October 13, 2010 4 Comments
As I wrote about in a recent HubPages article, Tiffany and I decided to homeschool Jakob after having problems with bullies at school. The bullies themselves were bad enough (one in particular was guilty of at least one attack that went way past the definition of “bullying”), but we felt the school administration just wasn’t taking things seriously enough. If circumstances had been different (i.e., if we had assurances that the “main” bully who had Jakob on the ground kicking him viciously in the back), we might have continued trying to “work” (read: fight) with the school to get the other, admittedly less severe, bullying incidents addressed. But the school could not — would not — assure us that Jakob would not be attacked again (and I’m calling it what it was — and attack, not “mere” bullying) and, since we have the ability and the means to take Jakob’s education into our own hands that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We’re now three days into homeschooling, and it’s already proving to be a rewarding experience. We’ve always known that Jakob loved to learn stuff, even though he hated going to school. His grades have been quite good for the last several years of school; his lowest grade on his first (and, of course, only) report card from 6th grade was a 97, with five 100’s. This is without ever bringing home homework or a book to study for a test. He’s quite bright, if I do say so myself, but I think part of why his grades were so good is that he just wasn’t being challenged enough in school. Being able to see him go through his homeschool lessons and take his quizzes and think about what he’s learning is fascinating. His bright blue eyes light up as he’s doing his work.
We’re using an online curriculum supplier called Time4Learning.com, which I’ll write up a more in-depth review on later (probably over at HubPages). We chose it mainly because it has an affordable monthly fee and can be cancelled anytime in case we decide we want to try something else, but after looking into it in depth we’re pretty happy with it. We’re supplementing the “main” subjects provided by Time4Learning (Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science) with electives of our own design. My wife is utilizing her knowledge of art to provide Jakob with an art class and projects and I’m going to be teaching him creative writing. He’ll also have book reports, phys ed, and music.
I’ve heard at least one person say that perhaps our decision to take Jakob out of school will teach him that it’s okay to run from problems rather than face them. I must admit that’s a fear that I had initially too. However, I don’t feel that it would have even been possible to adequately face the problem, given the attitudes of the school administration. We told Jakob at one point that it was okay to defend himself, even if he got in trouble for doing so (we were told by the assistant principal in charge of bullying that if Jakob didn’t fight back the bully would be disciplined, but if he did they would both be suspended for “fighting”). Jakob’s not much of a fighter, however, and I think if he had tried to defend himself it would have only increased the hostility from the little brat attacking him. From all appearances, Jakob’s main attacker wasn’t going to get any better, and the aforementioned assistant principal’s statements to us didn’t exactly instill confidence that our son would be safe. She was more concerned with “getting to the bottom of the hostility” rather than facing the fact that this bully was going to end up hurting our son while she tried to psychoanalyze him. I believe it’s only a matter of time before the bully moves on to another target (actually, he already had at least a couple of targets other than our son); perhaps the next time he’ll get expelled and the other kids will be safe from him then. We just weren’t willing to let our son be the one to get hurt enough to take care of the problem once and for all.
There’s too many stories these days of young kids taking their own lives because they were bullied for years without any help from their parents or their schools. Maybe it’s an overreaction on our part, but we’re just not willing to take the chance that our son could be the next headline.