Monday, August 20, 2012

Back To School (or not)

Some of our friends and neighbors are getting ready to start the new school year.  I have mixed feelings about this, most definitely. We live very near the neighborhood school that Light attended last year, so we drive by several times a week. I always look at the large announcement board hanging on the outside of the building that lists the goings on for the month. It’s starting to fill up- new student orientation, school spirit day, kindergarten reception, room rep meetings (I was a room rep for Light’s kindergarten class last year). Seeing the schedule makes me feel the loss. Truly the school had a great community. The families were wonderful. The students were wonderful. The neighborhood is wonderful. So, I do, I feel the loss. I love the hubbub of group activities. I love being involved in organizations. I love being around students and parents. So I am sad that we won’t be experiencing those kinds of things.

But, I think about the anxiety level that Light had when he had to ride a school bus on a field trip, even though I was also attending. I think about his sensitivities to specific kinds of discipline. I think about how his need for intellectual stimulation and challenge is a huge part of who he is. I think about how challenging it is for him to be in large groups of people and without the academic challenge to motivate him to deal with those stressors, he was miserable. I know that we have made the right decision. I think about the administration that had absolutely no interest in working with us to improve things for Light. I think about his kindergarten teacher who had absolutely no understanding of how a gifted mind works and the asynchrony, challenges and intensities that go along with that I think about how kindergarten was supposed to be fun for him and nurturing and a place for him to figure out his challenges and use his strengths. It was supposed to be a welcoming, fun environment that introduced us to the next 12 years of public education. None of that happened for him.

What happened for him were daily stomachaches and over all body aches on our M-F walks to school. What happened was Light crying himself to sleep every night. What happened was watching an angry child take over my happy, secure, curious, loving boy. What happened were conversations about feeling different, feeling misunderstood, feeling unappreciated. What happened to us were inaccurate labels and negative reports that were gross misunderstandings of what was happening with Light. What happened was an educator’s projection of her own family’s “issues” onto our son. What happened were suggestions for how to “fix” him, to help him conform to the norm, to fit in.

We know from experience, from hereditary that he will most likely not ever “fit in” to the “norm.” But we also know from experience, from heredity that who he is is an amazing human being just as he is, who doesn’t need to be fixed, but needs a special environment to help him reach his full potential.

So, I am excited for our own home schooling year, but I feel sad. I know things will change, they already have. I have lost touch with some of the moms that I thought I wouldn’t lose touch with. I loved the morning chit chat, the “late start Fridays”, the before pick up gossip and catching up. The thing is, I feel that loss, I don’t think that Light really feels it. I have to be careful, very careful not to put those feelings of nostalgia onto him. I loved school (although in hindsight, I can’t say that it was really beneficial). I wish I was more of a free spirit and I think my fear of getting in trouble kept me from my full expression.

What I won’t miss are the daily battles to get ready in the morning. I won’t miss the daily battles with homework. I won’t miss the daily battle of finding something to pack for lunch everyday. I won’t miss the daily battle with my gut and my intuition telling me that this was not right for us.

The thing is, we have friends. We have awesome friends. We have a great community. We have fantastic neighbors and now we have met some wonderful new friends who are also on a home schooling path. I will still feed my need to be around other people, to be social, to chit chat. And Light will have opportunities to practice these skills as well without all the extra stress that goes along with it. So, I am excited for this new adventure. It feels exhilarating and liberating. And we can be on our own schedule and do things exactly the way that will work for our family.

I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy school year whether you are following a traditional school path or paving your way on a home schooling path. Here’s to a year of loving, living and learning! 


  1. You nailed it Kasi. I would do anything to go back 2 years and not have experienced 1st grade with my son good for you for seeing it so early and fixing it! Now...let's get together with Amy Wed :)

  2. I loved this. I have a 2 1/2 year old engineer. It is his greatest love to build things with all kinds of materials. Even cookies or bugles.