Monday, October 10, 2011

Pride and Anti Homeschooling!

Tonight for dinner, I'm eating humble pie.  Have you ever tasted it before?  It's got a strange texture, and it's very hard to swallow.  I hope it stays down because I can't imagine having to eat it again!

We had parent/teacher conferences today.  Nathan is doing well...he has an "A" in every class except math (no surprise there) but he managed to eek out an 87.  Olivia...she is also doing well.  She's getting an "S" (satisfactory) in every subject.  Amelia, on the other hand, is another story.

Amelia is having a lot of trouble with reading.  At least, the school thinks so.  I agree with them that she is not reading books that are at the second grade level, for the most part.  She still likes to choose books with pictures and simple stories.  Her favorites are the Berenstain Bears, Curious George and other picture books.

She has a tendency to anticipate what the word will be and shout it out BEFORE she actually reads it.  It's as though she looks at the first few letters and decides what she thinks the word is.  Here's an example....tonight, she and I were reading one of the Jigsaw Jones Mystery books.  The sentence in the book was "Even worms and broccoli".  She read "every worms and broccoli".  I'm sure this is very common with early readers.  In other cases, she'll add letters to words...for instance, the sentence was, "Joey wore glasses and, judging by the bird's nest on top of his head, he didn't own a comb", however, she read " the bird's nesting on top of his head".  At other times, she'll get to a word she doesn't know and just stop.  She won't even attempt to sound it out.

Anyway, we have been offered some group tutoring at the school.  Once or twice a week, she'll go with a couple of kids from her class and work on reading skills.  Most recently, we were offered a one on one tutor with funds from Title I.  She was given an assessment test and scored considerably lower than she should have based on age and grade.  Dan and I are eager and willing that she get any and all help that she needs to meet the reading goals set by the school.  We want her to enjoy reading and so I am trying to tread very lightly here so she doesn't become discouraged.

Here's the part where the humble pie comes in....

Today, I was confronted for the very first time in my life, with an educator who was definitely anti-homeschooling!  It is as though I had abused my child.  By the time I left, I felt about 2 inches tall.  She told me....and I quote, "Amelia is not ready for second grade".  She said that she only just found out that we had homeschooled last year and that she was surprised.  She said she  had also heard that homeschooled children usually did much better than kids that went to traditional school.  She also mentioned that this had to be the reason why Amelia was having so much trouble quieting down in the mornings and assimilating into a large group setting!   IS SHE OUT OF HER MIND?

I was stunned.  In a nice way, I tried to explain to her that because our kids had started out in school and then homeschooled, we had some big adjustments last year.  I told her that the beginning of the year was somewhat rough but that by the end, we were in a really good grove and Amelia was moving through her material very well and that we had her assessed at the end of the year by a public school teacher (yes, it was Dan's sister) and we were told that her reading was right at grade level.

She then informed me that since it was my first year of homeschooling, perhaps I had a learning curve too know.....perhaps it wasn't the best year.

I guess it wasn't enough that I felt inadequate about homeschooling my kids all on my own, but now, I had to have one of their teachers tell no uncertain terms....that I pretty much ruined my daughter and because of me, she really shouldn't be in second grade and will probably need to repeat it.

I'm so upset, I don't even know what to do!  I'm ready to pull them all out of school and tell them all to go jump in a lake!  My feelings are hurt, my pride is hurt and I'm steaming mad.  Down in the debts of my soul, I knew that if one of them didn't do well in school this year, it would be my fault.  I knew it would be because I wasn't disciplined enough, I wasn't organized enough, I wasn't smart enough to homeschool my kids.  Apparently, I failed at homeschooling and I'm failing at motherhood.

The funny thing is...I CHOSE this teacher for Amelia!  Yes I did!  Out of the other two choices, this teacher was really the best one.  How in the heck did it work out that THIS teacher is anti-homeschooling!  How did that happen?

