Friday, 8 September 2017

FFS Friday - Changes

I mentioned last week that Chai is homeschooling now. It's been a long time coming but I'm happy with our decision.

We had so many problems with his school and it was causing him a lot of stress. I didn't realise how his unhappiness was affecting the whole family until I took him out of school.

I felt stressed all the time. I always felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown and no matter what I did my stress levels didn't reduce. Chai was getting worse and worse. The last few weeks of his schooling he was coming out of class in sensory meltdown. That is not normal or healthy. 

I had so many meetings with his teacher and yet nothing changed. I spoke to her, his OT spoke to her, we both emailed her and yet nothing would change. Every day he was being punished for behaviours that he had no control over. After observing him in class his OT told me that he would never be able to do the things that his teacher wanted him to. Despite knowing that she didn't change her expectations.

I was getting increasingly angry and frustrated with her, to the point where I couldn't even look at her. I knew that homeschooling was going to happen, the only thing stopping me was worrying about how I 'd cope having Chai home all the time. His behaviour at home was very difficult to cope with and it made me not want to be anywhere near him.

The final straw came one Monday afternoon when Chai came out of school in sensory meltdown. I checked the board and once again he'd been put it time out. I struggled to get him to the OT and when we were there the OT told me that she'd been to the school to observe Chai. The teacher hadn't bothered to tell me, despite having had numerous opportunities to do so. It's my right as a parent to know what is happening with my child.

I spoke to my cousin who homeschools and she told me to just do it. I made the decision to homeschool and had a mini breakdown on the phone to my sister, worried about how I'd manage to stay sane. I knew I just had to suck it up and do what was right for my child, but I was so very worried that it'd break me. I needn't have worried. 

The next morning when Chai asked (as he did every day), if he could stay home, to his delight I said yes. He was thrilled. During the day we talked a lot about school, if he'd like to be homeschooled and how he'd cope not getting to see his friends every day. I was worried about him missing out on socialising with his friends as he's a very social child. He wasn't concerned. I made sure he understood that he wouldn't see his friends and that he couldn't go to school to play with them. 

We had a wonderful day. He was so happy and a delight to be with. When we were at a playground he laughed and I realised that I couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed. The next day (Wednesday) when we woke up he asked if he could stay home and again I said yes. We had another wonderful day and slowly I began to relax. I realised how stressed and unhappy we'd been. 

The boys stopped fighting, Eljay stopped having screaming tantrums and peace was restored to our household. On the Friday I sent Chai to school. He knew it was his last day. I wanted him to have the chance to say goodbye to his friends. In hindsight it wasn't the right decision.

I took him in to his classroom in the morning and his teacher would not make eye contact with me. That afternoon I picked him up. I went in to his classroom to clear out his desk. His teacher, the teacher's assistant and I were the only people in the room. I spoke to the teacher's assistant, Chai's teacher once again would not make eye contact with me. I made no effort to speak to her as I had nothing nice to say. 

That evening I got an email from her that I needed to get at the start of the year. If I had got it at the start of the year I would have been thrilled. When I got it I was angry as it looked like she was just trying to cover her ass. It was too little too late. The first line said that she was sorry she hadn't got the chance to talk to me that day. Bullshit! I emailed her and told her that Chai would not be returning to school.

After having spent the day at school Chai went backwards for a few days and the angry little boy returned, but when I reminded him that he was no longer going to school my happy child came back again. 

I can't believe how different he is now. I feel really bad that I let my child be placed under so much stress. I also feel bad that I didn't recognise how unhappy he was. How could I not notice my baby was miserable?

Before I struggled to get him to do anything educational, now he's happy to read, write and do learning activities. We haven't done a lot as I'm still waiting to receive the information from the Education Department, but I'm integrating learning in to our every day lives. Chai will even voluntarily read or write now that there's no pressure on him.

Every now and again he says things that make me feel so sad for him. A few days ago he told me that school was a dark, sad place.
He also told me that at home he's a normal boy and at school he's not. How awful. 

I don't know how things are going to look for us next year. Chai wants to go back to school so I suppose if he still wants to go next year I'll let him. I will not let him go back to the unhappy boy he has been this year. I'll give it a maximum of six weeks and if he's miserable I'll homeschool again.

I truly believe our education system needs to be totally overhauled. Six year old children should not be stressed and unhappy because of school. It's not healthy or natural to place our children in such awful situations. 

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