My children have a job. Their job is to be a student. They are to go to school each and every day that school is open in order to get their education. It is this education that is going to allow them to be whatever they want to be in life. Education opens doors and in today's society you won't get very far without one. We are so very lucky to live in a Country where education is provided and is a right for each and every child. We have a local school which is less than a ten minute walk from our house.
My children are in grades 4 and 5 and are not getting the education that we send them to school for. How can this be in 2011? What gets in the way of learning each and everyday that my children attend school? The school is open, the teachers teach and the children attend everyday, they have their school supplies, text books, note books, pens and pencils. They are smart, creative, compassionate etc ... so it should be simple to learn right? Wrong
Quite simply a child cannot learn when they are afraid. When they are worried about what happened yesterday, when they worry about what will happen at recess and or lunch. Their minds are focused but not on what they are being taught. It causes a distraction that is hard to bypass. It interferes with sleep in the form of nightmares. What is the cause of this fear you ask. Bullying.
Bullying has changed my children. My youngest daughter was so severely bullied in Grade One that she developed a severe anxiety disorder. Our local children's mental health center said they had never seen a child so young with anxiety so severe. Her anxiety is a total body experience. We have worked very hard to deal with her anxiety and she has come a very long way. She is now able to do things in spite of the anxiety. She feels it, acknowledges it and then does things anyway. So very proud of her :) On top of that she has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Her teacher last year declared her unteachable without medication. The medication intervention was successful last year but is not working the way the teacher would like this year. The answer is not to increase medication as much as the school would like us to. The medication allows her to focus but of course does not pick and choose what she focuses on. Right now she is focused on the bully that is in her classroom. She watches her every move for fear that she will strike again. She has been physically aggressive with my daughter, threatens her and bangs her desk every time she walks by it. If she is not thinking about the times she has been pushed, hit, threatened to have the glasses ripped off her face, broke in half and thrown away she is thinking about what will happen the next time. Will it be at the next recess, at lunch, afternoon recess, on her way home??
My ten year old son just last week informed me that bullying happens every day and teachers do nothing about it. He is not sleeping at night as his sleep is disrupted with nightmares about the group of kids in his class that are bullying him. He has been kicked, punched in the ribs, had soccer balls thrown in his face, he is told daily that he is stupid, fat and that he sucks at all sports. They make up stories and spread rumors about him and embarrass him in front of his whole class.
When I sent my son and daughter to begin their education they were full of joy and wonder. They were smart, creative, out going, fun loving, ready for challenges, full of spirit, caring and compassionate children. As a result of physical violence, name calling and put downs my children are quiet, withdrawn, refuse to participate for fear of giving these kids more ammunition regardless of how smart they are they no longer are willing to put themselves out there. There self esteem and feelings of self worth have been taken by these thieves. By Sunday night the tears begin at bedtime with thoughts of going to school in the morning. The struggle to get them through their morning routines and out the door to school is becoming increasingly difficult.
My husband and I have talked at length, consulted their doctors/therapists and have come to the conclusion that home schooling might be the answer to what we have been looking for. Could this be the silver lining in my illness? The opportunity to provide my children with a an education in an environment that will respect them, love them and provide opportunities for success and rebuild self esteem and self worth.
The school knows me well. I am an involved parent. They are out numbered 651 students to a staff of 35. It is a supervision issue. They have contacted families only to find the child is a reflection of their parents. These parents see nothing wrong with their children's behaviour and encourage it. They have acknowledged that they cannot keep my children safe. They are limited in what they can do in these situations. They also acknowledge the number of children who have taken their own lives as a result of being bullied at school. We had an incident in September in a neighbouring town where a child took his own life rather than start grade six the next morning. They know it is serious, they have an anti-bullying program in place...they try...they fail.
Everyone we have discussed this with has been in support of this decision. I know the kids will miss their friends and teachers. I don't think that friends and teachers are reason enough to subject them to the bullying that they have dealt with up to this point. We have had a few family discussions about home schooling. Getting a feel for what the kids think about it. The initial reaction to the subject of home schooling was relief, where do we sign up kind of thing. Then came questions and now they just don't know. It would be wonderful to not have to dealing with bullying but missing their friends is a big deal. They are torn....we want to do it but can we start after report cards come out in November, then this morning maybe we could stay in school until December. So one of two things is happening. 1. They are feeling wonderfully supported and their feelings have been validated and that makes going to school easier on a day to day basis and managing what is happening. 2. They have had a good week as far as Bullying goes. When it is good it's good and when it is bad it is HORRIBLE. They don't know what they want and we as parents are torn it is difficult to know what is best long term. We have explained to the kids that we were exploring this alternative, gathering information so we can make an informed decision and ultimately the decision is ours. It is too big a decision to place on children of this age.
Do we home school for 6 months and see if it is what is best for our family? In that time can we get their confidence and self esteem back. If it is decided that they want to return to school will they then have the tools they need to deal with the situations that they are going to encounter. I don't want to send the message that if things are tough that the best solution is to walk away. Sometimes parenting is just tough. There are difficult decisions to be made.
What do you think? Do you home school or know someone who home schools? Will my RA/Fibro allow me to provide the education that they deserve? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
I look forward to hearing from you! Hope you are having a wonderful week.
© 2011 Rhonda