Children’s Issues

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Home Schooling Works

Published September 9, 2011 by megdedwards

Home schoolers are an odd bunch. You have those that chose to home school so they can challenge their child more than in the school system, and those that chose to home school to reject curriculums and testing.

Some kids are at home because they have emotional or intellectual issues, and some are there because they are involved with music, sports or the arts and don’t have the time for school.

People choose to home school for so many different reasons that I have given up assuming that I will have anything in common with another home schooling parent.

In our family we are ‘unschoolers’ who do not follow a rigorous schedule but do follow grade level supplementary work books. I know home schoolers who do a lot more work than us, and those who do a lot less.

Ultimately, no matter how different the style of home schooling, the results are pretty similar. Home schoolers almost always decide to go to school at some point, they get along really well with their siblings and they are all as smart and capable as they ever were going to be.

Home schooling is actually just an extension of how you parent. In our case we like to give our children the ability to choose. If they don’t want to go to school, they don’t have to, and they can if they want.

Although you might think children would give you mixed messages on this, we have found that they are quite clear. It is either, I am ready, let’s go, or no, I want to be at home.

I have been asked numerous times, by those who are clearly critical of our style, whether going in and out of school is upsetting for the children. I can say unequivocally, it is fine. When our kids say, this year I’d like to go to school, off they go. They have not missed any important information, and they adjust to the schedule and the social scene right away.

The teachers love home schoolers, because they want to be there and they enjoy learning, and the other kids at school could care less whether a kids was home schooled.

How enlightening to discover that the all-important curriculum that drives the poor teacher’s every move is actually just a hodge podge of information that they can pick up in a week!

Our three children are, respectively, in the second year of college, in Grade 9, and the youngest, at home. The child at home loves every second of it, just as the others did.

My utopian vision would be to have a ‘free’ school in my community. The children could go to the school in a casual manner, without the ‘punctuality and attendance’ emphasis so important to the school system at present (and only created to train the next generation to work in factories).

My most severe criticism of the school system is that they treat children like animals or nascent criminals. I believe that if the schools treated children with more respect and dignity, the children would behave better. And if we gave the children more freedom, every single child would be more cooperative and get better results from their studying.

That is my opinion, what is yours?

A Painful Topic, really, Painful

Published September 3, 2011 by megdedwards

A Painful Topic, really Painful

 

While we were in the park yesterday my little one said “I don’t like any games when I am lying down and someone is standing over me because of this” and waved her hand delicately over her crotch area. I said, “Oh, I see”.  She continued, “I don’t really like to say the words”.

A few years ago my youngest child told me that two boys, three times her age and size, were sexually assaulting her. The assaults were painful, strangely adult in mature, and, by the time she told me, becoming more bold and bizarre.

She had begun to show signs of stress, like clinging to me and sometimes screaming when she was alone and heard a strange noise. I didn’t know what was causing the behavior, and only put it together when she told me about the abuse. During the next year she would hide under a table when someone entered the room.

Our family’s nightmare experience with the shock, betrayal, stress, social workers, police interviews, medical sexual assault specialists, lawyers, and crown prosecutors, is over now, except it is not really ever over.

I can’t help but worry. Children keep so many thoughts to themselves and I don’t want her to ever think it was her fault.

Any parent reading this will surely feel the inchoate rage I felt when I realized my innocent baby of four years had been assaulted in my own house.

But you may be surprised to hear that not all friends and family reacted with empathy. We had a range of reactions from skepticism to outright criticism: they were only kids themselves; I should not have let the kids in my house; we should think of what the other family is going through; is she telling the truth?

From neighbours that reaction was painful, from friends it was unacceptable, and from family it was outrageous. Some relationships have been altered forever.

I guess all we wanted was an equally strong expression of outrage and disgust.

But I understand that it is hard to talk about sexual abuse, and I realize that I have learnt, in the most painful lesson ever, that I may have responded to abuse revelations made to me in the past with less outrage than I should have.

During the crisis we found the most empathetic and sensible reactions were from professionals like nurses, social workers and police, and from adults who had experienced sexual abuse as children.

I never really understood knew how pernicious sexual abuse of children was, and how rampant. When it happened to my daughter I saw it for what it was: a cruel assault on someone weaker.

The sexual element and the fact that it is often done by someone the victim loves or trusts, makes the crime even more destructive. It has a corrosive effect that can continue to burn and dissolve the heart and soul of the victim long after the act.

And this is magnified but our cultures inability to talk about the crime or charge the offenders.

I want my daughter to feel righteous indignation; I want her to feel like the boys are the ones who should be ashamed. And mostly she does.

I don’t want her to be quiet her on the subject, even if it makes people uncomfortable. She has told teachers and friends, and I hope she always feels empowered by our actions against her attackers.

Her experience is a reality that she shares with more school children than she realizes.

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