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Another Reason for Our Income Mix-Up

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There has been something else going on that was helping to drive the cutting of my hours. I have debated discussing it on here because it involves our son. I try to respect privacy as much as I can so that’s why I don’t write about neighbors or my siblings. Discussing my son is tough. I don’t want him to grow up and be mad that I discussed him. But I would welcome some public comment on it so I am treading lightly with it and keeping out some of the details.

Let’s just say that another reason I wanted to cut my hours was so I had more time to work with my son with school-related items. Even with some extra assistance at school, my son is struggling. He’s a bright kid, but he needs extra guidance that a teacher with 24 kids in the class cannot give. For example, he brought home a worksheet that was littered with wrong marks. I sat down, explained it to him and he was able to complete it just fine.

When I was working full-time, he wasn’t very receptive to doing more work by the time I got off work. He was already in “winding down” time and even reading was met with frustration. Since cutting my hours, I have been able to work with him about an hour a day shortly after he gets home from school. Then he starts shutting down. I can’t say I blame him. After 8 hours of work I don’t really want to go back to work either. So I have been trying to have some structured work with him and then I sneak things in here and there.

In the back of my mind, I am wondering if homeschooling would be the best option. Homeschooling isn’t cheap, though. While you can do it frugally by finding used material or by using some of the great free information on the internet, there is also the lost income of the parent that is teaching to take into consideration. That is the part I am really having a hard time with right now. Then again, I asked him the other day if he likes school. For the first time since preschool, he said he didn’t like it. He is even concerned with his performance and frustration is setting in. I can sense that his attitude towards learning is turning sour and that really concerns me.

Even if all of our debt was paid off (mortgage and school loans included), homeschooling would still be rough on our finances. It is a tough decision to make for more than just the financial implications, but that is a big one for us to overcome at this point. I’m wondering if any of you reading out there has been in a situation like ours and would be willing to offer some insight.


37 Comments

  • Reply Jared |

    You might try getting the book Learning How to Learn, published by Applied Scholastics. It will help him be able to help himself in the classroom when the teacher doesn’t help him. I use the same principle daily in my life to make sure I understand things while I’m working and doing computer programming. They are very helpful and very simple.

  • Reply Janelle |

    We homeschool and you are right, it is a financial sacrifice. But, with that said, working part time and homeschooling is not only possible but can be done with great success! I have 4 kids at home that I am homeschooling and I work part time on average 20 hours a week. Some of that work time is outside my home, some is inside.

    All of my kids have different challenges: one has autism, one ADD, one is dislexic and one is gifted. Even so we make it work! With only one child you could easily work part time and homeschool.

    Feel free to email me if you’d like more specifics but basically being organized and keeping to a routine is key. My husband also helps with math and science. It can be done! 🙂

  • Reply Suburban Wife |

    I’m not necessarily in the same situation as you but I’ll comment anyway 😉

    I started out as a stay-at-home mom and decided to homeschool when my oldest was 4. She’s 16 now. Our daughter is no longer homeschooled — she went to high school two years ago — but our son is still at home and will most likely graduate from high school at home.

    I currently work (from home), have a small home business, and homeschool. Since we started our family journey on one-income-plus-supplements, we never faced the dilemma of giving up an income we’d learned to be dependent upon.

    As for the expense of homeschooling — much of that is determined by the methods you choose and your educational philosophy. I’ve always been an unschooler. While I’ve definitely spent money over the years on books and materials, etc, the money we’ve spent specifically on homeschooling materials has been negligible. What has been expensive are the classes, sports, and other activities they’ve participated in over the years — but these fees are the same ones paid by parents whose kids are in school.

    Only you can decide if your family can “afford” to homeschool but I encourage you to be open to the idea. The benefits cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

  • Reply Maria |

    Tricia: before I considered homeschooling (I have seven kids ages 6 to 18–all in public school and all doing very well) I would make an appointment with your son’s teacher and have a long chat about what is going on. Is he bored? Is someone bothering/teasing him and he does not know how to handle it? Is he getting enough attention? You should know what the teacher’s take on the situation is and then consider all of your options after that. I do think it is hard on kids when both parents are working full time (40 hours or more per week each). Kids are simply not getting their parents at their best. On the other hand, and especially in this tough economy, there are many kids whose parents are taking whatever work they can get. I’m sure you will figure out what is going on and then make the best possible decision for you and your family!

