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Public Education Failed My Child

So I Started Unschooling Her Instead

Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

There are a lot of things going on the world right now that have me enraged on a daily basis.

I think most of us can agree that things are double plus ungood right now, and while I worry about things like not having any savings, not having steady income, whether I’m doing my best as a mom to a child with disabilities, there is one terrible thing that I have been able to make better in our lives: the public education system.

How, you ask, did I make public education better for my daughter?

I opted her out.

I decided to homeschool.

My daughter is autistic, which causes her to have extreme social issues with other children her age, she has ADHD which makes it incredibly hard to focus in a classroom with 26 other kids, and she is also intellectually disabled, so she learns and matures much slower than typical children.

When it came time to put her in middle school, certainly one of Dante’s forgotten circles of hell, I panicked on her behalf.

Middle school is hard enough on typical children, and I could only imagine how terrible it would be for her to be among “kids” who are maturing (in body and mind) at an accelerated rate when I’ve lost the battle of bringing a stuffed animal to school with my eleven year old.

Schools don’t do enough to prevent and handle bullying, that’s a given, but that’s a whole other post.

Public school completely failed my disabled child.

When we started our homeschooling routine last fall, a routine that has evolved to become a sort of Montessori unschooling hybrid, I discovered exactly how far behind she was compared to other kids her age.

For five years my daughter, Elise, was shuffled through the grades with a modified curriculum and included in most class time (usually with an aide to keep her on track) to be exposed to all the ideas and concepts as the other children.

She was pulled out of class every day for math, which again was a modified curriculum of what the other kids were doing, and a few days a week to help with reading comprehension.

Now, I’ll admit I wasn’t keeping my finger on the pulse of her education last year.

Her school had a no-homework policy, so it was hard to keep track of what she was doing based on what she was bringing home, and anyone who has an autistic child with ADHD and a low IQ knows how hard it is to get concrete, coherent information out of them.

But what I realized when I started working with Elise one on one completely stunned me.

She was eleven, and didn’t know how to tell time.

She was helpless when it came to the concept of money.

She couldn’t subtract two digit numbers.

I was stunned, and heartbroken.

And really, really pissed off.

I knew right away that I had made the right decision to homeschool, because finally I would be able to teach her the things that are actually important in life, and not just allow her to be exposed to “concepts and ideas” along with the emotional abuse and isolation that came with being different in a world that hates different people.

I just couldn’t believe that the answer of public education to the mysteries of kids with disabilities is to just push them on through, grade after grade, because you can’t have an eleven year old in a third grade class, even if that’s the level they are on, emotionally and academically.

No. The public school system will allow your children to remain ignorant so they can remain unbothered by them.

So they don’t have to spend extra money on them.

So they don’t have to spend extra money on them.

Every child is different, this we know, but the public education system doesn’t cater to differences.

It really should be called the “Standardized Education System”.

Homeschooling and unschooling are a huge part of our lives now, and I look forward to writing more about it, sharing our experiences, and seeing what everyone else thinks of public education in the US, and whether you’ve decided to homeschool if it’s failed you, too.

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