I can see now that Amelia will struggle all year.  Amelia is "damaged goods" to her.  It won't matter what things Amelia excels or fails at, it will be the fault of homeschooling....and I'll be the mother that failed her daughter.  Sigh.

Pity party at my house, want to come?


Conservamom said...

As a former teacher,having worked with other teacher I have to tell you one thing...don't let it affect you. Unfortunately we as teacher think we know it ALL. Your daughter obviously knows her stuff she just has a different way of learning. It doesn't mean she doesn't know her stuff but kids are all different in they're learning techniques. Shame on that teacher for not acknowledging it. Stay strong and don't be hard on yourself. Whatever ever education she received with you is probably a million times better than she would have received in an overcrowded classroom. HUGS And stay strong!! :)

Barb, sfo said...

Just remember, she is a teacher, not God. I have been a teacher and I can tell you that we do not know it all. We do not know what's best for every kid. We do not know every kid's potential. If your daughter had been in school for first grade, who's to say that she would not be experiencing the same difficulties?

I pray that both you and the teacher can put aside your feelings and opinions and just focus on what is best for your daughter right now and how best to help her get over her reading hurdle. What's past is past. A teacher playing the blame game is not going to help the parent or the child.


Kara said...

My Amelia had a similar problem last year in Kinderarten and we held her back. This year she's doing wonderfully though.

I felt much like you did when her teacher first told me that she would likely have to repeat (at the first conferences in Oct last year!!), because I had intended to homeschool, because I hadn't sent her to preschool, etc, they put most of the blame on me. I didn't prepare her enough, etc. She was uncomfortable in a large group, and it messed up her work.

Hope everything works out and that the year starts going better. YOU did not ruin her. Kids are not all made from a cookie cutter. Some kids ned more time and work in certain areas and that's ok!!

Jessica of Faustina Farm said...

Spit out your humble pie now. I was going to type out my experience, but I am to lazy to write it all. Then I was going to call you, but I can't find your phone number. If you have not already realized there is no need for that pie that was being shoved down your throat by the prejudice of someone else, please send me your number again so I can call and set you straight. ;)

Michelle said...

What is more likely? That you, your husband, and your husband's sister completely overlooked any issues your daughter was having? Or that she's having an adjustment period at school (something that can happen to every kid every year, homeschooled or not)?

Have her reassessed, have her tutored... but don't beat yourself up. Your other children are doing fantastic; if you were The Incompetent Homeschooler, they'd be showing the effects, too.

I was an early reader. I'm not in any position to offer an internet diagnosis. However, I will say that it sounds like she's doing something I used to do when I wasn't interested in what I was reading. It was just a little laziness, a way to hurry up and get through the assignment so I could get back to what I really wanted to read.

Does she do the same thing with the books she enjoys?

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

No, I will not come to a pity party at your house because I AM NOT GOING TO LET YOU HAVE ONE! RE-read the last things you wrote in this post please..."no matter WHAT Amelia does all year it will be the fault of homeschooling"...THEREIN lies the PROOF of this situation are dealing with ONE woman who obviously has ABSOLUTELY NO understanding of, experience with, or grasp of homeschooling; nor does she desire to learn or be enlightened...If it were me, I'd get my daughter out of that class as soon as about "damage"...what's to become of poor Amelia in having to be subject to such a biased person ALL YEAR LONG! That said, if that's not a possibility for you...then you need to STOP eating that humble pie and serve some to this teacher instead. YOU are Amanda's one on the face of this earth next to GOD HIMSELF loves her or cares about her education more than YOU do...So...the next time this teacher gives even so much as a HINT of a bigoted homeschooling statement...I want you to promise me that you will request a meeting with her and tell her in no uncertain terms that you are willing to make sure that your daughter does her best to respect authority and follow the rules of the class but you have no intention on allowing these negative comments to ensue...and if she doesn't stop then I want you to call ANOTHER meeting with the teacher AND the principal and explain yourself again...until she STOPS this prejudicial treatment of homeschoolers!!! THIS IS SO WRONG! What about all of the other students that this woman has taught who have been "remedial" readers????? Were they homeschooled???? Or is AMELIA the ONLY student ever to struggle with reading...I thank the good Lord above that my Joey is not in that class as he is in 4th grade and is only NOW starting to read "stories" on his own with less assistance from me...although I am still at his side!!!!! This woman would tear him to shreds...or...attempt to convince me that I HAD RUINED MY SON...HOGWASH NANCY WIDENER...don't you DARE allow these RIDICULOUS comments to un-nerve or affect you! It's teachers like that who "ruin" kids...NOT homeschooling! Incidentally, I am not naive...I know that there are neglectful, lax, and incapable people who are "claiming" to teach their children and home and are not doing so...but there are plenty of parents with kids in outside schools and teachers in the classroom who ARE NOT DOING THEIR JOBS either!!!! You have done your best in teaching your dear kids at home and YOU DID A GREAT JOB.
Now...bake another humble pie and feed it to that teacher. Hear me?

