school with their trained teachers. He didn't learn didley there. Nada, Nichts and Nothing. Now he is learning to decode words based on phonics, he does math (Kindergarten/1st grade) and can point out more countries on a globe and States of the US than most adults I know. Nothing is forced on him and he gets to say 'no more' when he feels he's done enough. Learning is initiated by him. When he wants to learn he'll come to me in the morning  or afternoon and ask to 'do school'. What he does is exclusively his choice. Dinosaurs are big on the list right now. Prior to these last few weeks I never knew there were so many different kinds of dinos.

I think its terrible that homeschooling seems to boil down to labeling individuals and their decisions to homeschool. I would think most people would agree that the majority of parents do this with only the best for their child in mind. Yes, there are the oddballs of course but they exist in the public school world too. Do we critize them there for their decision to send their kids to often horrible public schools? I have heard teachers complain about just every kind of parent. The parents that don't care, the ones that care, the ones that are just  too involved etc etc. But aren't overly involved parents better than those who don't care at all? My daughter went for one disastrous year to the local public school just down the street from us. That was her Kindergarten year. She had just completed 2 years at a marvelous private school and the result was that she was miles ahead of the rest of her class. What was shocking than just in her room alone were 3 kids who, at age 5, didn't even know how to write their own name. I don't think every child should have been able to read like my daughter did, but at least the very minimum a 5 year old child should be capable of writing their own name.

I am not a teacher. But there is one thing for sure, I only have to focus on 2 children and that alone makes the job easier. My children learn at their pace rather than that of the lowest common denominator in class. We seem to be making great strides and yet, oddly enough, because of the negativity swirling around home education I often find myself justifying myself when my son volunteers the fact that we homeschool. For now I'll stop doing that just to see if people will react differently. I would like to think that it wouldn't change peoples reaction, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I'll be proven wrong.