Learning Disability? Or “School Disability”!
By Ann Zeise
A mother wrote to me….
I have three children and all three of them are doing poorly in school this year. My oldest daughter, who is very smart, is not fairing well. I had a meeting with five of her teachers the other day and left upset by what they said. My daughter has always been very quick to pick up on things, but this year she is doing just awful. I feel as if the school system (public) is letting my kids down.
My middle daughter has been having trouble since 1st grade. I have been on the school to do testing on her, however they keep saying the are going to do it but haven’t. I had a meeting with the principal, counselor, and child psychologist yesterday about her and my son, who is in 1st grade and doing very poorly, I might add. Needless to say I left crying because they told me that they would test my daughter within 60 days. That’s at the end of the year, so does this mean that they will put her in 5th grade?
As far as my son goes, they told me that there was “a significant deficit in his numbers” and that he needed to be tested for a learning disability as well, but they cannot get to him until next year! They said they will go ahead and pass him, but he will have to be in a modified program until they can get the testing done.
I left the school in tears, they made it sound as if I don’t help my children at home! I am always at home in the evening with them and I am at home on the weekends with them. Often we are up until 10 to 11 o’clock at night doing homework. I help my children every night!
I am seriously thinking about homeschooling, but I am not sure where to start. It seems to me that the system is failing my children. I would like your thoughts and opinions and maybe some advice.
Thank You Very Much.
Sounds like your kids are “falling through the cracks.” Not demanding enough to get immediate attention, but not good enough to be ignored. You’ve tried to work through the system, and it is failing you. You are doing all the work of homeschooling, but doing it at night when everyone is tired and frazzled.
Often the methods used in public schools to suit groups of 28-32 kids just won’t work for some kids. Your kids may just not learn well in large group settings. Often when kids are brought home, parents will notice a renewed interest in life and learning in their kids within a few weeks. That “learning disability” turns out to have been a “schooling disability!”
For school-wounded families, I often recommend that they start out using the Charlotte Mason method, revised to accommodate family interests. The Charlotte Mason method recommends that you spend part of each day outside observing in a natural setting. Spring is such a nice time to do this in most parts of the country, or bundle up and learn to love the rain or snow! Have the kids collaborate on a journal of what they’ve noticed each trip and what questions have come up. let nature help heal the insecurities they are feeling right now from the labels the school has put on them.
While you are out walking, compare winter to being in school and spring to “getting sprung.” Talk about what things the children would like to learn about or learn to do. Take notes. Brainstorm with your husband about what you can afford to do to help your children’s dreams come true. The first thing everyone needs to learn is that from now on YOU are in control of your own learning experiences. This is rather frightening at first. Self esteem needs to be built up, in you as well as your children. Your project, for now, is to bone up about homeschooling. Lots to read on my site!
Take about a month for your kids to find their first self-directed learning project. For the littlest one, it may be just to learn to tie his shoes or learn to whistle or blow bubble gum. That’s OK. Your middle child may just want to learn how to train the dog to do new tricks. Your eldest may want to build a huge model city or master a computer game. The point is to mentor them, to guide them to chose more and more challenging projects.
“But how will they learn the basics?” You ask.
Each and every project will involved some reading and math, and often a science and one of the social sciences as well. They will learn cooperation and problem solving and a whole lot of higher order thinking skills that they don’t have time to teach in public school.
Have fun with this! Fit learning into your family lifestyle. If you are “artsy craftsy,” then build your studies around arts. If you are athletic, build it around physical fitness. If you’d all rather be traveling, fine! If you’d rather be mostly at home and doing things in your community, then do things with your church or recreation department or scout or 4H group. You have the internet, so let the kids that enjoy the computer use it for some of their learning.
Schools are trying to be more like homeschools! No kidding! Ever heard of “magnet schools?” These are schools all focusing on one area of study, say fine arts or computer science. Some are having groups of children ages 5-8 stay with one teacher until 4th grade in a room that is designed to look like a home living room and kitchen!
You CAN do this! I don’t know why under-30 teachers with no kids of their own think that with one year of education school and a year or two in the classroom suddenly think they really understand children and families!
Do look through the links that apply to you on the Beginning to Homeschool Directory.
In most states you may begin homeschooling whenever you want. Do checkyour state’s legal requirements.