I mentioned in my last post that I would discuss our decision to pull Aidan out of the private school we’d found here on Island & begin homeschooling her. Believe me, it was not an easy decision. No decision about your child’s education should be an easy one.
When we arrived on Island in October 2012, we knew that deciding where Aidan would attend school would be a difficult decision. Hawaii Public Schools are ranked well below the national average for math & science and it seems as if no one is all that interested in fixing things. There are a large number of secular and parochial private schools on Oahu to give parents the option of sending their children to one of them rather than to a sub-standard public school (I won’t get into the cycle that creates…THAT’S a whole different ball of wax unto itself!)
We also knew that whatever school we chose for her, this would be the seventh school she would attend in as many years. It’s rough being a military kid, being drug from stem to stern (to use a Navy term). I knew she was getting burnt out on the whole thing so finding a place that would excite her again was paramount.
Ryan was still in-processing, we still only had the one rental car, so after we dropped him off, Aidan & I went exploring to check out the area around Schofield Barracks. We happened to pass a Lutheran Church & School with a “Now Enrolling” sign out front. Ryan attended Lutheran Schools & he loved his experience there so I thought it was worth it to look into this one for Aidan. As it turned out, this Lutheran Church was the same denomination as the one we belong to (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), the second grade teacher was very big into art, incorporated it into almost everything she did and they were always looking for parents who could substitute. It seemed like the perfect fit for us. A school for Aidan, a job for me and a church home for us.
We got Aidan enrolled and I made sure to denote anywhere I could on the forms that she has ADHD, hyperactivity/impulsivity dominant, so the teacher would be aware of what was going on with Aidan from the start. And, from almost the first day her teacher would either call or find me after school to talk to me about her behavior. She would make her sit out of recess as punishment, which is just the LAST thing you want to do with a hyperactive child, they need to run that energy out. She would call me during the day to tell me something Aidan was doing or had done, as if I could do anything about it. Aidan has difficulty filtering out what she needs to hear & listen to from background noises so in a loud classroom she just gets over-stimulated. I know this. I’ve known this for years. I worked in SPED & had several kids like this…it’s not a new concept. This teacher who’d been in the classroom for 30+ years acted like she’d never seen an ADHD child in her life. She shoved Aidan off to the side basically saying “I don’t have the time to devote to her” and just let her stagnate. But, if she acted out, you can bet that teacher was all over her like stink on poop.
After Thanksgiving, leading up towards Christmas, I got a long-term sub job there in the preschool class. I loved being at Aidan’s school & close to her anytime she needed it. We’d recently added a 2pm pill to her regimen to help prevent her afternoon crash & I was able to be the one there to coax her into taking it (she is NOT the greatest pill taker…thank God for the patch!). But, the only catch with the preschool subbing job was, I had to stay until 5-5:30 with the afterschool care group. They’d come to the room do their homework & talk quietly, then we’d go outside & play & then we go to the computer lab & wait for the last few kids to go home. Aidan, like her Army Officer daddy, thrives on routine & strict rules, this group was very loosey-goosey. The two definitely didn’t mix & unfortunately, she would act out. Whether it was yelling “Be quiet” during homework time or smacking kids on the playground, she just didn’t gel with this group. I can tell you this was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, trying to parent my child while watching 15-20 kids that I’m responsible for out on a playground. I’m lucky no one got hurt because I wasn’t doing a good job at either.
Shortly before Christmas, the principal & I decided that this wasn’t the best environment for her and to tell you the truth, I have to agree. I grew up loving school, I STILL love school & would go back for advanced degrees today if I could, but the longer she was there, the more she acted out & showed us that she hated the school & the environment she was in. I stepped back & thought about this as a teacher…is this really the least restrictive environment for this child? Is she getting an appropriate education (definitely not free, that one month she was there cost us over $1000)? And the answers to both those questions was a resounding NO. So, we withdrew her from the school and we began to research & discuss what to do for the spring & beyond.
Ryan & I both came to the same decision independently of one another…homeschooling. I’m a certified teacher for multiple grades in two states and who knows my child better than I do? No one. We would save a ton of money by not paying for school but only paying for curriculum, consumables, etc. I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous but once I put my mind to something, I’m all in…I want my girl to love school, love learning, love books, the way her daddy & I do. That was my mission.
We began the adventure in January and while it wasn’t without its hiccups, I must say, our first semester was an unqualified success. We originally started out using the “Five in A Row” Curriculum until I discovered that Aidan was getting bored with it. So, I sold FIAR & we spent the majority of the semester doing student-led unit studies. For example, Aidan LOVES LOVES LOVES kangaroos so when Australia Day was approaching, I culled the internet & put together an Australia Unit Study. When my parents, her grandparents, came to visit & we went to the Big Island to see Volcanoes National Park, we did a study on Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes & Seismology.
There is a large contingent of homeschoolers here on island and we run into them all the time in our extra-curricular classes. She took “Exploring Art” at the Honolulu Museum of Art Academy last semester & won a full scholarship for next fall. She also took a musical theatre class at the Diamond Head Theatre in Honolulu. We’re blessed that Hawaii embraces homeschooling & so many places offer classes for homeschoolers.
I never thought I’d be a homeschooling mom. I always pictured them with half a dozen kids or more, wearing a long denim skirt & hair in a bun…Michelle Duggar, I guess. But when push came to shove, I did what I needed to do for my girl. She really does love homeschooling & I can’t imagine not homeschooling her.