Sunday, May 26, 2013

A long journey

Shortly after I started this blog, we had a HUGE change in our household.

Just a few days after my laxt post, my 12 year old stepbrother moved in with us. Going from a single child home to a multi-child home in the blink of an eye is really hard. To compound it, he has a host of emotional baggage that he's working with.  Said emotional baggage generally manifests itself with anger issues, self esteem issues, and a history of problems in school - both with behavior and learning. He came to us primarily to try the school in our area, as a means to a fresh start with both his peers and with school admdinistration.

After learning how to navigate the special education system, and our local school working very closely with me, he was doing ok. Not great, not good, just ok. And then he started getting in enough trouble with his peers that his anger came out full force, and he started being in the office calming down more than he was in class.

So, three out of school suspensions later, I'd learned a lot. About the kid. About the school. About me. About how the system had spent years failing him, with no one noticing and everyone just passing him up to the next grade. Here was a 7th grader, crying in frustration over math (that I found during a week long suspension because the school didn't have assignments to send home). A 7th grader, who was supposed to take the state mandated STAAR test in April, where failure meant remedial classes, the further ridicule of classmates, and potentially being held back a grade. A 7th grader, who when dealt with in a one-on-one setting we discovered didn't understand multiplication.

Of course he's frustrated! Of course he's having trouble with more complicated concepts! He's missing key blocks in his foundation of knowledge!

So, in late March, we started homeschooling him. Now, Texas apparently has some of the least strict homeschooling laws in the country. I don't need a cover school, or to turn in a lesson plan. I just have to sign a letter saying that I am going to cover core subjects, like math, reading and citizenship.  So we've spent the last few months figuring out learning styles, experimenting with different homeschool methods and structures, and generally figuring out what works best for us. We're what's called "eclectic homeschoolers".

And so we're at the end of one journey,  and setting out on a new one.

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