I’ll give you my (non) answer up front: not sure. Maybe. Unclear at this point. Up until this school year, logistically impossible. Thinking I probably need to have my head examined for it…and yet, pretty sure it’ll be sooner rather than later that I homeschool my ADHD kiddo.
Here’s my situation in a nutshell: Up until this past June I was a school librarian at a local elementary school. I’ve been working in schools for about 15 years. I’ve worked at all levels and have been both a classroom teacher and a specialist. I loved my job – the kids! The books! Storytime! Computers! But didn’t love the extremely long hours, the poor pay (I live and work in North Carolina – ‘nuff said) and the increasing emphasis on testing, testing, testing and the micromanagement of school staff by the power-that-be. And while this won’t affect me because I’ve left the profession, I’m also really worried about how pay-for-performance is going to impact my children’s teachers. I can’t help but think there’s going to be a mass defection from teaching in a couple of years (a whole ‘nother blog post or blog, that), not to mention the impact on classroom size and student-teacher ratio as budgets continue to be slashed.
Things have really changed over the past 20 years in schools (I took several years off to stay home so there’s a gap in there of 5 years), and not necessarily for the better (again, a whole ‘nother blog or blog post). Suffice it to say that there is a lot less fun, autonomy, and creativity in schools now than when I started. This, despite the very best efforts of great teachers (I never, ever, ever dog teachers! Except for ones that have been bad to my baby, but that’s another story). Anyway, although I thought the school in which I worked was filled with many talented and hard-working people, there are some essential flaws in the system that disheartened me.
In the end, I didn’t quit my job because I was unhappy with the institution, I quit my job because I needed to work more with our family’s business and provide more balance for our household, including the ever-increasing stressful situation that is my ADHD+PDD child, LittleJ.
Here’s LittleJ’s situation in a nutshell: He is in 2nd grade and after a wonderful kindergarten year (and by wonderful I mean he had a great teacher – not that all things went wonderfully), a not-so-great 1st grade year, he is now in a great classroom with a wonderful, experienced, knowledgeable teacher and a teacher’s assistant who is also knowledgeable and experienced, as well as stern (love that for LittleJ) and glamorous (glitter eyeshadow, anyone?). Their classroom is calm, the children well behaved, organization and timeliness rules, and all grown-ups in the classroom are kind and patient.
But still, LittleJ has gone to the principal’s office 2 times already and his seat is removed from the cluster of desks where the rest of the children sit. Neither of which are unwarranted, given his set of issues, but neither of which are ideal. He is learning his 2nd grade skills but the “N”s (for NOT satisfactory) on the behavior part of his first report card far outweighed the “S”s. He doesn’t like school, gets a little panicked when confronted with worksheets with lots of text, and told me he hates recess because no one plays with him.
It breaks a mama’s heart!
A recent decision to send him out of the room for the first hour of the day to stare at a wall in another classroom (a holding tank, really) both excited me (because FINALLY this school is trying to do something with my child) and upset me (for obvious reasons) kind of iced the cake for me and my husband. We “solved” this by changing when he first gets his medication (we now get up at 5 a.m. to give it to him a good 3 hours before school starts) and then giving him a second dose later, but we’re certainly not convinced that doubling his already high dose of stimulants is a good answer for him in the long run. He is “under control” enough to be in a regular classroom. But he’s getting a really, really, really high dose of meds and in the past this high a dose has eventually brought his mood way down. And he’s also stopped eating. No appetite. It will get him through the day but I don’t think either we or he will be able to sustain the dosage.
This has been a really long post to explain/defend/justify WHY I am even thinking about this option for my kid. Not sure why I feel so strongly that I need to explain/defend/justify doing it. I know homeschooling is a good option for him, there’s a decent-sized secular homeschooling community around here (because we’d not be doing it for religious reasons), and I know I’m perfectly well-qualified to do it. But it also seems really out of the norm. And it also seems really, really potentially draining. But also potentially freeing.
What if I homeschooled my child and he got excited about learning about the world? What if he gained confidence? What if he became more curious? What if he was joyful once again? All possibilities.
But what if in homeschooling my child I lost any bit of time for myself that I’ve managed to carve out of my day? After leaving a structured work environment 5 months ago I finally feel like I’ve caught up with all the things I neglected when I worked full time out of the home. What if he hated it? Hated me? Worse, what if he didn’t learn?
Aaagh! What to do? What would you do? What have you done?
I may have to homeschool. It’s probably in the best interest of my child. But perhaps not in the best interest of me.
Related posts: adhd and homeschooling, adhd and school, adhd behavior problems, Adrienne Bashista