Well. If there was ever a book that would describe my life, here it is. The very title supports what we have known for a long time (and confirmed by a teacher last year): that traditional public school just isn’t set up for this kind of kid. The kind of kid we have.
How could it? Traditional public education was designed to educate large numbers of children at the same time, at the same pace, by one teacher. I learned very quickly that teaching was like herding cats. Wet, angry, vengeful cats. Full of carbonated hormones…though that may be a characteristic of middle school only.
My kid was described as marching to the beat of his own drummer by his preschool teacher when he was three. So it really shouldn’t surprise me that school has been such a challenge. I guess I just expected that it would be different, since Tom and I both have teaching degrees and teaching experience. How wrong I was.
Making the Choice by Corin Barsily Goodwin and Mika Gustavson was recommended to me when it first came out several months ago. I made note of it, didn’t buy it; I already had two shelves full of books on gifted kids that I haven’t read, I really couldn’t afford another. We moved. School started. Things started going a little south. Things went south a little faster. I ordered the book. I stared at the book. I picked up the book, I put down the book. This went on for some time.
I was afraid of the book.
I read the book.
If it weren’t for the fact that this house barely holds the four of us plus the OMG she got skunked again dog, I’d be entirely convinced that Corin and Mika were living in my front closet. The description of a 2e kid in a traditional school and its punishing effect on home life is spot on. Frighteningly so. At one point I was crying while reading. In public. It hurts to read what you’re living, even though you know others have survived it. Big reason why I have two shelves full of books on gifted kids that I haven’t read. I’m also a stress ball of queasy anxiety these days, so it really doesn’t take much to set off the emotional fountain.
Then the book moves into the transition from traditional schooling to homeschooling and how it might benefit a square peg child. Like ours. And it gave me…it gave us…hope. Knowing that other parents have not only gone down this road, but have cleared the brambles and are providing guidance on the path less traveled, has brought us a small manner of peace. Knowing that A could advance at his own pace, accommodating his disabilities while challenging his mind…it’s what he needs.
Tom finished the book before I did, turned the last page, and said that this was probably our best bet at this time. I never, ever expected to hear that. We don’t have the educational options here in IL that we did in CO; it’s either tough it out in public school, sell a kidney for private school with no guarantee things would improve, or jump into the homeschool pool knowing that it’ll be a shock but that once acclimated you probably won’t want to get out. We can’t imagine continuing on the path we’re on right now; the stress we’re under is literally making us ill. We also know that some friends and family will be shocked and concerned and will try to talk us out of it. Well…though I’m pretty open here about Life on the Chaos Front, unless you’re living it you have no freaking idea what it’s like and how agonizing a decision like this is. Nothing has been decided at all, not by a long shot, but this book really clarified some of the confusion we had about making such a change.
If you have an atypical kid, or a unpleasant school fit for a gifted child, I recommend this book as a starting point to consider your options.
Full disclosure: While I bought this book of my own accord, Corin is a friend of mine and someone whose opinion I’ve sought on several occasions. She had no idea I was writing this review, only that I cried in public while reading the book. She is also the founder of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, of which I have recently joined. Beyond that, she’s just a damned fine person and someone I can’t wait to meet in real life.