The homeschool year is in full swing, here at Hall Manor. Already looking forward to that last day. Here, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are required to document a minimum of 180 days. As of Friday, August 24, 2012, we have already completed twenty-one of those 180 days, and this doesn’t include time spent working on math and reading during the summer. My son is annoyed over those days not being included, but I reminded him of all the time he wasted while we worked, so I didn’t include these days.
Educating and ADHD child is challenging, to say the least; coupling it with ODD, along with a few other behavioral issues, take it to a new level. I taught in a school with children who had behavior issues, and I realize the challenges in teaching kids like this. People want to pigeon hole these kids into various behavior categories and give them alternative placement, but it’s not what they need. They truly require individualized instruction, which our traditional school systems are not equipped to handle. I can understand and appreciate this as one who is from the business world. Yes folks, I have an MS in Human Resource Management, paid for by my former employer who is one of the significant players in telecommunications in this ever-expanding/evolving global economy.
I am convinced that homeschooling is the best way for children like my son to learn. They require a very individualized learning plan that allows them the freedom to learn at his pace. Our goal, my wife and mine, is to eventually get him mainstreamed to the point that he can learn in a corporate environment (college), but I am not convinced that institutionalized pre-college education, i.e., the public and private school system for his grade level, is not equipped to do so.
I am familiar with the myriad of arguments against homeschooling. I’m a Pennsylvania certified teacher and I heard most of them while working toward that certification. I agreed with many of the common arguments, but I never suspected that a few short years later that I would be a homeschooling, stay-at-home father.
The irony is found in the argument that most homeschool parents are ill-equipped to educate their children. The fact in my case is that the two private schools, the charter school and the “well-equipped” public schools were not able to handle many of his needs. I have a very intelligent son who learns at a far more rapid pace than most of his peers. When in traditional school, because he had to wait for the rest of the class to grasp the subject he already mastered, he zoned out. While zoning out, the class often went on to the next topic, resulting in him missing this new information. This resulted in him getting frustrated and hating the school environment.
At the beginning of his final year in institutionalized education, he tested high, but his standardized test scores in April of that year showed him to drop below meeting the requirements. I later learned that his teacher promised to give him computer time if he finished the test early. Really?
I homeschooled him last year, after these results. He began the year grade four, yet when tested in April of that year, scored grade five for that point in the year. Learning at his pace yielded great dividends, because like most homeschooling parents who take their children’s education seriously, I did the requisite research to deliver a rich educational environment that allowed him to not only thrive, but to excel. This was not because of my teacher certification, as my certification is for secondary education, below my son’s grade level. It was because I took the time to find what he needed and deliver it.
I am more than familiar with the circumstances that prevent parents from homeschooling their children. I live it everyday. My wife works three jobs so that we can do this, because it is what’s best for him. So while I look forward to day 180, I continually remind myself of why I am doing this.