We homeschool our kids, in case you haven't noticed. Have done so for the last 3 years, this being year four of our endeavor.
When our oldest child was to start school we lived on the outskirts of town. We had heard lots of good things circulating about the nearby country school. It was K-12, a rarity in deed. We went to check out the facilities and felt good about placing our child in the hands of these strangers. Our baby was 4 when he started the Pre-school program at that little country school. He dazzled the socks off of the teachers and kids alike. Every one loved him. He seemed to be doing marvelous.
Since this was only Pre-school, the teachers didn't have conferences regularly there was just a big meeting at the end of the year to discuss the progress your child had made since the beginning of the year.
At the parent/teacher end of the year conference our son's teacher Mrs. G (not to be confused with the Derfwad herself, who just happens to be a homeschooler) sat my husband and myself down and proceeded to tell us how she was just not satisfied with the progress our son was making with his writing.
"Do not be alarmed" she said in her best teacher voice "kids often struggle with this fine motor skill for years on end".
My husband and I exchanged confused glances. "What?" was our echoed reply.
"Oh, oh. Not to worry." Mrs. G responded, "I have prepared some worksheets for extra practice. Just have him do a few of these everyday over the summer and I am SURE you will see marked improvement."
Still severely confused, my darling husband, ever the quiet and non questioning sort says, "What, are you talking about? He writes just fine at home."
This unnerved Mrs. G. greatly. "What do you mean? He writes fine at home?"
Again, my quiet husband "Shall we have him write for us now?"
Mrs. G fetched some paper and called our son to join the fun. One sweet, ready to please 5 year old (he turned 5 in the middle of the year) steps up to the table, plops down and takes the pencil from Mrs. G with his left hand. Mrs. G firmly takes pencil from left hand and places it, properly, into the right hand.
HOLY CRAP! The thought echoed so loudly through my brain I was sure it was heard out load.
This woman had no idea that our child was left handed. She truly had no idea. Eight months of teaching my child how to hold a pencil, properly, in the right hand and she had no idea. This is a kid who has been left handed since birth.
Of course she felt bad. Of course she had too many students to take the time to catch on to little nuances that might have tipped her off to the left-handedness of our son, or other children for that matter.
This should have been that ah-ha moment. This should have been the point when we as parents said that is it, we are homeschoolin'. But it wasn't. We were young and hopeful.
We somehow managed to find the impossible dream after that. Another country school, smaller in size and fewer grade levels. (I am not kidding when I say this was the best public school ever.) This little school gave our family the best it had to offer. And it offered much. Our time spent at that little school was a great adventure that will never be looked back on as a bad experience or a waste of time. We were truly lucky.
Then we moved out of the district. We literally thought of ways to sneak our kids back in. Then resigned to put them into our local school. Which we regretted, almost, immediately.
Our second oldest daughter, Fern was then in the first grade. At the previous school she was at a third grade reading level. IN KINDERGARTEN! The girl is smart, and we had that great school remember? Well this new school didn't have Kindergarten, so all of the first graders had no previous schooling. Our little girl was lost in a sea of newborns. The teacher made her dummy down so as not to make the other kids feel bad. After nine weeks Fern could no longer read. Literally. The teacher had told her so many times, we don't do that in this class, you can't read those books, you aren't allowed to write in cursive the other kids are just learning their letters. Fern gave up hope. We knew something was up, but Fern wouldn't let us into her world. She was visibly shut down. When we went to the school to inquire about these goings on, the teachers seemed shocked that we should have concern for our daughter and her new found inability to read and write.
It took some serious convincing to get my husband on the homeschool band wagon. He read books by Gatto, and got all sorts of fired up. Then he would waver. He was a public school kid. He had seen those freaky "homeschoolers". The socially retarded ones. He feared for his children's lives. He didn't want any of that nonsense for his family. NO. Keep 'em in school, where they will be socially adept little people.
Then he read a whole stack of pro-homeschool books and more Gatto. That did the trick. He was convinced that our kids would be OK if we kept them at home. So home it was.
And ya know what? Our kids are so much better than OK here at home. They are thriving. They are UN-schooling, free ranging, baking, running, farming, knitting, sewing, poetry reading/reciting, hungry little learning machines. Every thing we do around here is school. And that's the way we like it.
As for all that other junk, the non reading and left handedness? Well Lefty (Head-Strong) has beautiful penmanship and Fern, she still hits that "I can't do it" wall from time to time but we are working through it. And the rest is as they say history. Our history.