I am a semi-single mother of a recently turned 6 year old boy. I say semi single because I am not married, but I do live with the father of my son. We've been together off and on for about 7 years. I am the primary caregiver, and a stay-at-home mom. I do all the organizing, laundry, cleaning, pack lunches for both, make dinner, fill out all paperwork, provide the comfort and nurturing.
My partner works full time, in a very physically demanding job. Besides bringing in the income, he's not much more mature than my son. I do all of the positive parenting on my own, by that I mean I try to keep my son on a schedule (not too rigorous), keep him away from innapropriate influences (such as the violent video games his dad loves to play and let's him watch or sometimes play), give him nutritious food (which isn't easy because he's about the pickiest kid I know, won't even touch vegetables or fruit), and understand the cause of problems and work to prevent problems rather than just punishing or reacting harshly to them. I am by no means the perfect mom, but I do have the best interests of my child at heart.
I have been interested in home-schooling since right before my son entered Kindergarten. I was really apprehensive about putting him in school, because he has some issues. He had friends in the apartment complex we were living in who were going into Kindergarten that year, so he really wanted to go. I agreed to a trial of public school.
I am not impressed with it, in fact I was completely horrified when I found out what they were requiring Kindergarteners to learn these days. Writing sentences and paragraphs, reading books, geometry, perfect speech. What happened to the days of blocks, playdough, and pretend kitchens? I am somewhat artistic and have always had more of a creative mindset, and somewhat rebellious or 'free-thinking', although I did excell in reading during school.
I realize a lot of homeschooled children are considered 'gifted' or advanced, but I also know some parents choose to homeschool because their children learn best at slower paces. My child is one of those. He was considered behind in his class because I hadn't sent him to pre-school prior to Kindergarten. I had never let him use scissors before, and we didnt' do worksheets or practice the ABC's. He loved to look at picture books, and had stacks and stacks of them, but since starting school he rarely wants to pick up a book.
They put him in a speech class because he was hard to understand if you weren't giving him your full focused attention. I didn't want to have him singled out and taken from his classmates for this speech therapy, I was convinced his speech would straighten itself out once he spent time around other children his age and progressed through the year. We had a meeting with the principal, his teacher, and the speech therapist, and they made it very clear they would put him in the therapy whether we agreed or not, in very polite terms of course.
The principal told us, that although they want to work with parents and include us in as much of his education as possible, they had an obligation to do what was best for the student, and if necessary they could schedule a hearing with the school board to force him into speech therapy. I agreed to the therapy because I had heard horror stories about other parents who'd gone up against the school district and ended up being branded neglectful parents and had their parental rights 'revoked'.
He did alright through the year, made some friends, did a lot of colorful art projects and barely passed the end of year requirements put in place due to the No Child Left Behind act.
He is now in First Grade at the same school, because financially I cannot afford to move out of the school district. His dad does not want to move. His dad does not share my interest in homeschooling, he has the same out-dated mis-beliefs as many others about homeschoolers being 'freaks' or that my son won't get enough social activity or will fall behind even more.
My son has stated that he does not like school already, within the first week. He is not a morning person, and the trait is genetic. I am not either. He has to get up at 6am every day so his brain has time to wake up before getting ready for the day, then catches the bus at 7AM. He comes home from school exhausted from the 8Am to 2:30Pm work schedule. They get one 15 minute recess all day, and his first grade classroom has no creative play area. They sit at desks all day long doing worksheets.
We have to walk 2 extra long blocks to and from the bus stop each day. After a long, tiring day of school he drags his feet the whole way home. Communication between school and parents is vague. They send home a newsletter each week, but it's geared toward parents of the entire school. I get no specific updates or announcements concerning my son or his classroom, we had no open house before the year started to find his classroom, meet his teacher, find out if someone would meet him at the bus in the morning and walk him to his classroom, or if anyone is in the lunchroom to help monitor individual lunch eating.
I sometimes feel like they forget he's only just turned 6. They have these expectations of the children that they demand each and every child meet, regardless of individual developement. Last year the school nurse gave me stomach aches because she started a tirade that could have ended up in a bad situation. My son has Contact Dermatitis, which basically means his skin is extra-sensitive to certain environmental factors. He gets raised red areas on his skin which are not at all contagious and can be quickly and easily treated with gentle washing, lotion, and/or cortozone cream. She refused to believe the diagnosis and made it her mission to check him every day and each time she found it on him she removed him from class and called me at home. She knew what it was and the treatment, and he had been thoroughly checked-out at the Well Kid clinic before school started, but she called me every day to demand we book another expensive doctor visit to have it re-diagnosed.
Because I have no family support or support from his dad to homeschool, I don't feel safe in pulling him from school yet. I've decided to supplement his public schooling with evening and weekend home-schooling. My son is actually a very sensitive kid, and needs a lot of encouragement and one on one teaching. He does have ADHD, and he is not taking medication for it. I try to avoid medications UNLESS it is a life threatening situation.
Does anyone have any advice on progrms to use for supplementing formal education? I don't want to add more paperwork for him to do after school. Does anyone else do this? I am not going to have support from anyone else, it will be up to me to make sure my son does the work. I would like to start this now and then in the future be able to full-time homeschool. Are there any support groups specifically for part-time homeschooling/public education families?
Thanks for reading, I tend to create super-long first time posts, but I hope someone takes the time to read it and can give me some advice.