Friday, March 19, 2010


A and E brought home their very first report cards last night. Now, E has severe ADHD in addition to Bipolar and OCD. For a month of this grading period, we had a gap in her health insurance. We were able to continue her meds for her OCD and her Bipolar through that gap, but not the meds for her ADHD. We tried giving her caffiene pills but they didn't do much of anything. For E, being without her ADHD meds is dibelitating, severely so. Without her meds, the child could easily qualify for SSI due to her mental health issues. She's unbelievable smart...and headed down the road of a lifetime of mental health struggles.

So, I was not surprised at the halfway point of the grading period when she brought home a progress report indicating 2 Fs. She was failing Science and Social Studies. She knew the material. Science has actually always been one of her absolute favorite subjects. She simply decided that how the schools teach science is stupid. She was insistent that science cannot be taught unless its done hands-on with experimentation.

Gulp, that's my fault. That's how I've always taught Science. And, its an excellent method for learning science, no doubt about that. Its also not a methodology she is going to get in public school until at least high school. We went rounds several times before I finally told her she could be right...or she could play the game by their rules and win--her choice. I also let her know that chlidren actually failing school need the time they normally devote to extra-curriculars to focus on their studies.

If she had been incapable of passing her classes, I wouldn't have taken such a hard stance with her. However, the primary reason E is not being homeschooled anymore is because of her absolte refusal to respect me as a teacher anymore.

I then held my breath in hopes that she would rise and accomplish what she was capable of. More than once she was screaming at me, "I CAN TOO make good grades in school!" Over and over again through this grading period, I assured her calmly that yes I knew full well she CAN make good grades. But, not finishing assignments, not bringing home her homework, not studying for spelling tests was choosing to not do well. She *can* do anything she sets her mind to. She was not setting her mind to this task. I was very worried she was going to fail. And, given how badly this school adminstration hates us, failing her subjects would likely landed her retained even though she and I both know she doesn't need to be retained.

She brought her report card home last night and waited to bombard me as soon as I got home from class. She didn't even tell her daddy she had it. She didn't even peak at her own grades. Good or bad, she wanted me to see it first.

In all but Science and Social Studies, she brought home A's. In those 2 classes...........C's. I hooped and hollered and ever cried. After seeing at least 3 Science papers with grades in the teens, I really and seriously wasn't sure she was going to pull it off. I was pretty sure I was going to have to explain to her that I had set the standards too high for her having just entered school and being off her meds for half of the grading period. I was seriously regretting setting a standard I was pretty sure she was going to fail, and I didn't want her failing in her state to public school. In the end, she did it!!!!!!!!!

Then there is A. A has ESL issues. I've always known he's an incredibly bright child. But, he entered our home at age 7-8 with absolutely no educational background. He loves for me to tell him the story about the round earth. His first science lesson in America was to learn that the earth was round and not flat. It took him 2 weeks and more than one NASA photograph of the earth to finally accept that truth. Once he accepted that, his mind miraculously opened up and his quest for knowledge and science has been unstoppable. But, English is his third language and reading and writing has been a slow and painful process for him. When his peers were learning their ABCs and 123s, he was learning to recognize blue hats because they meant safe drinking water. When his peers were playing with legos, he was learning to keep a wide berth of child soldiers for the sake of safety. He was getting lessons from his uncle that no matter how bleak the world seems you never, ever, ever sniff shoe glue to escape it. He entered an orphanage where education meant rote memorization or face a cane across the hands, arms, legs, buttocks and back.

For 6 years, I have told this child that he is amazing and brillant. For those same 6 years, he has convinced himself that I only say such things because I am his mommy and love him. He knows I don't lie. He just convinced himself that I was bias and stretched the truth because I was blinded by my love. Careful of his sensitive heart and insecurities, I had intended to keep him homeschooling. He threw me a curveball at Christmas and requested to go to school. He was starting to believe me that this was ESL issues...and he wanted a professional skilled in ESL issues to teach him.

He actually told me last month that he's still considering going back to homeschooling for High School,but he desperately wants to see his ESL services and full integration to completion. At least once a week, A takes over teaching his science class because he has a knack for explaining the concepts in ways the other ESL students can understand (years of his mother translating science into pidgin wouldn't have anything to do with that, I'm sure). His ESL teacher tells him constantly that he should become a doctor and not dream of being a professional soccer player. Considering the investement of resources and dreams already into his soccer career and the scores of coaches with stars in their eyes hoping to hitch their name to that future career potential, I'm sure they are groaning everytime he hears that he should become a doctor and not dream of soccer. I would love to see him become a doctor. However, I made peace a year ago with his soccer aspirations and his seemingly amazing talent in the sport. I have decided to let him focus on the sport so long as its what HE wants and what HE enjoys.

I've known A was doing well in school. Since moving him into the ESL program, he has been full of light and joy. He sets his own alarm, gets himself ready for school and eagerly dances by the front door waiting for his special ESL bus every morning. Going to the ESL program involves a grueling 1.5 hour bus ride each direction across the school district. It means that with my afternoon/evening classes and his insane soccer schedule (3 team practice nights a week and his coach has now added a 1:2 coaching session--that's A with 2 coaches, followed by joining team practice with another team on a 4th night of the week) and he and I hardly ever see each other anymore. We haven't even had time to try and find a Boy Scout troop for him. Yet, he is happy and thriving in this program.

And, his report card reflects that truth. A made HONOR ROLL!!!! He made all As and Bs in his schoolwork. He doesn't feel so stupid now.

In general, I cannot get over what these report cards mean for these children but also for this family. I started homeschooling a decade ago because I believed it was a superior academic education for early elementary school. Originally, I intended to homeschool early elementary and transition my children to public school somewhere between late elementary school and high school, depending upon each individual child. As I lost my grip in the rabbit hole, I began to fear sending the children to school. I feared I wasn't maintained their academics on par with their schooled peers. I feared the intrusion into our family. I feared the influences that going to school would open in their lives. In my worst moments as a homeschooling mother, I fantasized about sending them to school...and I simply knew they would be destroyed by going to school and my heart would break. It took total devestation to finally bring me to sending them to school. And, clearly the experiment did NOT go so well for the early elementary schoolers who have been brought back to homeschooling at this point. But, to see my fears for these older children not realized but they have soared...its amazing. It validates what I taught them, reaffirms the original ideas I had on homeschooling and am rapidly returning to without the legalism and bondage of the other stuff we embraced. Mostly, it just really means that these super smart kids went to school in BAD and stressful circumstances, and they thrived anyway. None of my fears materialized for these two, even with the challenges presented by this horrific elementary school administration.

They are going to be okay. I have no destroyed their lives, their world nor even their education!!!!!!!

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