Oh my god. She might HOMESCHOOL.

One night a few weeks ago while I was tucking my 7 year old son into bed he got all fidgety and bent down from his bunk to wrap his arms around my neck. I was anxious to get him to sleep after a long day so I patted him and tried to pry him off of me but he clung tight. “Mom, I don’t want to go to school tomorrow. I wanna stay home with you.” This tugged at my heart. I teach 3 evenings a week and don’t see my two sons very much on those days at all. I thought he was just missing his mamma, so I gave him another squeeze and explained that we all have places that we have to go and things that we have to learn and that we’d spend lots and lots of time together over the weekend. But that wasn’t what was on his mind. “But I have a clock test tomorrow and I don’t wanna take it because I keep getting bad grades. I can never get A’s. I keep getting 50’s and I wanna get an A. I’m so bad at clocks.” Ah. There we go. He’s learning how to tell time at school and the test was the next day. I nuzzled him and told him how proud I am of him and that whatever grade he gets that I love him. That seemed to placate him and he laid down with his pillow pet and went to sleep. But now I was worried.

Sure enough, two weeks later he came home with a packet of graded papers and as I flipped through them plastered on the top of each paper was a 50%, 54%, 60%. The poor guy. He didn’t even want to show us. And I felt this enormous pang of guilt, again, that it was my fault. That I am abandoning my son who is struggling in school so that I can teach college students poetry and writing. My husband is diligent with our boys’ homework. They get off the bus, have a snack and hit the books. Math, social studies, sentences, sight words, and the occasional project. They get an hour or so to play before dinner but then it’s showers and 20 minutes of reading before bed. And still 50’s on tests. For a 7 year old kid, this all seems so maddening to me.

And all of a sudden the guilt fell away and I started to get mad. But lets bring this essay into the present tense for the sake of transparency. All of a sudden my guilt falls away and I am mad. I am sitting her mad for my son. I’m angry typing. Why in the world a 7 year old is tested so vigorously that he’s anxious and nervous and fearful of bad grades is beyond my understanding. And the most infuriating thing about it all is that at home he can do his work. At home we give him time and space to figure out the answer. There’s no pressure. No rush. No fear of a bad grade. He can make a mistake and not be slapped with a 50 F. Oh, sorry. A 50 E. Whatever the hell an E is. It’s an F, okay? Changing a 50 to an E doesn’t change the fact that it’s a failing grade.

Phew. Sorry. There’s that anger. When I get angry it comes out all cynical and snarky.

So, it leaves us with some homework of our own. I’ve gone to the school and talked about some reading remediation, some psychological testing, as if being a 7 year old is cause for psychological concern. But not much has changed. He’s borderline… whatever, whatever. He doesn’t qualify for an IEP, at least not yet. Well, that’s because nothing is wrong with him. He’s a 7 year old who’s self esteem has been so trampled that he’s fearful of even taking the tests, let alone do well on them. How do you write an IEP for that? You don’t. Because then the responsibility is no longer his or mine but the school’s. And isn’t that where the guilt comes in? He’s my son, shouldn’t I be responsible for his education and not the school? Shouldn’t I step up and recognize the problem? Get him tutoring? Spend more hours drilling him with flashcards and books? Well, no. Not at all. Because to me, if a child is spending 6 hours a day at school he should be learning. Something should be sticking. To me, a 7 year old having to come home and spend more hours on work is absurd. To me, if that’s what has to be done then the 6 hours spent at school isn’t working and something is wrong with them and not him. Especially when we do sit with him and work with him and read to him and encourage him. And let’s not forget that our kindergartner is reading at a first grade level. He’s excelling and doing great. All of that testing doesn’t phase him at all. But I don’t want to compare them. Not ever. They’re different people with different likes and abilities. And they’re both coming from a home that values their education and their well being.

Here we are. Right in the middle of this. I saw all of those grades last night when I got home from work. I’m calling the school again today to see what else we can do. How can we help my son to want to do well?

