When I first began blogging about homeschooling, I distinctly remember issuing a statement that can be summarized as such, “I am not a homeschool pusher. There are many ways to achieve an education, homeschooling is merely one of the options. It’s a fit for some families and not for others for a variety of reasons and I respect everyone’s choices”. I was trying to remain neutral and thought this the best stance so as not to make anyone angry or sound like I know what is best for everyone, because I certainly do not and should not profess to. Plus, at the time, that feeling was authentic and true; that’s how I felt and made a blanket statement. Every parent or guardian has the right to choose how to go about educating a child scholastically and I did not draw the homeschool card often in people’s presence.
Now, with one crazy and wonderful year of homeschooling and oodles of research on homeschooling materials wrapped up and tucked in my pocket, I have noticed a bit of a zealot-woman lurking about my person, peeking out of the shadows to poke me – and frankly, she startles me! Who invited this banshee with the mouth? Well, not really a mouth, but let’s just say she has LOUD THOUGHTS now and then, thoughts that are hard to ignore and some almost make it past my tongue. I know better than to shout the loud thoughts out when she lets loose; I know how to utilize my built-in filters, thank you. Filters are lifesavers and should be heartily employed!
I struggled to reign in the banshee this weekend while visiting with a friend and talking about her son and some of the issues he struggled with during his most recent year of middle school. We are up in the mountains taking in some high altitude air this week and my dear friend and her boys came to spend the night and have some fun in the sun (which they did). Several times during the 24 hour period they were here my radar tuned in to a few statements that the child uttered and my internal alarms sounded. I ‘felt’ from this child that he is troubled about parts of his life and that he is beginning to see himself through the eyes of his peers, namely in a very negative way. His mom confessed that although his teachers have been supportive of him, he has not made any friends and that he is bullied verbally often by his classmates. Yes, his parents have addressed the bullying and have taken steps with the administration to get it to stop. This child was born quite prematurely (at 26 weeks, I think), and has continually struggled with learning disabilities and some other health issues. If you had the pleasure of spending any time with him, you would know that his heart is spun from gold and that he has much to offer and much to become. Some of the things he said while he was here helped me to realize that he is angry and hurting and scared and sad.
The banshee in me practically screeched “PULL THIS CHILD OUT OF SCHOOL IMMEDIATELY AND HOMESCHOOL HIM!!” After the filters were applied, it came out more like, “would you considered homeschooling him?” gently to his mom. Mom has been on board with that option for quite awhile and wants to do it; she and I have talked about it before. Dad is skeptical and probably feels that Mom is not up to the task; I’m not sure that Dad really understands how homeschooling can look – I think he may have preconceived notions about it based on stereotypes. Mom also said, “I don’t think we have the smarts to homeschool him”. At that point I grabbed my banshee, hog-tied her and sat on her, because she was really ramping up and I feared how strongly my words might come across. I said something like this - “oh, honey – you taught your child everything from the time he was a wee one – how to walk, how to tie his shoes, how to string words together into sentences, how to count, how to say his abc’s. You are more than capable of teaching him and working with him. You know him like no one else does and most importantly, you are tuned in to his needs.” And besides, the types of homeschool curricula that are available to middle schoolers are staggering. Most middle schoolers are at a point where they can work more independently and can probably engage in many online classes. His parents could hire a tutor for areas where he struggles. They can tailor his school work to his needs. Above all and most crucially, they can give him back what he needs right now, and that is an environment of total love and acceptance. Homeschooling him would put an end to the bullying and allow him space to find himself.
If I ran the world, this child should be homeschooled. It makes perfect sense to me and is such an amazing fit that it should not be overlooked. Should is a very strong word and is overused, but in this case I think it is warranted. The mom has asked for my support in approaching her husband as far as putting together some materials that she can present to him to start the conversation. I will unleash the banshee on this task and help Mom make a case to her husband, fully knowing that in the end they will choose as they see fit for their son. My line is right there and I can’t cross that boundary into their family. They have to do what is best for him and I’ll honor that. Got it.
This whole interaction this past weekend has served to crystallize my feelings about homeschooling, and I guess I’ve scaled them up a notch or two since I started blogging. Although, I still maintain a healthy level of respect for families who choose a more standard form of education as in public or private school systems, every now and then (as in yesterday), I see a child whose has a puzzle piece laying out there exposed, without the matching piece anywhere in sight. This child is open and vulnerable, not connected. Sometimes homeschooling is the corner piece that needs to be set into place to help stabilize a child’s world and allow him or her to blossom.
I’m also a ‘fixer’ and want to repair broken things – mostly hearts and injured animals, I guess. There is an elk up here that has been paying visits over the last few days. She looks to have broken her right foreleg and does not bear any weight on it; it hurts to watch her hobble back and forth up the hill and I wonder about her. None of her buddies seem to be hanging with her – she seems alone and I wonder if this is her choice or a herd choice, or if her being alone means nothing at all. The fixer in me wants to arrange to have her tranquilized and moved to a rehab center where she can heal and then be released again to live out her life. I wonder if that’s possible. Maybe I’ll call the DNR tomorrow and see if they think I’m crazy. Maybe it’s just nature’s way and I shouldn’t intervene. Years ago my husband hit a doe that ran out into the road. I was behind him and honked to try to get his attention so that he would see her careening down the hill toward him. He didn’t, they collided, and she flew quite a distance and landed on the other side of the road. I was out with her in a heartbeat and held her head in my lap to try to calm her down, hoping that it didn’t stress her out, but she was obviously in shock. I won’t tell you how the story ends because it wasn’t pretty, but her suffering did come to an end humanely. I so badly wanted to fix her and get her back to the meadow.
I feel a similar need to help ‘fix’ this situation with the middle shcooler and get him back on some positive feet. Homeschooling has set a strong precedent in similar situations for other families and children; may it do so here. Crossing fingers that Dad will give his nod of support so they can go about the business of helping to boost their son’s self esteem, but ultimately it's a decision that belongs to their family and not me.