After a long and difficult process of sleepless nights and agonizing, after long talks with my husband, we’ve decided to jump the public school ship for our youngest son next year. Monkey will turn 5 just a few weeks before the school year starts. Many parents opt for “red-shirting” (which is holding a child back a year). My husband is in agreement that despite our youngest son’s academic readiness, a 7 hour school day complete with a HUGE class size is too much for our little guy to handle at this point.
Monkey’s IEP points to auditory processing delays, and a traditional classroom relies HEAVILY on that learning modality. My husband’s reasoning for Monkey to school at home is different than mine: he was the youngest in his class and he felt that put him at a disadvantage. I don’t think a traditional classroom will serve Monkey well. It’s a square peg meets round hole situation. He’s the type of kid who teaches himself. Like he did to read. By himself. Through fairy dust and osmosis.
Red-shirting means many things for the “young 5s”, especially boys who typically need more time in the realm of social-emotional development. CPS frowns down upon red-shirting, and will simply sort kids Harry Potter style by age, without any regard for anything OTHER than age. As it stands, we are keeping Monkey out of public school. Period.
The kicker as of right now? Moose will stay in his autism program under “flex-hours” to fit his afternoon therapy schedule.
So, one son is homeschooled, rather the PC term is “home educated”. The other son is still in school.
I finally got around to reading a book I meant to read a decade ago when I was finishing my master’s degree in education. A book called Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto. And wow. Just wow.
So true. The best education is the one you give yourself. You can pay for fancy private schools. High-priced tutors. But, no school or teacher can give you an “education”. Autism has given me MORE of an education than either of my degrees. I’ve learned more blogging than I did in college.
Life is education. School is schooling.
About “schools” here in Chicago:
Class sizes in our CPS schools are between 35-37 kids in kindergarten. Moose’s kinder only has 10 kids with a superb teacher and two aides. For Monkey, he will be thrown in huge class with a pared down IEP. Monkey is already reading.
So while most kindergarten teachers are spending times on letter sounds and easy preprimer sight words…my son already has that down. So, what do you get when you put a bored kid with a few sensory issues in a huge class size with tons of distractions?
A recipe for disaster.
I’m not stupid. I have been there. Done that. Have the tee-shirt.
As a former teacher, I know how little time is spent on personalized instruction when you have a class size that HUGE. An IEP says one thing, but true differentiation of instruction is a unicorn. It only happens in a 1:1 setting. So, what, 20 minutes a day in a guided reading group? Will that really challenge my son?
I’m not saying that teachers are incompetent, by NO means. Teachers works their asses off. They are just given the impossible task of differentiating instruction in a system that is beyond broken.
I want more than that for my children. Moose’s situation as it stands, is a good one. For now. After 2nd grade, in two years, we will face the same choice for him.
Outside the public school system, the schools don’t fare much better. Montessori would be ideal, but the tuition is more than my mortgage. No joke. For Monkey, private school tuition ranges from 5-6K a year in the Catholic school to upwards of 20K a year for Montessori and other private schools. That’s a lot to chew, when I know I can do a better job with Monkey.
I know exactly his weaknesses and his strengths.
Sure, I know it will be hell at first.
Just like when I was 25 years old teaching on the west side of Chicago.
But you adjust and make do.
Monkey is a strong-willed and rather gifted kid who wants to do everything on his own terms.
So, starting this summer, expect to see more homeschooling come about here.