  • Reply Elizabeth |

    I don’t have anything to say on whether you should home school or not, but I want to say from the heart, bravo for putting your son and his learning first. I know it had to be hard to cut down on your work hours, but you have your priorities straight and that will serve everything in the long run. Including that you won’t pay for tutors later to help your son with what he’s not getting now!

  • Reply Kim |

    Tricia, I’m new to your blog, but I can relate to you in so many ways: the debt, whether to work or not, and a struggling child. My son had some physical/emotional problems three years ago in 5th grade. I’ll cut to the end result: we pulled him out of public school in December of that year and I started homeschooling him. Wow – it is soooo expensive! Not only with money, but with emotion (his and mine), time, and just knowing how/what to teach him (and I used to teach high school). This year, he is doing cyber school. It is wonderful! It is free (its public school at home!), someone other than Mom is in charge (important for us), and he is doing well. Ok, he could be doing better, but he’s doing ok. My son is very bright, but he’d rather be doing anything other than school! Check into cyber school in your state — we are in PA and my son is in PA Cyber Charter, but there are several here. Homeschooling works for many families, but it wasn’t quite what we needed — and with my son doing cyber, I’m free-er to have a part-time job. I hope this suggestion helps. Best wishes.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Maria – I have been able to observe what is going on since I am volunteering in the classroom. That has opened my eyes to many things as well. We’ve thought about putting him in another school because we have school of choice in Michigan. But with one car we worry about it breaking down and not being able to get him to school.

    I have had one long discussion with my son’s teacher and we’ll continue it during parent-teacher conferences. I am making up a list of points to cover. I am getting a pretty good picture of what is going on.

    Sigh – lots of decisions to make as a parent. We hope we make the right one!

  • Reply Curtis |

    There are many “flavors” of homeschooling. Schooling at home is what most people think of as homeschooling. It involves spending lots of money on books, because most parents are afraid they can’t teach their child anything without the help of someone else. Truthfully, if that’s your worry, then homeschooling shouldn’t be a thought. On our end of the block we are learning to Unschool. It’s a method of child directed learning that lets them follow their own passions and learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. Pick up a couple of books by John Holt, it’s easier (and cheaper) than you think.

  • Reply Jessica |

    I am actually going to come out against homeschooling. I had two full time working parents and attended public school, ending up graduating with high honors and I will currently be finishing my graduate degree in library science in June. My best friend was pulled out of school in 6th grade for homeschooling, and ended up flunking out of college because she was not used to being away from home and having to talk to professors in their offices and the like. I knew it was a bad move for her, as she was shy anyway. Consider why your son is having problems. If he is having trouble with kids, homeschooling will do nothing for him. If you decide to do it, make sure he is involved in lots of outside activities with others. We forget what a huge part of learning is tied in to socialization. I would suggest testing for dyslexia, skipping him a grade in a subject or two if he is bored, considering another school, etc.

    We also need to remember to make learning fun. In my field, I see so many kids forced to the library on feild trips who think they will hate it, only to have a good time. Homework sucks, but playing learning games and choosing books can be totally awesome. Fostering a desire to learn is so much more important than getting good grades on a test. It will help for a lifetime.

  • Reply mapgirl |

    Hey Tricia,

    Don’t give up on regular schooling just yet. Go and have that talk with the teacher and definitely try to find out what learning style is best for your child. It could be that he’s 1. bored. 2. needs glasses. 3. needs different presentation of material. 4. needs a tutor for only one or two things. 5. doesn’t test well. Or any number of things.

    I looked like a total failure at public school at one point, but really it was that I saw through the crap of busy work and was bored most of the time. Change of venue and different teachers made all the difference. Boredom is a huge factor. I was always by myself in kindergarten doing my own thing because my older sibling taught me to read when I was 3. By 5, I didn’t see the point of being read to by the teacher on the carpet with other kids when I could read what I wanted by myself. This gets you labeled as a ‘weird kid’ because you aren’t doing what everyone else is doing, but when the root issue was discovered, I got bumped to first grade and was still considered an intellectually precocious child. (It’s not a gift when you’ve been trained to enjoy reading by a parent with an English Lit degree.) School got better after that, and later in jr high it got bad again when I realized that busy work is boring and teachers were jerks with power trips.