Colleen said...

I have to put in my two cents here.
First of all, let me tell you that I ditto everything Judy wrote. Amen.
Second point, I did not homeschool my child and I am not a teacher. I am not an expert on either. However, I do have two sons and 4 stepchildren and 15 grandchildren which qualifies me for something! Right?
Anyhow, when my boys were ready for preschool - the big thing then was that kids should go to preschool from the age of 2 and learn as much as they could. I had a thing about my boys being kids as long as they could and i really did not want them to start being pressured to excel at age 2. So I decided they would not go to preschool until they were 4 and that was only so they would be more comfortable when they started Kindergarten. I read somewhere that all kids - no matter how well they read when they got to kindergarten - all caught up to each other by 4th grade! That bit of news was good enough for me. SO they both went into preschool at age 4.
They both were excellent readers, got mostly A's and B's and both were in honor classes in high school. One is now a teacher himself. And they both still love reading.
Do what you think is right for your child and change teachers if she continues to have this same attitude. And pray for her!
God bless! Hugs!

Gramma 2 Many said...

Can't add anything. It has all been said. Just do not let her get you down.
With that I am going to bed:)

noreen said...

I did come back to read this post and I can understand why you were upset. I'm curious now about the teacher... is she a seasoned teacher? near retirement? or just out of college teacher?

Take the offers of tutoring because it cannot hurt unless Amelia is feeling stigmatized by it. (That happened to my son after awhile of being pulled from the classroom for help in reading.)

Don't let this teacher dictate your ability as a homeschooling mom. She wasn't there and she doesn't know. All she knows is what this test tells her... Amelia needs help. Many children do. They just need a boost of extra help and then they jump right back up to grade level performance.

Again, I'm mentioning how teachers zero in on test scores to determine ability rather than learning. Some children have test taking anxiety too and don't perform as well as they'd normally do.

Is this the first time you've heard about her struggle quieting down in the mornings? That's another pet peeve of mine with teachers. I don't like to be caught off guard at a parent teacher conference about some struggle my son had. That happened in kindergarten.

Since then, I check in with his teachers via email on a regular basis on how he's doing in the classroom and what we should be focusing on at home. That's helped a lot. (He is now in 6th grade and I'm still doing it.)

I'll even ask his teachers for book recommendations or contact the school librarian for book ideas. The public librarians know me well too :)

I will keep Amelia and your family in my prayers!

Susan Barber said...

I am reading this late... and partially read the other comments. the ladies here are all right!! Every child is different. Your baby will catch up. Nancy you are a wonderful, WONDERFUL mother.. and I don't want you to ever doubt that. You have taught your children the really important things... love, acceptance, family, love of God,.. and the list goes on. You keep your chin up Sister. You're little angels are ALL going to excel!! ((((hugs))))