The more time I spend home schooling my son and interacting with him on a day to day basis, the more I understand that he has a purpose behind everything he does. He often has some logical (yes it might be his very own brand of logic) thread that he has followed to come to some conclusion or other. His many conclusions decide the course of his actions through out the day.
We tend to have a general impression of these kids with behavioural difficulties that leads us to believe they act on impulse a lot of the time. That they have very little empathy, especially when their reactions are explosive and aggressive. I am starting to see a different side and have a very different theory on that. I’ll go deeper into that in future posts though I think.
The day before his 7th birthday, which was on Friday the 26th of October, we were in BigW getting a few bits and pieces for his party on Saturday. I said that I needed to buy some wrapping paper for his present, and knowing that he loves planes and cars, I chose a brightly coloured paper with racing cars on it. He appeared at my elbow and said,
“I can tell you which one I would like if you want?”
Me: “Yes! Good idea, you show me which paper you like best”
Son: “That one with the Toy Story characters on it.”
Me: “Oh! I am surprised. I didn’t know you were interested in or liked Toy Story stuff!”
Son: “I don’t. (me looking slightly confused now, but I waited patiently for an explanation) But you have to rip wrapping paper to get it off the present, so it’s better if you have something you don’t like so you don’t mind when you rip it!”
Well! Who can argue with that logic?! I happily picked up the Toy Story wrapping paper and then let him choose his own birthday card, which made him extremely happy, and all was good.
I think we often interrupt our kids in the rush of life, and forget to pause long enough to listen to them and give them a chance to explain their choices or their behaviours. I had often wondered where he had got the idea to carefully un-pick the sticky tape on his gifts, taking a long time to open them. Now I know it was out of a need not to destroy paper which had been chosen carefully and thoughtfully by relatives who know him and what he likes! I should have known really.
A couple of years ago I made him a birthday cake in the shape of a train. When we all sang and then it was time to cut the cake he screamed and became really upset at the thought of us having to cut the cake. I learned that lesson really well, and although people think I’m either cheap or odd, he now has a round or square cake, with simple and messy icing on the top. No images of things he likes, and no shapes of things he likes, I don’t even write his name on there because he gets upset if you have to cut through his name! Fortunately, he tolerates it now when other people have fancy cakes that have to be cut into. That used to be quite a problem at other people’s parties….
On that same note, our hens, well one of them has finally laid her first two eggs! Oh the excitement was palpable! Do you think we were allowed to actually eat the eggs though? No…they were too precious apparently. He scooped up the lovely hen and gave her kisses and thanked her for the eggs. Eventually I sat him down and managed to convince him that the only reason she laid them was because she loves us so much and wants us to enjoy and eat her very healthy eggs instead of ones from the shop. Phew, he bought it and let me boil up the first one. I can tell you it was rich and yummy 🙂
As for our adventures with home schooling, it seems as though we are set to continue it well into next year. Having received a phone call this morning from the principal of his old school letting me know that in an “off the record” conversation with the principal of his potential new school for next year, she had discovered that they are not in a welcoming frame of mind towards him due to their need to follow process and protocol, and my request to not follow those processes and protocols in the best interest of the child. Hmmm. I really appreciated her candour, and it actually helped me make the final decision to let the system go completely for a while and continue on with the successes we have been having at home. So now I must begin the long and involved process of paperwork involved with getting him registered for home schooling. We may be doing this for a while, but you know what, I’m actually not frightened about it any more. What I am doing is working for him. He will learn how to be excited about learning and how to get motivated to find out about his world.
The main question everyone keeps asking me, and worrying about is whether he will be socialised effectively if he doesn’t attend an institution. My answer to that is twofold. Yes, and No. Firstly, “No” because he obviously won’t be surrounded by the every day hundreds of kids making noise and annoying him, supposedly getting him used to cooperating and putting up with different types of people and negotiating correct social behaviours. That is very true. However, he is simply not ready for that to happen at this stage in his development. He is not socialising appropriately as it is. Socialising is a very anxiety driven thing for him. He feels an urgent and desperate need to control all the people around him. When those people are his age or close to his age, and challenge him, and there are many of them… well… forget it.
“Yes” he will learn to socialise being home schooled because he will have the space and structure to allow him to learn it at his own pace. He will get chances to play with other kids every weekend and some week days. His socialising will be in small numbers though and partially supervised by an adult at all times until he feels comfortable enough to negotiate difficulties on his own in a productive and positive way. The other advantage of doing it this way is that he can avoid being bullied and teased. He is ‘different’ he is ‘unique’. That isn’t celebrated in today’s social interactions. The kids who succeed socially at school fall nicely in the middle of the bell curve, and at the risk of putting those kids down, which I really don’t mean to do… but factually, if you are in the middle of the graph, you are, by definition, ‘average’. Average works in schools. If you are exceptional in one subject or by your looks, or by your behaviours, or by your talent in one area or another, it is likely that you will be teased or bullied more than the kids who are average. It’s a shame that this happens in Western society, but it just does. So, by being at home, he will only have to deal with being teased or bullied on the odd occasion in a playground or park, but he won’t have to experience it for 6 hours a day 5 days a week. That’s OK by me thanks.
We are at a happy point right now, so lets see if that continues. I will be posting a book review in the next couple of days to update everyone one what I’ve been reading lately, and I’ve been reading a LOT! 🙂