Pumpkin is homeschooled through a charter. We tried to go it alone for a while, but my budget is as tight as Beyonce’s bloomers (so to speak). We found a charter that would work with us. I can pretty much do what I want in exchange for a few standardized tests which we weather. They give me a certain amount of school funds which I can spend however I want at any of their vendors (with very few exceptions). There are other charters that serve our area which offer more funds, but those tend to offer less freedom and they aren’t as good with 2E kids. Also, ours has a lending library and (most importantly) a learning center. I can purchase classes for Pumpkin — you know, the type we really can’t do alone like Music Theater.
Last year Pumpkin took Music Theater. One class, once a week. He loved it. Our deal was that if he had a successful year, he could have a full day — four classes at the Learning Center. Don’t confuse this with the threat of the last post, these are really fun classes, and because River Springs is used to homeschooled kids, many who are unschooled, they are much more understanding of kids like Pumpkin.
I’m still working on a 504. This is a parent directive to the school to tell them how to handle a child who needs kid-gloves. Pumpkin’s diagnosis has been difficult. We’ve done the back and forth thing for several years where one doctor diagnoses something and the next doctor disagrees, rules it out, and we end up with nothing. I finally got a psychiatrist to settle on something and to put it on paper for the school, but the paperwork will take a while. Meanwhile, I sent a heads-up to the teachers. One of his teachers spoke to me on the phone about this. It was a nice conversation. And today, he attended his second class with her. I got home and found an email from her.
If you know any of our history, you might be able to imagine my trepidation. Pumpkin had a disastrous kindergarten year in public school. Everything that could go wrong did. I tried moving him from a teacher who was ignoring his issues (and essentially leaving him on the playground unsupervised) and ended up in another school with the least flexible kindergarten teacher in America (okay, I don’t know this, but she sure seemed that way) who was so rigid that his issues became exacerbated. She topped things off by actually striking my child, after which I pulled him from public education. In all of these cases, I’d ask how he was doing and get the typical “fine” that tells me nothing, until things got bad enough for the teacher to contact me, at which time I’d get a laundry list of things wrong with my kid. Basically, a note from the teacher was always a terrible thing because it would lead to horrendous meetings where the problem would turn into problems and I’d feel like I’d had everything heaped on me at once.
This note was nothing like that. This wonderful woman wrote me to tell me she’d had a really good day with Pumpkin. She assured me that she’d followed the suggestions I’d offered and that he’d had fun and was incredibly bright. In the right environment he can really be a joy to teach. Yay! A note from the teacher where I didn’t come away feeling like a total failure as a parent. If public school had offered that, he could have thrived there. This is why so many teachers are leaving regular institutions for charters — education the way they thought it would be when they were in college.