Remember that change that I mentioned in my post yesterday? Well, against everything that I believe and value, I’m considering homeschooling him next year. I’ve always been a big proponent for public school. I am a product of public school and I loved it. I had a great experience with learning and my education. But that was before standardized testing. It was before sight words. We worked on phonics and did projects and played games and I didn’t start homework until 4th grade. And look at me. I’m well educated and smart, though slightly cynical. Okay, a lot cynical. And I love school. So much that it hurts to see my son struggle so deeply. If there is not much more improvement this year, which we’re in the 4th quarter already, we’re going to seriously consider him staying home with me to give him a project and phonics based education as opposed to a test based education. He’ll have room to make mistakes. Ask questions. Wiggle. Squirm. Stand. Play. Explore. You know, be a 7 year old. I don’t know if it will work. I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve got the support of family and friends and a hoard of teacher’s who are much smarter than me who are encouraging me. Because I gotta tell you, I don’t have a degree in education or early childhood pedagogy or reading skills, but I am a mom and I see my kid struggling in a system that is broken. And I’m going to do what needs to be done to fix it. You can count on that.


19 thoughts on “Oh my god. She might HOMESCHOOL.

  1. This story is a familiar one to me. I’ve been homeschooling for seven years now and it was the best move I ever made for my family. I remember the anger when my daughter would become physically ill before school because of nerves. I remember the disbelief that I would ever consider homeschooling. I remember the nervousness when we ventured into the public during school hours the first year. Yet now, my children are not only excelling academically, but they are confident of who they are and what they want in life. Hang in there, whatever path you choose!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I was sure that I’d find support on wordpress for homeschooling. I’m very reluctant to keep him home and am hoping for a positive outcome at his school this year. I gave your blog a follow and look forward to learning from some homeschooling pros. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always thrown around the idea in my head. I think each kids learning is so different that the school system can’t possibly cater to them all. The one I considered homeschooling is do social and I fear that loss of contact would be an issue. I wish it wouldn’t be because I would take him under my wing in a second. You are already looking at everything and will know when the time comes what’s best for him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only person who struggles with the same things when it comes to homeschooling or not homeschooling. I want to be careful to not romanticize it. Instagram and the blogging world can make it look so… beautiful! And easy! But my kids already do a good job of driving me a bit nutso sometimes, so I have to remember that it would be difficult.

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  3. Best of luck whichever way you go! We are about 5 years into the homeschooling journey. I do not feel like I chose homeschooling as much as it chose me. I don’t have the personality for it, the patience it requires just to be at home with a child/children all the time is taxing for me who is an socially functioning introvert. Two pieces of advice: get a curriculum so you aren’t stumbling around in the dark (I love the waldorf ones from Christopherus, we have used them for 4 years) and various coffees of different roasts and origins so you have something to look forward to everyday : )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ashley you will do fine Elizabeth home schools all four of ours for the Last five years…No one is a better educator then their parents… It is not easy …we use a mix of Abeka and Bob Jones University but VA is a homeschooling friendly state. Google the HEAV…it is a homeschooling organization in VA ..SS for the social aspect that is a myth…are children have more social opportunity that most public schoolers…better programs and better field trips…If. You have any questions hit me up in Facebook.. We dine it in VA and NC.. Best of luck…and remember you have to do what is best for you and yours…everyone has opinions..but we all known how that goes..

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  5. I grew up in the public school system and always figured that’s where my kids would go. My oldest son was a brilliant child when he started school. He had a love for learning. By the time he reached grade 2, he was anxious and didn’t want to go to school anymore. It broke my heart that he didn’t want to learn anymore. Well, he wanted to learn at home, just not at school. That’s the first time I ever considered homeschool. We tried it for fun during the summer and we enjoyed it so much we just kept going. At school, he had developed a fear of failing and it took him a whole year to get that out of his system. He’s now able to relax and enjoy the learning process. Even when he fails. Our family life is much more relaxed now that we’re all at home (I now have 3 kids). I used to wonder if I’d be able to do this, but now I know with confidence that I can. There are so many good curriculum out there that are designed to help you teach your child regardless of your own level of knowledge. Because you love your child and are invested in his academics, you will do whatever is necessary to make sure he learns whatever it is you are teaching him. You will research, discuss and discover ways to teach the material. You’ll do just fine. I am sure of it. It takes me between 2 and 3 hours every day to teach my kids. That’s it. No need for extra homework. And they’re learning and retaining what’s been taught! It gives us so much time to do fun stuff like music, sports, baking, arts and crafts, etc. If you decide to homeschool, I have no doubt that you will not only do well, but you will enjoy it too. It brought our family closer and we have no regrets. Our kids are so happy now and they don’t even want to return to public school. I can’t wait to read more about what you decide to do. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that just made me all gooey and teary eyed. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I often don’t think of myself as being qualified to teach my kids, but you’re right! I totally can and they’d benefit greatly from it. Thanks for your kind comment and I’ll definitely give your blog a follow and reach out if we decide to homeschool.


