My son has completed kindergarten and first grade in public school. Our local school is very well respected in the community, and is a national "Blue Ribbon School." We're in district for it, but it also functions as a magnet school for "individually prescribed education" (which is a joke, more on that later). He also attended half day preschool at his elementary school, which he qualified for because of speech delays. I loved everything about his preschool experience there and he did, too, but, ever since kindergarten started, I've been getting more and more fed up with school.
Early in ds's kindergarten year I realized that, despite playing letter games at home and directly learning letters in preschool, he did not learn the alphabet. Thanks to lots of work at home, he did eventually learn the alphabet and letter sounds, but he wasn't catching onto reading the way it was taught at his school (mostly whole language, with some minimal phonics mixed in). I suspected dyslexia early on because my brother is dyslexic and my husband is dyslexic and my son has a lot in common with both of them in terms of the way he thinks. His teacher, however, was totally skeptical of the idea and kept telling me that she was sure DS would make a big jump in skills after Christmas as many kids do. When he didn't make the jump after Christmas she was sure he'd make it by spring break. When that didn't happen, she started talking to us about retention. We had no interest in retaining him in kindergarten. You would think, since he has an IEP for speech, that getting another evaluation for dyslexia might be easy, but no. Our district doesn't consider dyslexia a special need, and children can't get an IEP for reading in any case until third grade (because, of course, waiting until reading is essential to help struggling kids is the best choice apparently). He did go see the reading specialist for most of kindergarten, but the program she used basically just taught him to be a better guesser. They learned strategies like "picture reading." I'm sure that helps some kids, but not mine.
Long story ever so slightly shorter, we had him independently evaluated for dyslexia at the end of kindergarten, and were not surprised to learn that we were right. He began tutoring at the place that did the evaluation over the summer between kindergarten and first grade. They use the Barton Reading and Spelling program, which is wonderful. His tutor, who is a licensed speech therapist, has also mixed in some speech theo rapy, which has been extremely helpful. Since the spring all the tutors have also been working on exercises to improve students' memory (often a problem for dyslexics) and ability to track words across the page.
All of this has been great and helped my son a lot, but his reading (and his math, too) is still behind where the school expects him to be. First grade was enjoyable for him in some ways, but homework was always a huge battle because, even though homework at his school is "individualized", in that students are divided into groups by ability and different groups get different work, the work started being above his level by Thanksgiving. Add to this the fact that he had two hours of tutoring a week after school and wanted to participate in other activities (ballet class and Cub Scouts), and you had a frustrated and exhausted little boy.
Despite the fact that he's officially "below level" in reading and math, there was no talk of retaining ds in first grade. So he's registered to go back to school for second grade in just under three weeks (the start date here is August 15th), but he doesn't want to go and I don't want to send him.
His best friends (whose parents are good friends of ours) has always been homeschooled. Ds started asking to be homeschooled partway through kindergarten. I told him there was no way I could do it and he had to figure out how to adjust to school. I gave it brief thought at the end of kindergarten when his teacher was talking about retention, but, with the dyslexia diagnosis, we were able to talk reason into her regarding him continuing to first grade. However, in March of this year ds started complaining about school almost every day and asking to be homeschooled. Every Sunday night he cried about going back to school on Monday. I started loooking seriously into homeschooling, found a curriculum I thought would be a good fit, and started to realize it might be something I could do.
My husband, however, is opposed to homeschooling in principle. He thinks every child should attend public school, and has little respect for families who choose private school (he has a bit more respect for homeschool, but not much). I too see much value in public education in principle. I really do like that our son is exposed to kids whose values are different than ours, whose skin is a different color and, in some cases, who speak a different language at home. But, when your son cries every Sunday night about school, it's very tempting to throw your principles out the window and try something new, even if only for a season. In addition, my son's reading tutor has noted that both his enthusiasm for the work and his ability to concentrate and do it well have improved this summer, when he's been going in the morning. At his last afternoon session, he knew three of his sight words. At the first morning session just two days later (with no studying in between), he knew 15.
I told my son I was looking into homeschooling, but that it was not at all certain we would do it. I honestly thought that, if I carefully researched the options and considered what I thought would be best for our son, my husband would come around. However, he won't come around. Despite agreeing that some of the curriculum I've shown him would be a great fit for ds, despite agreeing that the "individually prescribed education" in our son's school is a joke, despite thinking that public schools give way too many standardized tests, he still thinks ds (and every chidl) should go to public school. Come August 15th, he wins by default because not sending ds to school without having made arrangements to homeschool would be against the law. It breaks my heart, but I've been trying to bring ds around to the idea in recent weeks. He will hear nothing of it. He says he really wants to homeschool.
I really don't know why I posted this, really I just needed to get it all out in a forum where I'm not bashing my husband because non one knows him (or me for that matter). If you are able to remind me why public school really is valuable and it's worth pushing through this rough time, feel free to do so. If you think you know of some magic way to make a stubborn husband agree to your point of view, feel free to comment, but I'd be surprised to learn of an avenue I haven't tried (at this point, I'm down to begging). If you think I'm an idiot for letting my husband make this decision, please refrain from commenting. You're not me and you don't understand the dynamics of my family. For the record, we're evangelical Christians, but we're egalitarian when it comes to women's issues, and we make most big decisions together. On this particular decision, though, the public school proponent wins just because it's the default position.