Monday, December 31, 2012

Homeschool Monday - Trusting the Wisdom of Mom and Dad

One of the most important lessons we've had to learn in our years of homeschooling is to trust in our own wisdom and insight.  We have had to become the experts on our own children. It was difficult at first for me to think of myself as an expert at anything.  I'm just a mom who never finished college (9 hours from a poli sci degree, thank you very much).

I never quite thought of myself as on par with the teachers and educational experts at the school district.  They were trained in teaching and child development, while I kind of muddled my way through and picked things up as I went.  There was always a worry somewhere in the back of my mind which said, "What if they have trouble with school? How would I be able to spot issues? How could a non-professional teacher recognize learning disabilities"

When the much feared problems showed up along with our beloved  #3, there wasn't much trouble recognizing that he was struggling.  Watching him moving the books around and squinting at the pages made it clear that something was wrong.

Six eye doctors and as many evaluations later, and all we heard was, "He is slightly near sighted, but not enough to cause what you say you're seeing.  He just needs to be taught to sit still."  I knew instinctively that it was wrong, and that there was something more.

We sought out the educational psychologists of the school district and had #3 assessed. They evaluated him and tested his IQ before reporting,  "He's below average, in fact his score placed him just one point above what could be considered mild mental retardation."

We were shocked.  How could the inventive genius in our house be mildly retarded?  We just couldn't understand how what we saw could be so at odds with what the experts were telling us.  Surely, we told each other, there had to be another part to the story.  How could the boy with the vivid imagination, and the ability to make it come to life, be so deficient?

He wasn't.  They were wrong.

We followed that doubtful and nagging feeling from one expert to another until we found one whose diagnosis made sense.  It's not his brain which causes his issues, it's his eyes.  The IQ tests they gave him were all vision based, and his vision doesn't work right.  The results were skewed by a handicap no one had yet detected.  A problem most school don't detect until the child is 10 or older, we have come to discover.  It was his being homeschooled which allowed us to spot that there was a problem when he was still in Kindergarten.  (It took 3 years to get a diagnosis which is amazingly fast for his particular set of issues.)

It's one of the most difficult lessons we have had to learn.  The experts with all of their degrees ad experience can be wrong.  No matter how many diplomas are on their walls or how long they've been in practice, we are the experts on our children and there is no educational equivalent for that.

Over the years, my husband and I have learned to trust our instincts and each other.  We've developed our ability to sift through the mountains of opinions and educated deductions to find the root problems and challenges we are facing.  We've learned to research, study and adapt methods and techniques to fit each individual child.  This is one of the key reasons homeschooling has worked so well for our children.  It has afforded us the knowledge and time to be able to truly get to know our children, their abilities, the struggles, and their unique challenges in order to help each one become the very best that they can be.

If we had listened to the school district and their experts, our creative child would be sitting in a special education classroom not being challenged  Instead we have learrned that there is no substitute of the Wisdom of Parents or our ability to help our children if only we will listen to it.


Karyn said...

I would love to get to this level of confidence with our homeschooling - and I was a teacher before being a mom and my husband is still in the school system. So, while I know the weaknesses of public schools, I also worry if I'm "getting it right" or if my kids will finish with me and then we'll find this gap or that gap. I try to trust that my best is truly the best for them and that God will provide whatever opportunities they need.

I have a friend who homeschools and her grammar and spelling are atrocious. She works hard for the kids and I think that's the most important thing but still, the kids are learning this incorrect way of speaking (I don't know about their spelling). I bring this up, not to make fun, but sometimes I wonder - what negative things am I passing on to the kids without even realizing it? Or are there some skills that I'm forgetting to pass on?

I'm enjoying your homeschooling series - being on the beginning end of this journey, it's good to read someone with more experience.

Packrat said...

Don't get me started (again!) about schools and teachers. Are there some skills you are forgetting? Maybe, maybe not. All sorts of information is skipped or delivered incorrectly in school, too. (I really believe that there are teachers who try to do their job well, but are hampered by rules, poor curriculum/books, and too much to do in a short period of time.)

Packrat said...

PS: You seem to be doing an excellent job. :)

Anonymous said...

It scares me that people with bad spelling and grammar are homeschooling. If I were to homeschool in my fantasy life (I'm not a parent), I would have to get someone else to teach math and science. Those are my weak areas. I guess that is why there are homeschool co-ops.