I have been searching for years for an explanation to my daughters extreme difficulties in math. I see her struggle with number sense and pattern recognition, and even see math skill difficulties filter into other subjects, such as the ability to memorize facts or to visualize a story. So when I stumbled upon something called Dyscalculia a few weeks ago, a lightbulb went on in my head! Suddenly, so much of what Laine experiences had a name and a face… however, even the vast internet offered very few ideas for remediation.
When we decided to take Laine out of traditional education in the fall of her 7th grade year, it was terrifying. We had many friends who homeschooled their children and loved it. Somewhere in my soul I knew that I had to stand in the education gap, and not just by assisting her in earning passing grades, but by remediation. I wanted to fill in long lost gaps that the public system didn’t seem concerned with. I knew we needed to do more than just implement modification, and bandaid fixes to serious underlying problems.
That’s ultimately why I homeschool. Because the very best educators and support workers had helped my daughter earn almost straight A’s in her first year of middle school, but she struggled in ways that were not being addressed. She would do fewer problems, use a calculator, and have much less to study than the other kids. Her work was modified to an extent where she wasn’t being helped to learn, she was being helped to pass.
Truly, I would rather raise a C student who understands 75% of the material, than an A student who only had to learn half of the curriculum, and the IEP’d population of our school district, I feel, is doing the latter. It’s no fault of the educators. My family was fortunate enough to work with the kindest, warmest, most well-meaning group of people, who cared for our daughter. They rejoiced in her victories, carried her through her failures, and gave her a support system within the walls of her school that I always dreamed she would have.
Recently, I emailed her previous support teacher to inquire about Dyscalculia, and to see if she had ideas, or had heard of programs to help remediate. How sweet is it of her to call me in response to my email, during a break at school, and to talk to me about my concerns? She’s such a lovely lady, and I’m so thankful she influenced Laine’s life, even for only a year. But to paraphrase our conversation, essentially, she said her job is to help students pass tests. She wasn’t familiar with any specific remediation techniques or programs, because her job was to teach methodology and implement strategies for completing the work with the proper answers.
Now, I know this teacher and understand her heart is in a wonderful place. She wants her students to understand and grow and develop. But the evidence I have seen is that teaching understanding of concepts is not her primary job.
If our schools are not remediating and searching for ways to teach all kids to learn (because not all learn traditionally, we know this), than I know traditional school is not the place for my learner.
Many kids flourish in traditional schools, and many homeschoolers would as well. But for my family, homeschooling gives us the ability to target gaps and holes in Laine’s education. It gives us the chance to slow one subject down while speeding up, or enhancing another. It allows us to focus on what we feel is important, or give our daughter lots of opportunities to turn her attention to things she loves, and is interested in.
My desire is to raise up a person who loves to learn. I think that traditional schools failed Laine and I in that quest, and I just want to recapture it. I want to see the light come on when she understands something new. I want to allow her to expand her interests because there is time to allow her to, not just time to study for tests or complete projects. I want to reclaim our nights so we can rest and enjoy time as a family – not be scrambling to finish assignments.
There are many reasons we homeschool, but this is the most important one – to be in the driver’s seat of Laine’s education. To tailor it to her specific needs and abilities, and to make schooling conform to our lifestyle – instead of us conforming to the states schedule.
And you know what? It works for us and many others.
I love to discuss education and enjoy conversation about the pros and cons of all types of schooling. With that in mind, I welcome your comments and questions!