We’ve owned this domain for years. Even had about a year’s worth of blog posts up, detailing our efforts to teach our then kindergartener.
Said kindergartener is now ten years old and just finishing up grade four in the local (Belgian) school. It was a difficult decision, putting him in school, but at that time the need to be fluent in French trumped all else. My French is pretty good – better and better every year – but I’m not fluent. He is.
L is doing… fine in public school. Better than fine, I suppose. He’s at the top of his class. Even with the teaching being in his second language, he rarely bats an eye over the work. It’s easy for him. Therein lies problem number one. Or rather, problem number two, as his younger brother is really the reason for us dusting off the old blog. But I’ll get there. Anyway, L is, in my opinion, completely unchallenged by the schoolwork he is given. And there seems to be no encouragement to do more: there are no library books coming home weekly from school, no extra assignments or challenges or enrichment activities. While he’s waiting for the others in the class to catch up, he sits. He takes books from home to fill the empty time, but since doing nothing is perfectly acceptable, more often than not that is exactly what he does. Nothing.
L’s younger brother, H, is just finishing first grade. It has been a hard, hard year. I’ll rant on about this in later posts, but suffice it to say H did NOT draw the golden ticket when it came to teachers. Academically, he’s doing fine. Emotionally, he’s a wreck. He thinks (and says) that he is stupid and the worst boy in the class. The teacher complains about his behavior every time we interact – he looks out the window, he hums while he does his work, he fidgets in his seat, he doesn’t want to do his work. In my opinion this is pretty standard six year old boy behavior, but she expects a different standard. My fears about my kid being “the problem” have been greatly alleviated by speaking with the other parents, all of whom have had extremely negative comments from this teacher as well. Regardless, H has gone from being excited about the coming school year and wanting to please his teacher to thinking he’s stupid and not caring one iota. He has told me, “If I do my work, but make mistakes, she yells at me. If I do nothing at all, she yells at me. Why should I do anything if she’s going to yell at me no matter what?”
It’s been a rough year, and I’ve contemplated pulling him out and homeschooling him about a dozen times over the school year. The clincher came about two weeks ago, when I received this stunning bit of news: H’s teacher would be moving from the first grade to the second with her class. Parent requests for a different teacher are not accepted.
That made the decision simple, really. H can’t take, I can’t take, another year with this teacher. The stress is unbearable. Frankly, I don’t think a different teacher would help at this point. He has such a negative opinion of school and of himself as a student at the moment, I feel he needs a complete reset. So that’s what we’re going to give him. A complete reset.
So, for H, the decision was made. Homeschool. But what about L? He was, as I said, doing fine. Yes, he’d probably do better, go further, be more engaged if he was home, working at his own pace and pursuing his own interests, but he was fine. Except that fine isn’t the education I envisioned for my son. And so, for L as well, the decision has been made. Homeschool.
There is a third reason – let’s call it logistical – but that isn’t something we’re ready to share publicly just yet.
So, that’s the why of our homeschooling story. Next step? Cementing the how.