Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why I Won't Send My Child to Public School




"Why don't you send Christopher to school?"  "Why are you homeschooling him?  It's best that he be in school."

Yes, these are questions that I have heard many times.  Too many times.  And if you homeschool, chances are you have heard them too!

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you may or may not know that I first started homeschooling my son back in January of 2014 when he was in first grade.  He had some wonderful teachers at school when he was in preschool and in the primary grades.  He also has Selective Mutism.  That muddies the water just a little.  More on this later...

And before I go any further, I feel it is important to make the disclaimer that I taught in the public schools for 14 years, I taught in private schools for 7 years, and at some point, all three of my boys have been in public and private schools. My middle son is in public school and is thriving.  My oldest attended a private high school where he did exceptionally well.  I am a public school teacher supporter; I am a supporter of teachers (public, private, and homeschool).  

My response to the above questions that I am asked frequently is, "It's complicated".  And indeed it is, as there were many factors that went into this decision.  But, in the long run, it's what is best for my child at this time, this season of his life.  And, I am blessed that I am now retired from teaching and have the time, passion, and health to homeschool him.


So, why do I not send my child to public school if I am such a big supporter?  Do I not put "my money where my mouth is?"  Here's why:


  • My son, at the tender age of 8, has attended both private and public schools.  He was diagnosed with Selective Mutism when he was three years old.  He has never talked aloud to his teachers or friends at school.  Not even on the playground.  He hates school.  Yes hate is a strong word, but it is how he feels about school.  From the time he was in preschool, he was a nervous wreck before school and would throw tantrums after school at home.  Sometimes these would last for hours. I am aware that effective treatment for S.M. includes desensitization.  A big, fancy word for exposure therapy.  In any case, I am aware that he shouldn't learn to avoid his fears, but right now this child is at risk for transposing his negative feelings for school onto learning.  He isn't being as successful as he could at school on social, emotional, and academic levels.

  • And the last thing that I want is for my child to hate learning. In order to try and keep the little flame that he does have alive, I feel that at-home learning is best for him. Best for him right now.  Because right now, even though he had wonderful report cards, this child detests school and associates learning with such negative, fearful emotions.

  • At school- at any school- he is compliant with rules.  He would do nothing to draw attention to himself and that includes getting into trouble.  So, he became a rigid rule follower so as not to be singled out and have to move a card or have his clip moved.  This is exactly what he just told me yesterday.  What parents and teacher want is for kids to be respectful and obedient.  However, my son has taken it to a new level and has become almost crippled with fear and is extremely stifled.

  • He finished out last year with an amazing second grade teacher whom he loved.  And he did whisper to her.  And he got pretty good grades.  Except, that he has some areas that I am concerned about now that he's in third grade:  He is a poor speller, has difficulty hearing sounds in words to encode, has weak reading comprehension {probably because he reads too fast, skips words, and inserts words}, and his writing is below grade level. I believe several of these are a direct result of not speaking in class. He cannot spell a word by "stretching out the sounds like a rubber band" because he can't (physically and emotionally he cannot) speak out loud at school.

  • Something else that I noticed is that he is a kinesthetic learner. You would never know this unless you observed him at home. I have observed him in a classroom setting since he was a three year old, during which sometimes he knew I was in class with him and other times he did not see me. He is stone silent at school and can literally sit for hours doing seatwork.  On the other hand, at home he enjoys standing to do his work, he hums, sings, taps his pencil, stomps his feet and LOVES hands-on learning. He also likes to interject my teaching with his own thoughts and questions.  He is a noisy learner as well.  If you observed him in class, you would think he enjoyed worksheets, was an auditory learner, and was a shy kid who liked to stay in his seat.




So, not sending my child to public school or any school for that matter, is what is best for him. It isn't in his best interest to spend all year preparing for a high stakes test, completing lots of seatwork, remaining silent all day long, being scared to speak, playing alone at recess, or trying to be something he's not. 

 I don't have issues with the teachers.  I love them, I really do!  It's the system that I have issues with and when coupled with my son's personality and diagnosis, it is just not working.  But, it's not even just that.  It's because we have tried private school, we have tried public school, and we have tried homeschooling in the past.  And what is apparent is that this child loves to learn. This child likes to move it, move it! This child is very curious, a go-getter, and an independent learner. And I need to fan that flame and help him to get caught up in his weak areas and to build off of his strengths. I want him to love learning. I want him to see himself as a learner.  I want him to awake each day and be excited about what he will learn instead of feeling fear, anticipation, dread, and anxiety.

Will he return to school at some point?  Maybe, maybe not.  He has told me that he would like to go to middle school to play the trumpet in the band.  That just makes my heart smile!





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2 comments:

  1. Lauren-
    You're very lucky that you can afford to homeschool! I agree that the system of public school doesn't work for every child.
    Deniece

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deniece, Yes, I am so blessed to be able to homeschool! It has come at a great sacrifice, but it is so worth it. :-) Lauren

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