There are a few questions that we’ve been asked over and over since June and it seemed like a good idea to document what’s been going on.
What prompted us to take Brandon in for allergy testing?
Two things came together at about the same time. We had received an email from Brandon’s teacher that he was falling asleep in class. We didn’t think anything of it until a couple of weeks later when he came home and said he wasn’t allowed to go to recess the rest of the year (this was May). He was required to go to the health room to nap instead. That’s when we found out there was a recurring, systemic problem. I called a conference with his teacher and found out he was alternately sleeping or disruptive and hyper. Around the same time, we had gone out to a restaurant and he had consumed a little bit of cantaloupe which made him sick immediately. With my own history of food allergies, little red alarms were going off in my head.
Upon testing, Brandon reacted to every food tested except egg. Wheat, soy, milk, rice, potato, tomato, sugar, chocolate, yeast, and one more (I’m always missing one when I list them). We eliminated all of these foods from his diet and noticed improvement in his general demeanor, control, and energy level very quickly. As I posted earlier, he’s down to just four of these foods that truly cause a problem.
Okay, so he has food allergies. So what does this have to do with homeschooling? Seems like a leap.
I agree, it was a decision prompted by an emotional reaction. I had a conversation with the school principal and nurse that made clear that they believed that Brandon was being deliberately disobedient and that our choice of pursuing food testing was ridiculous. The principal was utterly unhelpful, immovable, and did absolutely nothing to help us get through the last few weeks of the school year.
Though a bit impulsive, I still believe it has been the best move for him this year. Brandon spent last school year being yelled at. He was in trouble in music class. He was in trouble in his regular classroom. He was in trouble in the health room because he couldn’t sleep on command. While Brandon projects himself to be a self-confident, social, extrovert, we have learned that he is actually quite insecure, anxiety ridden, sensitive, and folds into himself when stressed. Our goal is to spend this year (and probably next) finding ways to build up his confidence again.
What about socialization?
Oh my, the number 1 question posed to homeschoolers everywhere. I could cite so many books, links, resources that answer this question. In short, in the real world we socialize with people of all ages. So do homeschoolers every day. There’s nothing that says kids need to be in a group of kids the same age in order to turn out just fine.
That said, yes, Brandon is still playing soccer with the same group of kids he’s played with for years. He is attending school at Edmonds Heights K-12, a parent-participation alternative school formerly known as the Homeschool Resource Center two hours a week. He participates in Sunday School and church activities. He’s not learning in isolation.
What does homeschooling look like for him? What’s he learning?
He’s taking a game-programming class called RPGMaker. He’s taking Class Piano. At home, we’re working through a lab-based Chemistry curriculum. For literature, he’s reading The Hobbit and is looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out. The rest of the year, we have King Arthur and Robin Hood on the agenda. For Social Studies, we’re working through Story of the World Book 2 (The Middle Ages), which includes a lot of fun little projects that bring history to life. He’s also studying the election process, of course. He’s working through a standard math text. He’s looking forward to participating in Nanowrimo again this November for creative writing. He’s working on a super-secret video project that combines his love of video games with learning new technology. We’re looking forward to attending a few Seattle Children’s Theater productions (at inexpensive homeschooler rates).
Because we are enrolled through Edmonds Heights, he is still considered a public school student and as such, we are required to report his monthly progress to the school, to spend at least an hour a week with a certificated teacher, and to meet with an advisor three times a year. On the flip side, we have access to a great library and many encouraging people, and we are held accountable, which is helpful.
How is it working to homeschool and work at the same time?
It’s truly a challenge. Most days I don’t feel like I’m balancing everything very well. I know that we are doing this for the right reasons and God has control of the situation. I’m at the office very little right now, and Brandon often comes with me. We’re learning how and when he learns best (which is a day by day struggle depending on what he ate the day before). I’m praying that by the time tax season comes around again we’ll have this figured out a bit more, but realistically I think it’s just going to be a challenging time. I am, most days, truly enjoying getting to know Brandon better and exploring and experiencing learning in different ways.
What is the plan for next year? What about middle school?
We expect to homeschool through next year (6th grade) and he’ll move into Meadowdale Middle School with all of his friends in 7th grade. Only God knows if that’s truly how it will work out.
Any other questions I’ve missed?
I’m happy to try to answer them.