      1. Awww! That’s good! You know what’s best for your child and your family. Don’t let the fear of not being good enough stop you from homeschooling. To be honest, it’s hard, scary and tiresome. But just like being a parent, you have good days and bad days and it’s always worth it. Especially if you chose to do it for all the right reasons. And you won’t be alone. There’s a great homeschool online community out there!!!


  6. I started my girls homeschooling from kindergarten, now they’re in 1st and 3rd and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I myself was homeschooled 3-8th grade, and years after graduating, I now regret the public schooling from 9th to 12th.

    My oldest daughter also has a fear of getting a bad grade, and I can relate because I too struggle with working under pressure. When you homeschool, the environment, the pressure, the rules, are all up to you. You teach, so I think you’d be great at it! I’m a strong supporter of homeschooling. It’s personal tutoring, basically, since the teacher’s guides help the teacher just as much as the student. There are so many more perks to homeschooling than sending your kid off on the bus. I personally couldn’t do it.

    I could write an entire essay about my opinion on public schools, but it’s very close to your feelings. It’s a mixed bag, really. But if you can homeschool, I truly applaud that decision! And it’s so nice to see so much support in your comments section!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m actually shocked they’re teaching “sight reading” again. I was taught with “sight reading” in the late 1940’s and didn’t learn about phonics until I became a first and second-grade teacher. When I changed schools and attended a Catholic school in the 3rd grade, I didn’t understand what was happening because they were teaching phonics. I didn’t even know what a paragraph was. When I began teaching in 1967, the public schools were teaching phonics again. The public school system in the U.S. just “loves” to experiment. It seems even when things are going well they have to mess it up by switching to something else. For instance, they threw “New Math” at us and the U.S. now is far behind other nations in the math ability of its kids. I had to finally hire a math tutor for my daughter and she went on to take calculus. I asked the school to put her in a lower math group as she was in the accelerated groups in everything and doing well except for math. They said they “couldn’t” do that so I had to do something. They put far too much pressure on children at a young age and you end up with children like your son suffering for it. I read once that public schools were built around teaching children who were eventually going to work in factories. They were originally not meant to worry about children who learned differently. All were taught the same. Parents today either have to home school or spend more money sending their children to private schools. It sounds like the school your children attend does not want to work with you. The only other thing I can suggest is having the other parents whose children are having trouble joining you and putting pressure on the school system. I’m so sorry your child is suffering because the school system is putting too much pressure on him. The school system and its teachers are probably being pressured from above. It’s indeed a sad situation. — Suzanne


  8. I’m totally late to the conversation here, but I’m also late to your blog. How have I been missing out on all this? Just wanted to throw in my two cents. Growing up I attended an American int’l school in Africa, had a tutor, attended U.S. public school, attended two public schools in other countries (Portugal, Kenya), was homeschooled in Africa and the U.S. and attended boarding school in Africa for three years in high school. I guess you could say I’ve done it all. My point is, you don’t have to be committed to one for life! It depends on each child (my older brother attended a Christian private school and public school during some of the time the rest of us were homeschooling) and where you live. Right now, we do a mix of local school for half day and about 30 minutes (reading. writing, math) in the afternoons when they want a break from play and want to watch TV (kids ages 4 and 6). No TV until school is a great motivator. They get done and play the rest of time! I’ve heard of many families who keep their sons home and do homeschool for a couple years before putting them in formal school for the very reasons you’ve mentioned. Wish we could hang out over coffee and discuss more. I’m passionate about education!


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