First and Last Day of Kindergarten | Our Choice to Homeschool
On August 6, 2018, Ray started school for the very first time! It was his first time going to a school and not daycare. We were both so excited for the school year and I was excited for all the things that he would learn in Kindergarten. We went back-to-school shopping making sure to get all the things on his school supply list, let him pick out a new pair of shoes, lunch bag and backpack. The first day arrives and we get him dressed in his uniform and I make his lunch. We drove him to school, and he got the bus back home. He had a great day with a big smile on his face.
As time went on, his smile got less bright and things started happening at school. He had a few incidents on the bus and one time he was punched in the stomach by another student. This kid was suspended but was able to ride the bus again and still cause problems for Ray. He was struggling academically especially with learning how to print his letters. This has been the biggest struggle for him since preschool, and I felt the teacher focused so much on what he lacked and never identified his strengths.
He was struggling with remembering his lunch number. The kids who knew their lunch number got Rice Krispies treats and it made Ray so sad that he couldn’t get one because he couldn’t remember his lunch number. We tried tirelessly to get him to remember and nothing worked. He encountered a few mean kids and he tried to deal with this as best as possible. I remember the many times he would get off the bus and run to me and then just breakdown in tears. It was honestly the hardest thing for me as a mom to see. I felt so helpless because the school was ignoring our complaints and not really doing anything about the issues that he was facing. Then we learned that he was harassed in the restroom and we talked to the school that inappropriate touching was happening in the restrooms, we were ignored once again.
I knew that I had to do something. All of this happened in the first 6 months of the school year and I was tired, and I knew Ray was tired. He had a lot of good moments during the school year too. He attended his first school dance without a parent, he was able to get a new coat, toy and backpack as apart of their Christmas program, made a few friends and really enjoyed PE. The good honestly did not outweigh the bad and I had to figure out what to do.
As a parent, I want to protect my child as much as possible, but you can only protect them from so much. Because I was also bullied and know the long term affects it still has on me, I wanted to do something more for Ray than promise it would get better. I looked at several Kindergarten programs in our areas but because I was unemployed and didn’t have a lot of income, I knew I couldn’t enroll him in these programs.
During the winter break, I noticed how much happier Ray was and I wanted him out of his school. Ray and I sat down several times during the winter break and talked about homeschooling. He’s a social butterfly and I knew he would really miss the interactions with other kids and miss the friends that he made the first part of the school year. I knew that as a mom, I needed to do more to prepare him for 1st grade because he was falling behind academically. I was scared to homeschool because I knew that meant I couldn’t really look for work until the end of the school year and I desperately needed income. I put my fears aside and I made the decision to homeschool. I filled out the Declaration of Intent, withdrew him from school and never looked back.
When I see the kids committing suicide because of bullying, it makes me incredibly sad. As parents, there is only so much we can do. I was fortunate enough to be able to pull my son out of school and homeschool. I just feel schools today are not doing nearly enough to put an end to this bullying epidemic. It takes more than a be nice pep rally to end this issue. I felt like my concerns were ignored, that students got away with mistreating my child and I was pushed to the side. It was honestly the most frustrating experience of my life and I can’t believe how little schools care about the well-being of their students.
We had good and bad days with homeschooling but all in all it was a great experience for us both. I still say the toughest part of homeschooling wasn’t the work but rebuilding the self-esteem and confidence he lost along the way. I was able to tailor the curriculum to fit his needs and be as creative as possible with the lesson plans. I think this experience helped him to love learning again and to be more confident in himself. He’s now printing his alphabets and numbers, counting, recognizing some sight words and even able to do simple addition and subtraction.
I’m glad that we took this leap of faith and homeschooled Ray. He wants to go back to school for 1st grade and I will let him and all I can do is pray that he’ll have a better school year next time around. I want him to be able to have a good school experience and enjoy all the dances, programs, field trips, field day and other school activities that he missed out on this year. Even though it was challenging at times, I do not regret the decision to pull my child out of school and homeschool.