After my son had a fairly disastrous preschool experience (Well, it was more disastrous for him. The teacher actually thought he was fantastic….), I pushed to homeschool him. Husband didn’t like the idea, but I was convinced that it was the best move for him.
One of my biggest fears was that he was such an active kid. I just knew that I’d put him in school and the teachers would immediately peg him as being ADHD and start pushing medication. I didn’t think I wanted that for him.
I had a vision of what homeschooling would look like. He’d quickly finish his schoolwork and then would have so much extra time to do whatever his little heart desired. I’d let him advance as quickly as he wanted to, feeding his thirst for knowledge. We’d make lots of friends of different ages, based more on interest than being in the same class.
Boy was I wrong.
I tried to be pretty laid back, but he just wouldn’t do any “work”. OK, I thought, “work” doesn’t really have to take the form of worksheets or memorization. We can still learn lots by focusing on his interests.
That works well in theory, and I know that it works well for many many families, but it wasn’t working for us.
Even if something wasn’t presented like I was a teacher imparting knowledge. Even if it was something fun. If there was so much as a hint that a planned activity had to do with learning something, he wouldn’t be interested.
I could have let a lot of things slide if he had a strong interest that would keep him occupied, but he didn’t even have that. All he wanted to do was play video games.
It got to where we were fighting all the time.
He’d do cartwheels in the parking lot. He’d run out without checking for cars.
He’d only read for 5 minutes at a time and even that was begrudgingly.
He’d do one math problem, then need to roll around on the floor or do some handstands.
He’d impulsively strike out at his sister or me.
I had recently been diagnosed with ADD myself and was having a lot of success with Ritalin. I started to think that maybe he really was different from other kids. Maybe he really did have ADHD. Maybe Ritalin would help him as much as it helped me.
But my husband wasn’t interested in letting him try it.
And I felt like I had no choice but to put him in school.
We were trying to proceed with an official diagnosis, so having him in school would provide a different perspective. Maybe if all these other people who were around kids all the time were able to see him, my husband would start to believe me.
Imagine my surprise when he started school and the teacher and school psychologist both said that they saw no signs of ADHD.
Imagine my surprise when all the teachers talk about what a role model for good behavior he is.
Imagine my surprise when he started showing a bit of excitement for learning.
I still shake my head in confusion sometimes, wondering who this well-behaved kid they see is.
But I am happy because it means that right now things are working for him. It seems that part of what he needed was the constant social interaction. Even though there are plenty of opportunities for get-togethers in the homeschooling community, we just weren’t able to find people that we could meet with all the time.
I think he also needed to see a model of what learning looks like and what other “normal” kids his age are doing. Since the times that we typically met with other kids were social gatherings, I think that he didn’t really understand that other kids do schoolwork at home. (And some of our friends didn’t even do work at home because they’re unschoolers.)
I’m cautiously optimistic that things will continue to go well. I appreciate the flexibility of the school and their commitment to seeing each kid as an individual and working hard to address both strengths and weaknesses.
At least things are good now, knock on wood.