Thursday, September 14, 2017

In which I confess to giving my 13 year old a gap year

So my original title of this post had the subtitle "and he repays me by acting like an over-indulged little sh**", but I didn't think that was very kind.

For the past several years, our kids have attended a small private school near our house. Unfortunately, this school does not include a high school, which starts in Grade 8 here. So after wrapping up Grade 7 in December 2016, Tyson joined the ranks of those who learn at home.

Here's the bottom line on how this year has gone: I am not home enough to home school my kid. The end.

My life is not scheduled. Meetings pop up that I do not have control over; there are some things that you cannot deal with over the phone, so you must physically drive 40 minutes round trip for a 5 minute conversation; when I did try to have a set schedule of days I would go out and days I would stay home, something always popped up that screwed up all of my planning. You get the picture.

We started out the year with science, math, on-line typing, on-line grammar and that was it. Today only math remains and Tyson just informed me he has 3 lessons left and he will be finished with the whole book.

I have a sullen, sulky teenager who sees the world in black and white and trying to add new things to his "program" usually ends up with a lot of talking back on his part and yelling on mine.

me: Tyson, I want you to write a report today on ______________.
Tyson: What??? I have already done 20 minutes of school. You are so mean.
me: Tyson, a normal school day is 6 hours so QUIT BEING SUCH A BABY.

The end.

I have a few friends who "unschool" and do you know what? It totally works for them. You know what else? They are really present and invested in what their kids are learning and doing and interested in. The hard truth for me is I am not in a place where I can be that present for Tyson. This has been a hard year for me and no amount of self-blame or self-shame has motivated me to up my game and be a better resource for my kid.

Yet, for all of its frustrations, and there have been many, the year has not been a total loss. My sweet boy had a few pretty bad years at school with a whole lot of bullying, name calling, being cussed-out and torn down. It was not nice and my boy needed a break. I have seen how the time away from daily encounters with ugliness has allowed my boy to heal and hold his head up high again.

He has had more time to spend with friends who understand him and love him just the way he is. He has been building things out of wood, learning some sweet dance moves, helping Darin with projects around the house and joining me as I visit day care centres. He is greeted by cheerful 3 and 4 year olds yelling " Abuti Tyson, Abuti Tyson", which means brother Tyson..

One of the best parts about home schooling is that there isn't any homework. Can I just say, I HATE homework. I detest it. Teach the kids at school and let them play and relax at home. When Tyson was in regular school, I dreaded afternoons. Sure, it was great having kid free mornings to get done what I needed to do, but the afternoon battles with homework were the worst. Come home from school, get into screaming matches with your kid about doing homework that seems A: pointless and B:confusing, take a break for supper, yell some more, send kid to bed, go into bedroom 30 minutes later to apologize for yelling, repeat for a whole school year.

The truth is, I love having Tyson around. I even told Darin I kind of want to home school Jori too because it has been so much fun getting to know Tyson in a different way. However, I am not disciplined enough to home school my kids and I am not present enough to home school my kids. So the obvious answer seems to be "find a school and get your kid in there ASAP", but I am hesitant because of the bullying and the totally crappy afternoons filled with homework.

So, there is a new school possibility starting in January. Darin and I are going to a parents meeting on Sunday. I want to know about policies on bullying and policies on homework. These are the make it or break it issues for me. If we don't decide on this school, I told Tyson he will be doing a formal home school program next year, either on line (because we finally have awesome Internet!!) or an offline program. We will then hire someone to come in at least 2 days a week to do some cleaning and keep an eye on Tyson and I will just have to become better at scheduling my life.

So ends my confession.

1 comment:

Jason Brouwer said...

We have (and are using more this year) Acellus. It is all web based and the classes so far have been well received. It also gives me the opportunity (I use this term on slightly tongue in cheek) to be the principal type person, for one of our sons who does not respond as well to my wife when she has to be the hammer. It has a pretty easy way to jump in and monitor progress and performance, then as the dad/principal/hammer of Thor I can address the situation as needed while not doing the bulk of the teaching. Maybe you can migrate the thumping side of homeschooling to Darin and you can be the "Good Guy" who gets to help and thus maintain the blissful and problem free existence we all get out of the homeschool experience (can you hear the laughter from the other side of the globe?).

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