Friday, May 14, 2010

On the Precipice

I feel as though I am leaning precariously over a great abyss. This abyss is the emptiness that we will fill if we unschool our son next year.

Beautiful, gentle, introspective Z is having a difficult time in school. Don't get me wrong, he loves to learn, and reads constantly (I catch mysefl saying things like: "Put the book down and eat"). We have struggled for three years now trying to get him what he needs in the system. He scores exceedingly well on tests, aces work that interests him, and can't start work that he finds dull. He gets caught surrepticiously reading when he should be doing worksheets. When asked to do a little open-ended project, he imagines this great ambitious project - too complex to really complete, then gets lost in implementation.

His teachers have trouble trying to help him. His primary teacher this year clearly thinks he is being lazy. We've tried to point out that, if he had dyslexia, she'd help him read. Helping a child with attentional issues get organized and start is the same thing. She is not a believer.

The school refuses to formally identify his needs or put an IEP in place. He is gifted, does well on tests, aces the work he does hand in - what's the problem? Except, he only hands in a fraction of the work, much of that done at home with our nagging, cajoling, and surrendering positive family time to get it done.

So, while working full-time in a college, and doing everything else, I am planning to (probably?) homeschool/unschool him next year in a corner of my office.

Am I insane?

My planned curriculum is to let him do what he loves most (learn and read, about anything and everything), do some structured math stuff, write both creatively (comic book, maybe) and reflectively (a journal reflecting on his readings), and explore.

Will this work?

This great, gaping hole stands in front of us, for me to help him fill.

1 comment:

J. said...

You are not insane. This describes my child. What you seem to have a a highly gifted creative kid with focus issues.

Best advice I can give you is to get out before more harm is done. We too tried to get services for years and were denied. It boggles my mind how unaware teachers and school officials are of 2e, even after all the research out there.

I had the same battles. I didn't take her out soon enough. And then I put her back in for high school.

The other day, my senior daughter said to me, after turning in a masterpiece a day late: "If I had finished the column on time but the writing was weak, I wouldn't be branded as lazy. The teachers would see I have a problem and likely help me. But when I turn something in late, the teachers don't see, even after we've told them repeatedly I have ADD, how hard it is for me to get organized and get it done. They don't see that as a weakness that requires intervention, they see it as a character flaw."

I'm not too worried about this kid. When she can articulate her issues with such clarity, I have far more faith in her than the teachers who supposedly serve her each day.