    Good luck!

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    My son (now 20) struggles in school too. He’s dyslexic, has mild ADD (those are kind of related) and during his teen years he was diagnosed as clinically depressed.

    I was an at-home mother but I didn’t home school.

    I did volunteer. I also served on the PTA (that gave me the chance to see what was my son’s perception vs. everyone’s perception.

    We also put him in private school (small classes of 10 – 12 vs 25 – 30) for the middle school years.

    Some fortunate things happened because of that:

    1. My volunteering on the school yard meant I was hanging up my safety vest in the teacher’s lounge during his teacher’s prep time. So we had lots of heart-to-hearts. His problems came on dramatically in Grade 1. She took me off the school property one day to tell me, as a mother not a teacher, she was advising me to pull him out of her french immersion school and move him to the english school. The official line was that if you are LD it doesn’t matter if you are in french or english schools. She thought that was bunk and told me so.

    2. I volunteered in his LD classroom at the english school for 4 years. He was the only student in the program to ever return to the regular stream. That may have been a mistake. Due to family priorities (we travel together) and unbending teachers, he started his road to depression.

    3. Private school went well except for building his self confidence but they don’t take LD students (he was bright enough that he passed the entrance exams) so he had no accommodations. They felt he’d never graduate from high school. His first year of high school was easy compared to the private school standards!

    4. He did high school at our local public school. We live rurally and this school is multi-track, preparing students for whatever their future jobs might be. Our dentist, accountant, car mechanic, pizza guy and hair dresser all graduated from this school. The vice principal had been a student, it was her first teaching position and then she returned as admin and her son attended the school. He had ok LD support (I again volunteered in the LD class) and I had exceptional support from the administration (from volunteering on the PTA I knew them all well.) He made it through school, but only with the support and mentoring that comes from committed educators. It was a team effort and easily could have ended up with him in jail. He tried to drop out at one point and it was the principal who talked him out of it.

    There are lots of good people in the world so keep your eye out for them as your child grows. Include as many as possible in your lives. At some point, your son won’t want to have you around and at that point, the other adults in his life serve as your surrogate, watching out for him.

    He left high school with aspirations and was accepted into the college program he wanted. He dropped out of that after 4 months. He tried again with a local college, dropped out again after 4 months. He’s currently finishing up a 1 year night course that will lead to an industry designation but he really doesn’t test well (his dyslexia) and is terrified of the test.

    He works full time during the day (for a company that is full of those wonderful adults I referred to) and on the side for private clients. He makes pitiful wages but is happy and off his meds.

    Parenting is a life-sentence. I have no idea how his story will turn out because it is his life to lead. But I do know that keeping a wide number of people in our lives to help us with our son worked to his advantage in the long run.

    So, I’d recommend working within the school system for as long as you see some hope. Not by expecting them to do all the work but working alongside them as you all work together to help your son.

    But if your gut tells you it isn’t working, then follow your gut.

    That’s always my bottom line advise to any parent.

  • Reply Michelle |

    Regarding homeschooling, most states now have public schools that offer homeschooling options. I’m not sure if options is the correct word but they do have “virtual schools” they supply all the books and in my older son’s case, the schedule of what he is required to do each week. We only pay the normal registration fee as if he has gone to public school which is about $50 dollars here and it includes all the books. They even offer field trips and a weekly day called Fun Friday where all the homeschoolers go to the school and do some fun things. Email if you want to know more, I’m happy to help!

  • Reply Jennifer |

    I’m with Jessica on this one. A large part of schooling is the socialization of the child. If this is a problem with dealing with the teacher or classmates then he needs to stay in school and learn how to deal with it. If this is a learning disability problem then homeschooling might be the way to go but only after all the counseling options have been exhausted. Public schools have so much to offer but you need to press people to tell you about it sometimes.

    When I talk to my sister about her problems with her child I try to compare it to how her child would have to deal with this type of person/problem in a corporate setting. He needs to learn how to deal with this issue as a child, when it doesn’t matter as much, as opposed to as an adult when a small misstep can cost you your job/livelihood.

