This is a guest post from Sarah Griffith.
This a story I’ve read many times on Penelope’s blog: How I started homeschooling. But my story feels like the white trash version.
I had thought for a long time that homeschooling would be right for my son, but I was scared.
He hated school: getting up early, being expected to function well at 8 a.m., told to sit still and do his work even if he saw no purpose in it, being restricted from the classes he truly loved like art and woodworking.
The routine calls from the principal drained me mentally. I knew that public school wasn’t doing right by my kids, but I couldn’t imagine an alternative. I questioned so much along the lines of what to do with him all day, how to expose him to a variety of interesting learning opportunities, how to know when he’s learned enough, and so on.
All of those questions melted away recently when my son made an inappropriate comment about school shootings (a think-it-don’t-say-it moment which are common to teenagers everywhere). His spoken thoughts put the school administrators on edge. They immediately pulled him from class, alerted the school police officer, and called me to the school.
After they told me why he was in trouble, I calmly asked what the next steps were (to have him seen by a doctor who will clear him as “safe to be around the other students”) to return him to school. I collected my son and headed home.
Then he began to tell me why he made the comment. He felt that by being aware of the possibility of a school shooting, one would be more apt to be ready for it and survive.
This made sense to me in the same way that having an exit plan for your family in case of fire doesn’t make you paranoid or an arsonist. A plan just means you are prepared. And he casually mentioned how the police officer made a comment about how my son probably thinks it’s okay to torture small animals, too.
He started crying.
He was so upset that they misunderstood his thought process and his basic character. Now he feels like he can’t trust adults with his private thoughts. I want more for this sweet, nurturing boy who spends time with elderly family members, and has confronted a bully who recently caused one of his friends to attempt suicide. I knew he deserved better.
So I will not be seeking a doctor’s note, but will be letting my son find things of interest to him to study and allow him to chart his own course through education. While there isn’t a map, he is a good reader and very creative, so I am going to use everything at my disposal, which are things that are at everyone’s disposal: skilled friends, a library, a craft store, community classes, volunteer opportunities, and Khan Academy for the rest.
There’s been a huge weight lifted off both our shoulders in this house, and I’m not scared anymore.