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It’s That Time Again (Or Why Keith and I Feel The Girls Shouldn’t Be Homeschooled)

March 9, 2010

Last Wednesday, I went to pick up the girls from Heather’s. After a chit chatty exchange, she mentioned as a side note, that it was March. For the rest of the world, this is no-brainer and of no consequence, really. In our world, this is a big deal. March is Testing Month. She giggled as she said it. Said if we really cared this year, it was time to do testing.

If we really cared. Hmmm. Don’t get me wrong. I love that we are all getting along. I really do. But, don’t ask me to put aside my concern for the girls’ education for our feel good situation. See, Keith and I do not agree with the girls being homeschooled. And a few of you know why, some of you assume you know why. For the rest of you, I write this blog.

When Keith and Heather were married, they agreed to homeschooling. When Keith and Heather separated, Keith wasn’t cool with it. Why? It’s really easy: He was no longer a part of the education that Katie and Emily would be receiving. Not in a selfish way. In a concerned parent way. For example, if your child goes to school, you can have a meeting with your child’s teacher anytime you ask. When the teacher is your ex-spouse, the meeting rarely happens and when it does, you can bet it’s going to be full of hostility. See the dilemma?

So we have battled the homeschooling battle for six years. And not won for six years. Not lost for six years either. But not won. The first year, we were in mediation and she brought tons of papers in. And we brought in tons of papers. And I think it all came down to her having blogged about her perfect ideal homeschooling situation: she sits in a big comfy chair with a cup of coffee and a good book, the kids play outside and God teaches them what they need to know through nature. Now, that’s not verbatim. I do have it saved to the other computer if you need it verbatim though. 😉 You get the gist of it though. She didn’t look so good after the attorneys read that. We have seen more attorney’s offices and courtrooms over this one thing than the rest of the divorce proceedings combined. Why? Because their education is that important to us. We have heard from so many different attorneys, mediators and judges on this. It finally came down to this: the girls are to be tested by a third party source each year. If they are judged to be “below grade level”, they are put in school. Pretty simple, right? Keep reading.

Here is where I would like to say, to all of you homeschoolers reading this that I do think homeschooling can be done well. I just don’t think it is being done well in this case.

Katie is brilliant. She is our ten-year-old (in eight days). She is in the fourth grade and probably reads on a seventh grade level. However, I do not credit her mom with that. I like to think that I have helped instill in her a passion for books. But neither her mom nor I have helped her learn to read. Just ask her. Seriously, Katie didn’t know her ABCs for the longest time. First grade? Second? She just picked up her reading on her own over time. Her mom gave her grammar workbooks and read to her but as far as Katie would talk about to us and as far as I could tell from the lesson plans we saw (Heather used to send us the lesson plans and examples of work weekly), Heather never actually sat down and sounded out letters with Katie or “taught” her how to read. Now, i know that reading out loud goes a LONG way and I won’t dismiss that for anything but I also know that there has to be more of an effort made on behalf of the teacher and as far as I could tell, that effort wasn’t being made. As far as math goes, Katie knows basic addition and subtraction. No multiplication. Nothing further than the basics. Her reading carries her far, but that can only carry you so far..

Emily is also brilliant. She will be nine this summer. She’s in the third grade. She can’t read. I don’t understand. Everyone tells me she can. Katie, Heather. Everyone except Emily. Who flat out tells me she can’t read and who shows no sign of knowing how to read. Maybe she just doesn’t want me to know she can read? I don’t know. She also is behind on her math. And because she can’t (won’t?) read, she is behind on the other subjects like History and Social Studies, Science, stuff like that.

So. Obviously, I do not think I have ignorant children. I do not think they are being educated in the best way possible for their skills. Maybe Heather can’t teach them but could teach other children? Maybe her way of teaching isn’t something Katie and Emily understand? Who knows. Not I. All I know is that I hurt for them when I hear Abby talk about her classes and how much she is learning and they happen to be in the room or in the car.

As for socializing, I know, I know, I know, homeschoolers hate to hear the S word, but Socializing is an issue for me. Until this year, other than a co-op they attended occasionally, the girls had no outside activities other than church. This year, Katie attends a Marine Biology enrichment class and they both take Ballet. That’s a pretty good start, I would say. I would like to see something else thrown into the mix. I would LOVE to have seen this all take place years ago because I think the damage is done: Katie quacks at people. Yes. She quacks at people. Teachers at church have to discipline her for her disruptive behavior and quacking is often an issue. For someone who reads on such a high level, Katie is very immature. She is just a spaz. I love her, but she is an immature spaz. 🙂

As for the testing, up until last year, the girls were tested at Sylvan. Their stepdad’s family owns Sylvan. The results of those tests were never reliable. Well, the results were but the reading of the results weren’t. Every year, the Director of Eduction would call us in and go over the test results with us, explaining that both girls had tested below grade level in so many different levels and each year he would be ready to testify that the testing process was such that you couldn’t really say that the girls tested below grade level because the tests were open to interpretation.

Last year, we took a different approach. Things were different with us all, so we decided to trust a little more. It bit us. We bought the tests, had the tests administered by a friend of Heather’s who is a teacher and then mailed the tests in to be scored. Sadly, I saw Heather erasing and re-marking the scoring sheet the day she was giving them to me to be mailed back in. She said something got mis-marked and she was trying to get it back on track. I don’t trust that, especially when one of the tests came back with scores off the chart. Do you see now why I don’t trust her to educate the girls?

So, it’s that time again. I have been researching our options for tests and testing centers. Keith and I have been going through our friends to see who might be the best person to administer the tests. I am pulling my hair out and crying over the lack of education and the wild what ifs. What if Katie had been in school all this time and was in the gifted class? Would she win a full ride to an Ivy League college? Would she turn it down so that she could write Science Fiction novels for a living? Would Emily be a rock star wanna be Miss Popularity? Or would she be a super star athlete who just so happens to excel at Math? Who Knows?? What I do know is that I love them and feel that they are not being given the education they deserve.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 12:08 am

    That is so terribly sad…..that she is not more interested in educating her children to the fullest and that she’s compromising their education by erasing scores, etc.

    • sarcasticredheadedgeek permalink
      March 10, 2010 9:57 am

      You know what I really have come to think? That she thinks that she is doing good. That she isn’t aware of the harm she is doing to them. Isn’t that sad?

  2. Katrina permalink
    March 10, 2010 11:08 am

    It is sad. Yet how could someone be so out of it that they don’t even realize they’re not teaching their kids anything??? Hopefully this will be the year that the courts will order that they are put in school, for their sake. The girls shouldn’t miss out on a good education.

  3. sarcasticredheadedgeek permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:05 pm

    I don’t think the courts will do anything. I think that, if anything, Em will not “pass” her test and we will have to have a serious discussion with Heather. She will want another chance and we will push for school. I don’t THINK it will go to court because I don’t think either of them want it to go that far. I would bet she knows that if it went to court, she would not win, so she would concede. I think. Boy was that vague or what?

  4. March 10, 2010 8:17 pm

    I think someone is either in denial or oblivious to their own lack of ability as a teacher.

    Hopefully some sense gets knocked into her and she concedes….

    Poor girls.

  5. sarcasticredheadedgeek permalink
    March 11, 2010 4:39 pm

    I think she’s oblivious to her success as their teacher. Maybe she would do good as someone else’s teacher? Or maybe I am giving her too much benefit?

    I hope she concedes either way.

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