Saturday, October 1, 2011

Adventures in Homeschooling - Part One


Trent has had a lot of struggles with school. For the past, I don’t even know how many years, Trent has consistently failed math, mostly failed science, failed or got low grades in English, and been hit or miss in social studies. On top of this, Trent still seems to not grasp the concepts of writing. He doesn’t always capitalize the beginning of sentences, has atrocious spelling, etc...

     While Trent was collecting his progress report to see if he qualified to play in last week’s football game, we found out that he was once again failing all his academic courses.

       I get a lot of complaints from Trent and  Trent’s teachers/school staff.The school’s complaints: Trent doesn’t bring paper to class. Trent regularly loses his text books. Trent doesn’t have any pens or pencils. Trent never turns in any homework ( I get this one and the no book a lot). Trent disrupts the  classroom. Trent’s complaints: they don’t listen to me. I can’t concentrate for a whole hour while someone talks at me . I don’t understand and the teachers don’t believe me. The teacher wont answer my questions during class and I forget by the end (some teachers have a no interrupt policy where the kids can’t interrupt the lesson and can only ask their questions after the lesson is over or after school). I don’t have enough time to get my stuff out of my locker and then make it to the next class.

    Both sides have valid complaints. So, as my child’s advocate, I looked long and hard at these things. I realized that I also had a few complaints of my own. The school kept passing my child when he had horrible reports and grades. Also, when I am at the school I find myself cringing at the way the adults treat the kids. I know that they are adults and are the leaders of the school and the children are there to learn, but the children are still human beings, with thoughts and with feelings. They also live in the good U.S. of A, land of the free. Case in point, I am at Trent’s basketball game and I see this; A young girl running down the hall laughing. An adult woman grabs her by the arm as she passes and says “Where were you at? What were you doing?” I don’t hear where the girl said she was at but I couldn’t help but to hear what the adult’s response …. Adult screams” Really Kallie, you expect me to believe that? YOU ARE A LIAR! A TOTAL LIAR!” young girl mumbles something in defense adult continues screaming “I don’t even want to HEAR it. I am so sick of you kids and all your LIEING! You are nothing but a LIAR! Now get out of this school and go home!” After the game we see the adult that I had seen screaming at the girl and I ask Trent “ Who is that? Does she work for the school?” and Trent replies “That’s the Principal” I tell him what happened earlier and he shrugs, “Oh, she always is screaming at someone” I am shocked! First, I had never seen this woman. I had thought that the man I always see and talk to was the principal (turns out he was the assistant Principal) and what the hell was a principal doing acting like that in the middle of a busy school sponsored sporting event? If she acts like that to kids with parents around what is it like during the school day? I am not saying that I wouldn’t lose it if I had to be principal of a busy middle school, but that is why I wouldn’t CHOOSE,as my job, to be the principal of a busy middle school…

    That being said, some of his teachers were really good. He had a social studies teacher last year that called me, not to complain, but to say that all the sudden Trent seemed to be putting in a lot of extra effort and she wanted to recognize him for it. There was also an awesome science teacher that I will get to later.

   I also want to take some responsibility. I knew when I looked at his grades that he wasn’t doing well. I would ground him. I would make him bring books home. I had him do tutoring.But, I did not go to the school and demand help for my child. I did not insist that we spend hours after school studying. The reason was that I remember school and I know my child. I remember how boring and soul crushing it was. How awkward and terrifying. I did understand, at some level, that no amount of threatening, grounding, or yelling was going to make sitting for hour after hour of  educational lectures something Trent could do. I was Trent’s mom. I saw him at home trying to make it through one of my 5-10 minute lectures. I know how Trent’s mind wanders,how he finds it so difficult to organize his thoughts and his things, how easily “shiny things” make him forget what he was doing , how he finds it easier to learn to music, how he likes to move between things and get involved. How he likes to feel like he has some say in what happens to him. He is a lot like me. So I knew I wasn’t going to MAKE him start turning in papers or sit still or learn at school when I was all the way at home. So, I gave up. I still went through the motions of groundings, asked everyday if he had homework, listen to the teachers and apologized for his behavior but it stopped bothering me. I accepted he wasn’t going to change and lived with the ENORMOUS guilt.    END OF PART ONE

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