  • Reply Mike D. |

    My non professional opinion is that it’s good for kids to go to school to learn to interact and work with other people. I also know that for me personally I’m a pretty shy person, and if it wasn’t for school I’d probably be even more shy, and would have had a hard time making friends if I didn’t go to school. It’s the same what that now in my career even though part of me would like the simplicity of working at home I also know it’s beneficial for me to get out and go to work to socialize with my co-workers. I do know people who have been homeschooled who are extremly outgoing, and play well/work well with others, so I guess it’s just a matter of everyone is different and it’s something to keep in mind.

  • Reply MB |

    Tricia, first I would like to say that I have huge admiration for you because you are willing to give your son the time he needs to do well. We need more parents like you.

    It is not my intention to over-interpret or insult, but I would suggest you consider, if possible, looking into a health checkup for mental health, hearing, and vision for your son. A problem in one of these areas can contribute to problems in school, and they are all treatable. I know that your son is older than this, but I worked at a preschool for a while and this was one of our early approaches in response to a child having problems at school.

  • Reply Jackie |

    Tricia,
    I enjoy reading your blog. Having been homeschooled, I will have to say that it takes an inordinate amount of self-discipline for it to be successful. It is a full time job with the teaching and then preparing the next day’s work. There are ways around the socialization – I took art classes that actually taught me how to interact with adults not just groups my own age. Thanks to my parents (my mother had a master’s in electrical engineering and my step-father had a Ph.D. in literature) I was more than prepared for college. However, I cannot stress enough the amount of work they had to put into it- my mother was a stay-at-home mom and my stepfather was a professor who did not have to be somewhere 50 hours a week.
    I wish you luck in your decision.

  • Reply Curtis |

    Yikes… everyone has to flap about homeschooling and socialization. I went to public school and have a BS and MBA. You don’t get socialization in school either. You get to be quite when you are done with your work and stand in line. Fifteen minutes of recess everyday does not “socialization” make. I know FAR more unschooled kids who are much more world wise than anyone from a public school. Coming from a family of early childhood and elementary school teachers I can say this, children learn through play, not through sitting down and doing worksheets. Our schools are built around teaching kids to work in a factory from 80 years ago. They have not been revamped for the new “flat” world. People adapt to that from what they learn outside of the schools.

    Tricia, about your son. I promise you, there is not one thing he will learn on that worksheet that will be a life changing experience. When he’s ready to learn something and has a desire to learn it, then it will come and it will be easy. Worksheets carry no meaning, but are chores that must be done. From my own experience, there is not one thing I need to know today that I wouldn’t have learned by not going to school or being lectured to from a text book.

  • Reply KF |

    I suggest exploring other times to work with him, which might work better for his attention span and would allow you to work full-time. When I was in school, I never did homework right after I got home. I needed to unwind, play outside, eat, and generally separate myself from school. Then I would start doing my homework (and getting help from my mom or dad) in the early evening.

    There are also other options for who can help your son while you work. For example, it seems like your husband works a lot less and I’m not sure why he can’t help your son right after school. You could also look into hiring a local high school student as a tutor. I’m sure many of them would be happy to do it for less than you are paid per hour, and your son might be more receptive to working with a non-parent.

    Additionally, homeschooling seems like a huge over-reaction given your situation. Your son is having normal struggles, and you don’t need to react in such an extreme fashion. He hasn’t proven that he has any especially unique education needs, and there are many smaller interventions that could do the trick. Public schools offer endless benefits in terms of socialization, friends and peer groups, learning life lessons, etc. Furthermore, there is a lot of research showing that a disproportionated number of home-schooled kids have terrible outcomes. Of course, some children excel and their parents are excellent teachers. But, the majority are taught by parents who have no business acting as teachers and end up suffering as a result.

    Also, I’m not suggesting that you go into debt or spend lots of extra money. But, if your possibly willing to take the financial hit of home schooling, wouldn’t it be cheaper to take a number of other steps like getting a newer car so you could drive him to some other school, hiring a tutor, putting him in some other after school tutoring program, using additional online resources, etc? You seem to have chosen the most extreme, most expensive potential option.

  • Reply Tricia |

    KF – unfortunately, it is not normal struggles. I have kept out some details out of respect for my son’s privacy.

  • Reply Tonya |

    Yikes…..I can’t get over the negative take on homeschooling or the tired assumption that homeschooled children are lacking in socialization. A shy child is a shy child whether in public school or homeschooled. Sending a child to public school does not mean that the child will be properly socialized anymore than homeschooling means a child will be lacking in socialization.

