I’ve realized that on this blog I have not gone into detail regarding our school experience. I don’t have any cool pictures to break up text or illustrate points. It’s just our story.
In August of 2012 I started homeschooling my oldest through a charter school in California. It was an amazing deal! The school paid for all of our non religious curriculum, they held an amazing set of workshops that prepared me as a mom and teacher, and they had a specialist who helped me wade through curriculum options. The down side was that I was still doing school at home, not home school.
I tried so hard to create a classroom and work within the boundaries of what I knew or felt comfortable doing that I didn’t even take my sons learning styles into consideration. With my husband deployed, anger management issues related to the deployment and the stress of trying to force my son to do sit down work for a few hours broke us down!
I couldn’t handle any of it. I felt like such a failure as a mom as I enrolled my son into our local public school. I was apprehensive about thrusting him into a class but he had started begging me daily to let him go back to real school. It was late October. About 3 weeks before Halloween and we had just received orders to move cross country in less than 60 days (about a week after daddy was scheduled to come home).
I am sorry to say that we were every teachers worst nightmare.
A new kid filled with energy and quirks. Always asking questions. Always moving.
The problems only got worse. At first he loved school. He was excited to be there. But three weeks later I was getting phone calls from his principal. He was manipulating his teachers words. Blurting out questions during rug time. He could not sit still. He refused to do the work. When he didn’t get his way, or his perfectionism wasn’t catered to he had meltdowns. Not even one month into school and he had been expelled twice. In kindergarten.
I spoke to his teacher about the issues. I was worried that he might be bored. He was reading at a second grade level going in and already understanding addition concepts but his class was learning letter recognition and counting to 10. She said that she would try to help him but with his behavior issues and 32 other kids in the classroom who needed to learn this material it was easier to let him do his own thing in centers.
I was very worried but also very understanding. 32 kids with an aid for only one hour a day and my problem kid as only one of a few kids with issues is a lot for a teacher to handle! Most couldn’t do it. I know that. I knew that. So I went to the principal to see what our options were. I recognized that time was an issue, we were only going to be there for about one more month. But something had to be done and homeschooling was already too much for me.
I asked about testing him to see if he was on the ASD spectrum, Aspergers or if he was gifted. The school told me they didn’t have the resources to do that and that I would need to go through my insurance. So I called our pediatrician, Tricare and anyone who might be able to help. I found a local psychologist who worked with gifted and special needs kids and my insurance. I was told that Tricare would not cover her services and that I would need to pay over $200 just to find out what was going on. She also told me that the school district was lying to me.
I went back to the district with my findings only to be told several sad things.
1. It takes 6-9 months to get that kind of paperwork going and because we would be moving to Maryland they would not even begin it.
2. With three weeks left before thanksgiving break and Daddy’s return, our son was no longer “their problem” so the school was giving up.
3. That in over 30 years of teaching his teacher had never had a student as badly behaved as my son.
To this day I have no idea if the problems were deployment issues from almost a year of not having daddy around or if they were caused by something else. It should not matter. We were attending a school located on a Military base where half of the population was consistently deployed. We were assured that all the teachers had been trained specifically regarding deployment issues. Still we ended up taking our son out of school during Thanksgiving Break with no hope.
I was a mess. He was a mess. He hated school. He hated homeschool. He was five and at his wits ends. He no longer liked to read. He no longer asked questions. His playtime was confined to his imagination, his sisters or his one friend.
We said goodbye to our new family, our beloved house and drove cross country.
I enrolled our son in his new school. I was so scared that this school would be the same or worse. I spoke to the new principal about my apprehensions. I told her that he needed a teacher who could be strict yet still fun. He needed someone who would not give up on him. I reassured her that daddy would not be deploying and that maybe his behavior would not be as bad as before. I told her that I would work with his teacher and do anything needed to fix his issues.
The school quickly tested his reading and made appropriate moves to get him into a reading group with other early readers. His new teacher was a blessing and gift!
She cares! She challenges him! She asks him questions to get him thinking further! While the other kids are doing rainbow sight words she made it harder and told him he needed to spell his sight words! The school has a STEM program that engages him! After what we went through before its like heaven!!!
There have been 0 incidents. No meltdowns. The first 2 weeks were normal getting used to classroom rules issues and then he learned that he couldn’t manipulate his environment and he started thriving! He asks questions, and she encourages him!
Seriously, night and day differences.
It’s been a blessing and a journey!