How Public School Ruined Our First Day of Homeschool
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Today was the day! The very first day of homeschool for my 10yr old daughter. We have been talking about this day for 6 months. She has been completely involved in helping decide what she will be learning. She picked the stories we would read, the social studies subjects we would focus on. We discussed a staggered start and I talked till I was blue in the face about work load and how just because we are at home doesn’t mean she is getting a free pass on school work. She agreed! She was excited to get away from the bullying, excited to be at home where she could express her individuality!
Then today happened…
She had just gotten through the first page of our first subject for the day (reading). She started searching through the book looking for the end of the story, gave a loud sigh, and said “I don’t want to do this”. FIVE MINUTES! That’s how long my perfectly planned, stress-free homeschool experience lasted.
I was so frustrated! Didn’t she know how much time I had spent planning her whole schedule for the year. Did she not care about all the money I had spent to give her this opportunity? Was this her way of telling me she didn’t respect my authority?
No. It wasn’t any of that. In fact, it had nothing to do with me all at.
As I lay in bed tonight reflecting on how it all went wrong, I realized something. For the last 6 years my daughter has had her individuality squashed. She has been compared to children who were not fighting an invisible disease. My extremely intelligent daughter was told she was inferior, because she could not sit for 4 hours a day and concentrate on a “standardized” test. In public school, she was snickered at by her peers when she was forced to read aloud. There was criticism at every turn. Her looks, beliefs, intelligence, and even her personality were attacked daily. So today, when I sat her down to read aloud, she panicked.
Later, after I got her calmed down, she told me she felt like she was stupid. That I would think less of her when she stuttered over words. I was heartbroken. How strong she had pretended to be. For years she went through the motions, pretending she was thriving at school. Sure, there were some bad days, but wasn’t that normal? We had talked about how special she was, and how test grades meant nothing in the long run. We talked about how kids just didn’t understand “different”. She had always assured me that it didn’t bother her, but as she broke down in my arms, I saw the pain she had been harboring.
Tomorrow will be different. She won’t have a checklist of work to be completed. There will be confidence building, and more “great jobs” than I can count. We have a long way to go before she is back on “grade level”, but we won’t rush. Unlike public school, the goal isn’t a good grade on a test at the end of the chapter. The goal is a well-rounded, confident, and joyful person. The goal is an educated child, not a cookie-cutter child.
Note: I do not dislike public education. I have three children, and only one is currently being homeschooled. I do however, believe that it is not for every child.