    I have two very social children who I, at the moment, homeschool. My son had some needs that were not being met by the public school and in fact he was being made to feel that he was a failure. As a homeschooling parent it is my goal to create an atmosphere in which my children love to learn. We do not shelter our children and they socialize with all kinds of folks. They have close friends and my son just attended the local high school’s homecoming dance.

    It is our philosophy to take it year by year. At the end of each year we evaluate where we are, where our children are, what we want to get out of the next year and how that is best achieved. So far homeschooling has worked well for our family. We are considering public school (or a private school) next year for a number of reasons, but the final decision won’t be made for 6 months.

    Tricia, you know your son and his situation better than anyone here. I’d be happy to talk to you about this if you want to email me and give you some honest input on the pros and cons of homeschooling from someone who has been there.

  • Reply Kasey |

    In response to Curtis’s “You don’t get socialization in school either. You get to be quite when you are done with your work and stand in line. Fifteen minutes of recess everyday does not “socialization” make” What about lunch time, time in between classes, before class, during gym, after school? I remember lots of times I spent socializing in school.
    Tricia if your son is really having a hard time maybe you need to have him tested for a learning disability. I know when I was a kid I excelled in math but was AWFUL in reading (I think I was slightly dyslexic). It took years but I finally came around and actually started to like reading.

  • Reply nygirl |

    Hi Tricia: I went through a similar situation with one of my kids and found out that she was having a hard time with one of the kids in the class picking on her. You may want to see if talking with your son a little more sheds some light on whether or not something like this is going on. The other thing that crossed my mind is that he may also be bored….

  • Reply mimi |

    There are so many options for supplementing regular school, and I suggest you do a lot more research (if you haven’t already) before jumping to home schooling. As someone else suggested, there are lots of tutoring options. You can hire a local high school or college student, you could hire a “professional” tutor (such as a former teacher who now works as a tutor), you can look into supplemental classes that can be offered by outside groups after school or on the weekends. There are resources and programs online. You can enroll your son in a different school (if transportation is the main obstacle, solving that problem is surely cheaper than quiting work to home school). If you do decide on home schooling, couldn’t your husband do it since it seems like he hasn’t worked full-time for ages (other than trying to get your business of the ground, which he can still do from home when not teaching)?

  • Reply Dawn |

    I can’t help but remember college when they gave you a syllabus on the first day of a class. You know what is going to be taught when. Too bad they don’t do that in K-12. That would make me feel more empowered to find ways to supplement the curriculum taught at school during my time at home with my kids.

    Follow your instincts as a mom, they will point you in the right direction. 🙂

  • Reply Catherine |

    Good for you, Tricia. Parents who are involved and care for their children at some personal sacrifice have a much greater effect on a child’s success than any school.

    I have had a similar, if opposite, struggle with my daughter. I wanted dearly to homeschool for many reasons. But in my state, if I homeschool or send her to a private school, I lose certain services (specifically social speech therapy) that are essential at this point to her development. It is difficult to send my daughter to public school every day. I have numerous issues with the school and its environment. But I have to do this until I can find another way to get her what she needs. She’s far ahead of her class in skills (I’ve taught her to read and do simple sums), so I worry about boredom. She soaks up her environment, so I worry about bad influences. It is our lot as parents to worry. But if we always put our child’s needs (not necessarily wants) first, our families and our children will fare the best that is possible.

    We will be praying for you guys.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Mimi – my husband has a part-time job now outside of the home. He sometimes doesn’t even see our son all day except in the morning due to his hours.

    The thing about trying a different school is that we may just be spinning our wheels. There are no guarantees that the new school will have better special services for our son and he will continue to lag behind and get farther behind than he is. I know homeschool will help because I am aware of his strengths in learning. While I am not a teacher, in the past I have been a professional tutor for elementary and middle schoolers.

    Like you, Catherine, we stand to lose some special services for our son if he is homeschooled. But in Michigan, there appears to be a way to still get those services if you homeschool. I’m still researching that. It will help guide our decision as well since the services can be pricey if we do it on our own.

    No decisions will be made until I talk more with his teacher and talk with a few professionals first.

