Why do we homeschool? Here is our story, buckle up..
***Truth- I was concerned about writing this because it is such a personal issue. It is something I think back on often and wonder if we handled it right, or what we should have done differently. I also needed time to process the whole situation. It took place over several months and was very emotional for our entire family.***
What do you do when the public school system begins to fail your child? What do you do when your child, who loved school a month ago, is now making herself physically sick over worries about school? What do you do when the people who are suppose to protect and help guide your child are completely turning a blind eye to situations happening during school hours? Suddenly we were faced with all of these questions in October of 2016.
In August 2016 we packed up our daughter and all of her supplies and sent her off to her very first day of First Grade. We were excited for this new chapter in her life and so was she. She walked in that first confident, proud, full of excitement for the year ahead of her. We took the traditional first day pictures and walked her to class. It was suppose to be an easy, fun, successful year.
Fast Forward – 1 month
September came and along with it came complaints of name calling. We encouraged her to speak up, first to the person picking on her and if that didn’t work, tell the teacher. It started out slow, he is saying I am lying, she is saying I am mean. She lives with her heart on her sleeve and she took these words to heart, they hurt. We encouraged her to talk these things out with her friends, let things go, listen to her friends and try to respect their feelings. We encouraged her to problem solve. We encouraged her to talk to her teacher about how to solve these issues. We tried to step back and let our sweet, energetic, loving 7 year old to navigate the world of friendship on her own.
In the meantime I started seeing a change in our child. She was extremely short tempered, she was mean to her little sister, she cried all the time and she start getting physical at home. She was struggling and we became extremely worried. She stopped talking to us about school and told us everything was fine.
At first we did the normal thing. We thought, “this is just a phase” and we just doubled down as parents. We demanded our house rules be followed and sent her to her room for breaking the rules. That didn’t work, it made things worse. After about a week of trying, to find out what was really going on with her, she finally opened up. She was afraid to be at school. She just told us things were not getting better and she HATED school. I told her that she was not alone and that I would contact the teacher. I told her that since she had tried to fix the situation that now it was my turn and I promised her I would help her.
After that she started opening up more a little everyday. She would get in the car and tell me all the good things that happened at school and then get really quiet and would tell me what bad thing had happened that day. One day it would be “he called me a b****”. The next it would be that she got hit in the head on purpose and got told to “go away”. She was shoved down on the playground by a group of older boys for asking to join in on a game, She was hit in the head with a teether ball for saying “hi” to a friend, She was being threatened to be punched by the kid next to her in line, he would physically raise his fist at her, daily. She had asked the teacher to move spots and according to her the teacher denied that request.
I couldn’t believe we had heard nothing about any of this from the school or teacher. I sent emails to get the other side of the story. I know my child isn’t perfect. I know she loves to tells stories and be dramatic, both a good and bad quality at times. We just wanted to know how to handle the situation and what to do? Our first instinct was to react big but we choose to reach out for the other side of the story.
My heart broke more every day, and my 7 year old started having severe anxiety about going to school. She would cry on the way to school. After school she would collapse in the car and for hours and would not say a word as if she just finished running a marathon and was both physically and mentally exhausted. I felt like I had failed her for putting her back in that environment everyday. She was hurting and her anxiety about school was getting worse. I felt that this was an important lesson, to push through the bad, to keep going. We would fix this and it would get better, or at least that is what I kept telling her. We tried to contact the teacher and were not getting a response. We waited over a week (it feels like years when your child is hurting) and then we scheduled a meeting with the principal.
I will post about how we handled the situation and about where we are currently in Part 2 tomorrow. What would you do in our situation? What do you do when the school isn’t handling the physical violence? What options do you have as a parent when the school is failing your child?