Notes From a Homeschooler: Michelle’s Story, Part One
HA Note: The following is reprinted with permission from Michelle Hill’s blog Notes From a Homeschooler. It was originally published on January 18, 2015 and has been slightly modified for HA.
Why Families Homeschool
Why families homeschool has always been an interest to me. I grew up in a rural small town just north of Austin. My family had decided that all of us kids should be homeschooled after I had just finished Kindergarten at the local public school.
It started out with good intentions.
Their daughter, that’s me, had almost failed the end of year reading test and the school had recommended to my mother that I be put in summer school so that I could catch up. Instead, my mother had opted to keep me at home for the summer and teach me herself using a phonetic program and audio tapes. In the following fall, my parents didn’t send my other brother and me back to school. Instead, they send a letter to the school stating that they were withdrawing us from school so that we may be homeschooled.
That was the start of our long homeschool career.
My parents had decided that the small local school was incompetent in educating their children, so they opted for homeschooling.
At the time, I was in 1st grade, my older brother was in 5th grade, and my younger brother was two. This was actually an abnormal reason to choose to homeschool. The majority of homeschoolers choose to homeschool for religious or moral reasons (mommyish.com). My parents had simply decided that they could do a better job of educating us.
The second reason why my parents home-schooled us was because my little brother, Jason, had dyslexia. My mom had tried to homeschool him though Kindergarten. It didn’t go well. At the time, my mom didn’t know that he had dyslexia. Jason had problems remember his letters, the names of colors, and had a hard time with handwriting. The next year, she enrolled him in Kindergarten at the local public school to see if they could teach him better. When that didn’t go as planned, she pulled him out of school for 1st grade. Since then, my mother figured out that he has dyslexia, but has not officially tested him.
Now he is so far behind in school because of his difficulties with reading and math, that she refuses to send him to public school for fear that he will be placed grades behind.
Along the way, my parents had a fourth child, my younger sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was born with Down syndrome. When she was a baby, she had many complications and was in speech, physical, and occupational therapy. When she became old enough to go to pre-school, my family enrolled her in the public school’s preschool program. Elizabeth completed pre-school and then moved onto Kindergarten the following year. That’s was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. It’s a disease that affects the ball and socket joint of the hip and essentially causes the ball of the joint to deteriorate. The disease causes pain and inflammation of the hip joint which leads to a limp and loss of mobility. After this, my little sister was pulled out of school so that she could take it easy at home. My mother also decided that the school was not doing enough for my sister. She was kept in the special education program that integrated the children into the classroom during recess and P.E. The school’s special education program had many flaws, but I will not go into that now.
So there was my parents’ three reasons to homeschool their children. They believe that they could do a better job than the local public school could. Jason had dyslexia and has fallen behind in school, and so now my parents keep him at home in fear that they will be judged for him being so far behind. Finally, little sister has Down syndrome, and my parents believe that they could provide a more specialized individual education plan.
In upcoming additions, I will discuss how homeschooling affected me personally, why I don’t think it’s a great idea and would never home-school my children, what flaws I have personally seen in other home-school families, and what I think should be done about it.
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I teach in a public school in Washington state. They would not put a child in a lower grade based on his lack of academic progress. What they would likely do is put him in a class with his age mates and provide him with extra services to catch him up.