  • Reply Liz |

    I am a first grade teacher and although I’m not sure the specifics of your child I would suggest speaking with your child’s teacher. I would hope the teacher would be able to give some suggestions. Maybe moving his seat, giving him a little private area to work could help. They also have some programs in certain schools for kids with learning issues. You could also speak with the school counselor if they have one about school anxiety ,etc. Good luck!

  • Reply Claire in CA, USA |

    We homeschool, and have for five years. My dd is 14, ds is 12. We struggle like crazy, but there is no better investment than our kids. We are in it for the long haul; right through high school.

    I have friends who hs through a charter school; all their materials are paid for. In fact, they are able to send their kids to music classes at a studio in town, since you have a choice as to how you allocate the money you are given for school materials.

    I am in CA, and every state has different laws. To check our your state’s laws, go to Home School Legal Defense Fund’s website. They have lots of good information there.

    One more thought: I believe your son is very young (like under 7?). School takes an hour or two at the most at that age. You really wouldn’t need to cut back your work hours; you can school at any time of day or night. All the rest of the time, you can be instilling your morals and values into him, and showing him how to live life.

  • Reply danielle |

    I think homeschooling is admirable, however, I do not believe it is important enough to jeopardize family finances over. My humble opinion is that if a family is in debt, they should work towards getting out, explain this to their children, and if homeschooling is still a goal when they get out, then pursue it…

  • Reply liz |

    Hi, wishing you the best with your decision, but I must advise as follows. I lived in Michigan, unwillingly, as my husband got a great job there. My children were enrolled in “the best” schools in Birmingham, MI, and I despised the school, it was regimented, the work was boring and there was too much of it, and the teachers, at least in middle school, did not impress me. I moved to NJ when my husband died and my son went to high school here, except for a semester when I pulled him out to homeschool him. although he hated it, he found out that he could teach himself stuff, and that he was really good at science. I think you are getting too stressed out about being a good homeschooler,let’s face it–you know your own kid better than anyone, and you will probably make better choices than anyone for him. don’t let others intimidate you, do what you think is right. I let my son go back to school after a semester because he is very social and missed his friends. I think that was okay too. I wish you the best with this, and I would advise anyone with kids who suffer ADD etc to see a nutritionist or an allergist, because that might be the real problem.

  • Reply Curtis |

    Kasey, what you may not realize is that homeschool kids do all of that and more. The number of field trips, park trips, and group activities that go on have them spending more time socializing with other kids daily than a typical school day. Not to mention those interactions aren’t forced to only groups of kids the same age. It’s real world interaction, and those interactions teach them things that kids in school just don’t learn. Nearly every major university in the country has a special recruiting process to try and get homeschoolers into their schools. The specifically WANT them over kids from public schools because of their performance. Even the likes of Harvard have programs for that.

  • Reply Vanessa |

    Please, please do not homeschool your child… I have friends who were homeschooled from more than one family and they are having a very difficult time adjusting to the “real” world… kids need to be socialized with other kids from all different backgrounds to know how to live in this world… my child was having similar problems in school when she was younger and the school system where I live in Canada really helped out and recognized that she has a slight processing problem in the way she learns… they did a proper assesment and implemented a few small adjustments to help her and she is doing great! Please consider talking to the school about your concerns and getting an learning assessment done before taking him out of regular schoool…

  • Reply Vanessa |

    .. on a side note to my post above – I went to a very small private school set up like home-schooling… I had to teach myself all the subjects… we only had supervisors and while that did teach me to work hard on my own to achieve my goals I had a very difficult time adjusting when I went to College… I still had a hard time interacting with people when I entered the work force. I ended up creating my own business and I work at home… I guess it trained me for that but I still find it difficult working with and around others and I’m a long way from highschool… it bothers me and I swore I would not put my child through that!!
    Just my two cents though I do respect that you only want the best for your son… but please check all possibilities before deciding…
    and I love your site btw 🙂

  • Reply CathyG |

    Hello Tricia –

    I really empathize with your situation because we’ve been there, too.

    Our son began to show difficulty with reading in pre-K. He came out of a very good Montessori school so started Kindergarten in the public school on track for reading, but went steadily downhill. By the middle of 1st grade I knew something was terribly wrong and begged the school for help to no avail. I lucked into hearing about Dr. Sally Shaywitz’ book “Overcoming Dyslexia,” bought it and read it overnight and saw our son on every page. Because the school wouldn’t help us, we had him privately tested ($1200) and discovered that he’s quite severely dyslexic.

