~”My son is a smart kid. Homeschooling him has brought that out of him.”
From the time that my son was in Pre-K there was an issue with his speech. He was always chatty, but sometimes intelligible. It would frustrate him to no end that he could not get his point across. His Pre-K teacher suggested we enroll him in speech therapy. It was a relatively easy process to do through the school system and he did well the first year.
By the time Kindergarten came around, the private school where he attended wanted to hold him back for a second year. They said that he had a short attention span and was not grasping the concepts. The director suggested medication for ADHD. As a licensed mental health therapist, I disagreed- especially because schools and educators don’t hesitate to medicate Black boys to subdue them versus figure out how to help them learn. The speech therapist at the public school also disagreed- his testing showed that he was bright, but had some communication deficits that impeded his processing and that he would benefit from an individual learning plan.
We moved forward, placing him in the public school where his speech therapist worked. The special needs team did an assessment and continued him on with speech therapy, and we agreed to monitor progress in a public school setting.
By the first grade, we were looking at setting up an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). After a complete evaluation, it was determined that he needed to continue with speech therapy and they included occupational therapy to assist with his muscular coordination. They also touched on the subject of the Autistic Spectrum.
By the second grade, we had completely discussed my son being on the autistic spectrum. There were obvious signs and while there were deficits, there were obvious strengths. But at this point, I was willing to explore whatever would help him to be successful and feel confident in school. He was already coming home telling me that he felt different than the other kids and that school made him nervous. He was switching classes at least three times a day to go to his therapies and special classes, and although his teachers said that he did excellent, I still felt like there could be something better for him.
His social studies and science was not covered under the IEP, so his homeroom teacher modified his coursework. She gave him topics to research and he had to come in and do a visual and oral presentation on the subject. She sent me video of my child, vibrant as he taught the class on subjects he loved. He captivated them and did Q&A. From that moment, I knew that we had to look at the way that he learned and find a way to help him thrive. And that would not be in a structured classroom. One of his teachers talked with me about homeschooling and the fact that my son did 75% better with one on one assistance. We were already doing the projects consistently. Why not?
One of my friends was already doing a traditional home school program for her son and it worked. Another friend looked into Georgia Connections Academy . When I took a look at it, it was perfect. Tuition-free, still in line with public school, and he could manage school at his own pace. When his father and I discussed it, we decided that it was worth the try. Neither one of us wanted our son to start the school year in the 3rd grade full of anxiety again. As parents, we decided to think outside the box and give it a try.
Now finishing the 6th grade, my son is an A/B student, more confident in his abilities. He is looking forward to finding a job and being more independent. I don’t have to tell him when to start his work and he concentrates and works until he is finished. Georgia Connections Academy has wonderful teachers who are way more in contact with me than his teachers were in public school. He never misses an assignment because he can log in at anytime anywhere there is a computer and Wifi. We are able to tap into therapists for speech, occupational therapy, and we’ve even added an ABA specialist to assist with social skills therapy.
My son is a smart kid. Homeschooling him has brought that out of him. Most people ask about the socializing aspect of school. Do you realize that your kids are not allowed to really talk in the cafeteria during lunch and that most schools have cut recess time? In my son’s cyber program, he is able to video chat with his classmates and there are field trips and social clubs that he can join.
The best part is there is no time constraint. To say that you have to learn a subject and get it within the hour that class is taught is ridiculous. In his school, he can take his time to learn and understand a concept and his work is tailored towards his needs. If he breezes through something, he gets more challenging work. If he needs to work further on a subject, he can.
I asked my son if he wants to go back to traditional school for high school. He does not want to. He feels like being in school all day would get in the way of him having a job. He would like to work at QT (‘they have good freezies’), Publix (‘to help old ladies take out their groceries to the car’), or Petsmart (he loves animals). I won’t get in the way of a man with a vision.
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