Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Great Public School Experiment

Two weeks before school started, Xavier decided he wanted to try school. We've always left it up to the kids whether they homeschooled. So, off we trundled to get all the necessary documentation to get the boy in school. Suddenly, Dominic decided he would like to try it out as well. The document gathering started in earnest.

After some consultation with Gary, my mother, my sister, and a dear friend I've never met, we decided that the best place for Xavier would be middle school. Xavier is advanced in math (he would be starting Algebra 1 this year if he were to continue homeschooling) and all his other subjects are firmly advanced. I had no trouble deciding to 'skip' him a grade. My only trouble was the knowledge that while Xavier is advanced, he also has learning disabilities. Unfortunately, we don't have formal diagnosis of these, so we knew going into it that the school would balk.

When I took the school counselor examples of Xavier's work, I attempted to talk to her, and show her the differences between his written work and his typed work. She refused to listen. To be honest, I was only trying to head off some of the difficulties Xavier was likely to encounter. I want him to succeed. I know that he will succeed better if he is given the tools he needs to succeed. At home, this meant allowing him to type most of his assignments, while working on his handwriting separately. At school, this means needing some method of taking notes that does not rely on handwritten work. 

Today, I find out that he went to visit the counselor at the behest of his Social Studies teacher. The teacher walked him to the counselor and discussed his need for more time to be able to take notes. Hmmm... Imagine a mother knowing what she was talking about. Did I get a phone call to discuss this? No. Xavier was given time to calm down (apparently he had gotten quite upset at being able to keep up with note taking), and sent back to class.

Xavier is experiencing a lot of frustration in his inability to keep up with note taking. I find it ironic that something so innocuous, and something that will not be a necessary evil in the future (he will be able to type all future note taking- for the most part), could keep a child earthbound who is determined to soar.

I am frustrated because I know this will be a long hard battle. We are in the process of getting a formal diagnosis. Had I known earlier he would return to school, I could have made sure the diagnosis and recommendations were in place. Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of heads up. I will say, though, that I am not questioning my decision to put him in 6th grade. I think it was the best decision I could have made. I am only questioning my sanity in allowing myself to slough through the bureaucracy that is the public school system. I am also questioning the idea of allowing a system that thinks all children should fit in one of three holes control over my child's education. After all, they have come to recognize that some children have learning disabilities, some are 'normal', and some are gifted. Too bad they can't recognize that you can be more star shaped, or perhaps a square connected to a circle. Unfortunately, most children are not nice, neat circles or squares.

Dominic, on the other hand, is thriving. He loves school. He can't wait for the next day to come so he can return to school. I'm not sure if this is a reaction to the novelty, or just that he has the opportunity to be out from under his brothers' collective shadow. I just know he is enjoying school. I am so happy for him.


  1. My little neighbor has been in school for a whole two weeks now and she's already over it. Her little sister starts on Monday and she's less than enthused now, too. School just breaks them down. :-(

  2. It's over $100, but check out the Echo pen which records lectures while you take notes. You can play back the part of the audio related to the note you take. My husband's OT clinic has them for wounded warriors who need extra help with remembering things (due to medication or brain injuries).

  3. Hi Kristina, I saw your comments at and thought I'd pop in to say hi. I'm an overworked atheist mom of 3 with dreams (probably unrealistic ones) of homeschooling. We live in Prospect.

    I just wanted to reach out and "touch" someone who is (or until recently was) a secular homeschooler. Glad to know such a thing exists here!

  4. Michelle,
    I'm working on the Echo pen for him. I may very well just go over their heads and get it. They're being very slow on their response. In the meantime, we're going through the proper channels, our ped, to get him tested. It's a good thing I went to her so quickly. She gave me a lot of tips for dealing with the school, and is even willing to get involved. Yay!

  5. Bronwyn,
    You must email me. I live quite close to you, and I'm still homeschooling our oldest. Quite frankly, I'll probably be homeschooling the middle one soon too. I'd love to get to know you!


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