    In the fall of 2nd grade, we presented the results to the school and were told they had no legal obligation to accept outside testing and that he wasn’t far enough behind to qualify for their testing!!?!?!?! We fought this nonsense for over a year then finally, in the middle of third grade, pulled him from school for private dyslexia remediation and homeschooling.

    Yes, it was terribly expensive and yes, it was worth it. I gave up a six figure corporate income though, luckily, we still had my husband’s income and health benefits. We also had lots of savings that we were able to tap into during the two and a half years I homeschooled.

    We spent $10,000 privately on a therapist using an Orton Gillingham dyslexia remediation program called Alphabetic Phonics, which helped greatly. The other major category of expense included activities we felt he should have such as music, sports, College for Kids in the summer, camp, and Boy Scouts. I homeschooled 4 hours a day using textbooks and workbooks from local teacher’s stores, e-bay, Amazon books and Half Price Books. We also relied heavily on city libraries for books and videos and used some of the vast array of material available on the internet.

    Our boy re-enrolled in the local public middle school last year and has had a very successful transition. He returned to school on track for reading and a year ahead in math and science. He passed the state’s standardized tests last spring and, this year, while active in football, baseball, band and Boy Scouts has been on the A/B Honor Roll. He’s doing great.

    While homeschooling, I started teaching Statistics, Critical Thinking and Operations Management part time at a local university and have continued with that. This represents a career change for me but I love it. I’m now working two part time teaching jobs which allows me to be home at 3 when our boy finishes school. This is important because, while he can still have a lot of success, his dyslexia is severe enough that we need to spend up to 3 or 3 1/2 hours a night on homework.

    No one can decide but you. I would, though, recommend that you work with the school first. Unless they’re as useless as Grapevine Elementary was, they may help you out. The middle school, for instance, has been incredibly helpful and has offered tutoring and other kinds of support and your school may help, also.

    If you decide to homeschool, make sure you have access to some serious money as counseling, remediation and other enriching activities (music, sports, dance, art, theater?) all cost. If your current savings cushion won’t manage a hit of several tens of thousands, see what you and your husband can work out between full and part time work between you.

    I’ve read that children with learning challenges represent the fastest growing segment of homeschoolers and I believe it from what I’ve seen here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It can be a wonderful experience for both you and your child – it certainly was for us – but it definitely takes planning, financial commitment, and dedication.

    I wish you and your son nothing but the best on your journey. If you have any questions or if I can help in any way, feel free to contact me by my e-mail at any time.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Hi Cathy,

    I had a similar revelation with our son with a book and we are paying out of pocket for the testing and possible therapy. I can’t sit still on this while the school gives therapy that isn’t working. Especially now since my son broke down and told me he hated school.

    Once I have medical expertise behind me, I will approach the school again and request different services. I already planted a lot of seeds with his teacher, but now I need a professional to back up my suggestions. If they are unwilling to make changes, I think we will be forced to homeschool for a while and then put him back into the school after he is caught up and has better tools to deal with school.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. It is so very much like ours and it is wonderful to hear from someone who made it through it.

  • Reply Rebekah |

    Hi Tricia,

    First off, I am not a mother and I have never homeschooled a child BUT, I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I’m a kid who was homeschooled.

    My mother was forced to home school me when I was unable to get into the first grade due to overcrowding. She intended to keep me at home only until the school had more availability but decided I was not only ‘getting by’, I was thriving.

    She kept me at home and eventually pulled 4 of my siblings out of school to home school them as well. She was chastised by her friends but she knew she had to stick by her decision even though she struggled financially. She made sure we were involved socially by enrolling us in an ISP (independent study program) and made sure we were active in the community.

    I graduated high school (homeschooled) with honors 10 years ago in a very real graduation ceremony through the ISP. I graduated from a Los Angeles university Magna Cum Laude in 2003. My two brothers are firefighters and my two sisters are well adjusted mothers who home school their children. We are certainly not socially inept and I get frustrated and annoyed with people who classify homeschoolers as such.

    And just so you know, my mother was only high school graduate. Obviously, that little fact didn’t prohibit me or my siblings from doing well scholastically.

    Your decision is a very personal one but I just wanted to let you know that homeschooled kids can grow up to be very normal, very bright people.

    I wish you and your son the best.

So, what do you think ?