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Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Homeschool or not to Homeschool .. that's the question.

Kyndal is just like me. She goes to school, takes the proper notes, does the projects, studies for the tests the night before, does well on the tests, retains nothing, socializes often. That's how I was in school. I could do anything I set my mind to, and so can she. No real problems there.

Eli and Brynne are just cute little elementary school students. They love their teachers, love their friends, are having fun learning and growing. Elementary school is great for them.

And then there's Dawson. He's never liked school. Although he can pull decent grades with lots of help in staying organized and doing his work, if left on his own he struggles. He's always been the class clown, not really buckling down like he should. He's been called a goof off. I've been told I should have him tested for ADHD. All of that may be true. But, I don't believe he is a lost cause because he goofs off and I don't think medication is the answer to any of his problems.

He goes to a 7th grade school with 700 students ... yes, 700! He's not an Honors student. He's not a jock. He's not in student council. He has obviously been trying to figure out who he is this year. He hangs out with the Mexican population primarily, not only because he likes them but probably to keep himself from getting beat up at school. They'll protect him. He suffered from bullying in the 6th grade. Even this week he asked me if he looked "gangster" in what he was wearing (jeans, a skateboarding t-shirt, an oversized hoodie, a cross necklace and his Osiris tennis shoes). He was worried that if he did he would get beat up by the "gangster" kids who thought he was trying to copy them.

How's that for a stressful day? And on top of it, he has very few (if any) teachers who care about him and his education. He's just another 1 of 700. He is no real "benefit" to the school. He doesn't have the qualities that make them look good.

I've e-mailed and conferenced with teachers. I've met with the school counselor. I only get minimal results, because I keep pushing. But, really, nobody cares. The school counselor assured me she would be checking with them weekly, talking with him, rewarding him for good work. But, Dawson says she just asks him how he is doing and shows him his grades. I do that.

I've had him going to the school's free tutoring two afternoons a week, which has helped somewhat. But, mostly, I am micromanaging him and his schoolwork. And, it's difficult to do from home, especially when I don't get much support from his teachers.

He's not the student who learns well, if at all, from reading a chapter and answering questions and testing on it. He's one of those students who learns best from hands-on projects and application of the subject matter. If he lucks out and gets that kind of teacher, then he does okay. If he has the other kind, he's toast.

There is an argument that he needs to learn how to adapt to the different environments, because he will have to do that in real life. I agree with that to a certain extent. Yes, he must respect each teacher and their teaching style and do his best to adapt. But if he can't learn a certain way, he just can't! Not without help and support, that is. And, who says he has to do anything in his future, as an adult, that requires him to work under "normal" rules of employment. Guess what .. he's never going to have that kind of job. His personality and gifts will take him someplace else. I've always known that. And I want him to be who he is, not who someone else says he has to be.

He has started begging me to homeschool him. And, it's something I have honestly considered for the past couple of years. And as of late I have really been considering it. I'm not sure Rick thinks it's a good idea. I have a feeling his biological dad is going to fight me every step of the way. But Dawson wants it so bad. In fact, just yesterday, he said that's all he wants for his birthday this year.

The bottom line is, to me, that Dawson is not learning to his fullest potential. This is partly because of him, and partly because the cards are stacked against him. But as a mother I feel such a strong pull to help him succeed in his life, no matter what it takes from me.

I know I can do it. I have the organizational skills. I have the ability to research curriculum and write lessons plans. I know how he thinks and his strengths and weaknesses and I can get him to do what I need him to do. I'm a whole lot more stubborn than him, and don't want to be made a fool, so I would succeed (if it killed us both). I have great ideas. I like to spend time with him so we would have fun. I would actually enjoy learning what I would be teaching him. As it looks right now, next year is lining up for me to be home. Even if I felt like I needed to substitute teach a couple of days a week, I could still do that and teach him (he could do assignments and projects while I was working). If I do my online college teaching, I can do both. I can do it.

But is it what's best for him? Will my lack of patience fight against us? Will I go into orbit if he doesn't put into it what I expect him to put into it? Will my expectations be too high?

And, am I wanting to do this for the right reasons? Is this just a project to me that I am desiring to tackle for my own needs and desires, or do I really want to do this to help my child succeed?

I'll be honest. I think I really want to take this on .. for both reasons.

I just don't know what's right.


  1. It actually sounds like what both of you might be needing. Obviously, it's easy to see why Dawson needs it. are also in need of something "fulfilling" and seeing him do better and be happier would be about the most rewarding experience you could have. Sounds like another one of those "aha" moments!!!

  2. I love homeschooling but I also know it isn't for everyone. If public school isn't giving him what he needs trying something different is worth a try. It is a big decision... I'm praying for you!

  3. Our son has been homebased taught since 7th grade. We found a terrific program while living in San Diego. He blossomed there.

    Marcus will be graduating from his distance learning school this year. He's continued with his love of volunteering and self learning.

    There are some kids that traditional school is not a good fit.

    Continue to do your research and make sure to include opportunities for volunteerism and extra curricular activities.

  4. Hey Nicole,
    I actually teared up reading this. I hate bullies! Cameron actually dealt with it in 2nd grade! I couldn't believe it could start so early. I feel bad he does not have the teachers reaching out to him. With him asking you to do it seems to me that he is dealing with so much at school. I will be praying for you because it is a big decision. I know you could do it.


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