Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Will She Let Me Try?

G asked me today how I could teach two children at home. I gave an example of a typical math class. The first 20 minutes (after children are settled down and attentive) are spent on the mini-lesson, introducing, reviewing or reinforcing the concept being learned. Then about 15 to 20 minutes are spent on classwork and then the homework is introduced and the directions reviewed. During this time the teacher has to meet the needs of approximately 20 children who are all at different stages of understanding. Some “get it” some don’t and some just “get” enough to “get by”.

The beauty of learning at home is that there is no need for a mini-lesson that meets so many different learning styles and needs. I can focus only on G and when she is working independently, shift my focus to L. They would both do math at the same time. Perhaps it would be the same concept with very different independent work or it may be totally different concepts. I know that L needs to review math. Not only does she profess to hate it, she does not have enough of a working knowledge of place value and money to apply the algorithm of subtraction. During the money unit, she was taught adding money at the same time as making change. The teacher moved on to the next unit before she had solidified her understanding.

I can take as much time as necessary to ensure sure she has a base knowledge since there are no other children, no distractions that are not of our making, and no time constraints to move through a prescribed set of units per making period. That is how I can teach two children at the same time. I wonder if she will let me try?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Social and Socialization are two very different words:

Social - relating to pleasant companionship

Socialize - adapt to social needs, participate in a social gathering.

Source: Webster’s New Dictionary.

My daughter is a social child. I enjoy every moment I spend with L. She is lively, vivacious, and humorous. Her wit is sharp and intelligent. Often, her humor goes unnoticed by other children but makes an impression on adults in her company. She is generous, giving much of her time making gifts of art and poetry for those she loves. She is an avid reader and enjoys discussing the books she reads. L participates in her weekly Sunday school class with 15 other children. She has participated in church groups and last year sung in the children’s choir at a monthly mass. She has attended dance lessons, performed in two recitals and a Christmas Pageant. She takes piano lessons and recently performed in her first piano recital.

L is a social child. Within all these groups she is also a socialized child.

I do not agree with the opinion that removing a child from school will impair their ability to be social. It is only in school where L is not able to adapt to the needs of the situation. Perhaps this is because she is not comfortable in this environment for 7 hours a day. There are many reasons that cause her discomfort but it is the discomfort that prevents her from being herself. In school she buries her personality deep within. She becomes shy and withdrawn. She speaks in a whisper. During spring conferences last year, her first grade teacher shared that L was finally starting to participate in class. Her teachers and classmates have never seen the side of L that our friends and family outside of school see. She holds all her energy inside and saves it until she is comfortable, until Friday at 3:00 p.m.. In my opinion, school is impairing her socialization.

As part of her learning at home, L has joined a group that meets weekly at a local community center. She readily made new friends and enjoys playing cards and creating art with them. She has signed up for a pottery class at an art school in New Haven and is continuing her piano lessons. Her Sunday school class will continue and she hopes to participate in the Kids Forum that will be held in January and either recite a poem or play a song on the piano.

I believe that removing L from school will be the best thing I can do for her “socialization”.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Before sending my certified letter of withdrawal, I was encouraged to join a legal defense fund. I chose to join HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Fund) www.hslda.org. For a yearly membership fee, families are provided with legal advise and if needed, legal representation. I equate it to an insurance policy. Hopefully I would not face opposition from my school district, but a plan would be in place should the need arise. As part of my research, I found that my district has no documented record of hostility towards homeschooling families.

Today I placed my first call for advice. The Board of Education sent me a letter acknowledging my letter of withdrawal. Rather than complying with my stated date of 12/24/09, they made her withdrawal effective immediately. By the time I got to the office of my daughter’s school, she had already been removed from the office computer records. I explained that an error had been made on their part and my letter was not adhered to. I stated that my daughter would be continuing on as an enrolled student until the stated date. Then I went home to wait for the Superintendent to return my phone call. While waiting, I placed the call to HSLDA for advice. The assistant I spoke with explained this is very unusual and it is technically not a legal matter for my daughter is enrolled until the date I stated on my original letter. Shortly after my conversation ended, the Superintendent returned my call. She explained an error must have been made and of course L can continue as requested until the 24th.

I am thankful that I was referred to the HSLDA. The peace of mind they were able to give me as I navigate my way through this process is well worth the fee to join.

Expect glitches.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Journey

When my child was having ear problems that the family physician could not regulate, I took her to a specialist. When the specialist could not determine the cause of her ear pain, I was perplexed. What do you do when the specialist can’t solve the problem? You keep trying. By chance when L was at her sister’s orthodontist appointment, I asked for a consultation. Upon inserting his pinky fingers into L’s ears and feeling the bones in her jaw move as she opened and closed her mouth, he asked me if she ever experienced ear pain. She was experiencing pain daily. He said he understood why and set about to correct the alignment of her jaw that was causing pressure on her eustachian tubes. Within a week she felt relief.

It should not be a surprise to many that since L has been experiencing prolonged emotional difficulty in school, I have tried to solve the problem. I have spoken to teachers, set up play dates, prompted her to make conversations and at times acted as her mouthpiece. I have made teachers aware of her academic ability that she hides behind her shy demeanor. I have scheduled extra conferences to check in on her social/emotional development in school. Despite my efforts, she continues to experience stomach pain in the morning, extreme sadness during the week and general malaise from Monday through Friday. Her lunch box comes home empty, she cries her way through homework and longs to curl up in bed with a book and her stuffed animals. She tells me her day is just too long and she misses me. She cries in her sleep. These are not new behaviors. This has been ongoing for the past three years.

As her Mother, I will do whatever it takes to make her happy, healthy and safe. I am removing her from school and bringing her home to learn with me in an environment that she feels comfortable in. I was prepared for varying reactions from friends and acquaintances when I share this news. I knew to expect reactions ranging from disbelief to disdain. I am intrigued by the nature of other’s responses to the act of removing a child from public school. If I am acting in my child’s best interest, acting as their advocate because they are too young to navigate their way out of emotional distress, how is this any different and why should it be judged any differently than taking my child to medical specialist until the root of the problem is discovered and the discomfort is alleviated?

Our adventure will begin after the Christmas break. I have tried to find other blogs written about the first year of homeschooling. I hope to share my experience of removing my 7 year old child from public school and bringing her home to give her a Classical Education. I am full of expectations.

Expect relief.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...