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School that helped my son excel

Updated on August 25, 2013

Is your child bored, failing or picked on?

I remember my school days as being challenging, sometimes both socially and academically. My son's elementary classroom was a nightmare. An every day hassle of sexually aggressive girls, rampant bullying from boys, non-existent learning and very little or no discipline, I knew something had to change.

Better than the rest...

But not good enough

My son has always attended schools with academically progressive curricula, in the hopes that they could keep up with this bright and creative child. He has attended International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, private schools and a small community public school in the hopes of finding a lasting solution to every parent's primary concern - education.

My son began learning at a private pre-school and by the time he was in kindergarten was reading on a 3rd grade level. He looked forward to school and was an incredibly out going friendly kid. Young or old, he would play with everyone regardless of their ability. He wrote stories and cartoons, tried to make up jokes (luckily they have improved!) and was an all round fun kid. Once he moved into the formal school system he started a downward spiral where I saw creativity smashed and the joy for learning leaking away.

Every school he attended had some good parts. The IB schools were academically challenging and the staff was top notch. The discipline and behavior expectations were wonderful and allowed my son to excel and to be his wonderful, funny self. However, it was also a charter school in the worst part of town and really scary if you had to attend after school functions. The problems didn't show up until moved from 3rd into 4th grade and switched to a new location and new principal. Suddenly the creativity was out the door and regimental was in. Definitely not a program that would work for my son who is a born story teller, cartoon artist and aspiring singer.

So we moved to a private school - good curriculum, decent discipline and nice neighborhood. But do you want to talk about small minded and exclusive? I went to private school and it was nothing like the shunning and the lack of friendly overtures my son faced every day. So we tried a public school in a small community where we knew lots of people.

Let's just say that when I was in 4th grade I would never have been groping a boy and getting away with it. Nor would the boys have been allowed to talk and swear in front of staff with no repercussions. And so very little learning took place because 3/4 of the class time was spent on discipline. If it says anything about the experience - out of 60 fourthgraders, more than 10 left the school system at the end of the year because of their experience.

Then came the search - what could I offer that would bring my son back from the edge of being a lackluster, univolved, socially depressed child? I found it online.

The cure was found

What to do? What to do? I have worked as a teacher and have many friends who are teachers. I have taken child psychology classes, tried to find solutions and even consulted with professionals. How could I create an environment of positive social interaction and a positive school environment. Everything seemed to lead back to homeschool. Yes, I have a full time job and I cannot be around all the time. However, we would find a way to provide the best situation for my son.

I cruised through all the homeschooling sites that I could find and talked to many homeschool parents. Blog upon blog left me weary eyed and frustrated. I didn't want to recreate the wheel and provide my own curriculum. I have a full time job and would not be able to be home all the time to be the teacher. And I didn't think I should be the primary teacher. I talked to my parents and discussed options. Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. And luckily it was not a train! A fellow teacher told me about Calvert Academy and how her daughter had been excelling and loving school again. It was definitely worth looking into.

What a relief! We are now into our 2nd year of using the Calvert Academy curriculum and he has rebounded remarkably. He socializes with many kids through after school playtime, community sports and at the YMCA. The real difference is in the quality of the social interaction.

He also takes 12 classes and Spanish and last year he earned 2 B's and 10 A's. The program emphasizes reading, writing and basic skills. Then they throw in art, art history, geography, composition, history, technology, math and science that offers hands on experiments. He now uses animation programs to write stories and watches learning videos and games to enhance the books. At 11 years old, he is responsible for getting his work done every day and I don't have to sit on top of him to do homework. When asked, he says he loves history and is learning about Plato and reading a book about the life of a boy in ancient Greece. His test scores have consistently risen over the past year and so have his spirits.

As parents, we strive to provide the best for our kids. To help them build a successful future, to produce as few emotional and physical scars as possible and to guide them toward behaviors that will move them forward in life. Homeschooling may not be for every kid - and God bless my parents for their help! - but it has been the saving grace for my child. He may choose to return to a brick and mortar school someday, but I know he will go back with the tools to navigate the rocky shoals of school.

This has been my experience. I welcome your thoughts and feelings on the subject.

What do you think? - Are you satisfied with your child's school experience?

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