Saturday, November 5, 2011

School Was a Problem

Just another quick word on the wonders of home study.

I have never seen T so relaxed.

He is EXTREMELY hyper-vigilant, as a result of spending years in a violent home. He checks all the doors and windows every night and every morning. He notices the slightest movement. He frets when we go on vacation until he gets the lay of the land.

A classroom is a nightmare for a kid like that. And because he struggles to behave himself when he's anxious, he was often seated in the front of the class where the teacher could keep an eye on him. That meant all the other kids were sitting BEHIND him: the worst possible arrangement for a hyper-vigilant, anxious child.

Now that he studies at home, his teacher reports he's getting all Bs in school (and he's not working very hard at that). He sleeps late, naps in the afternoon, and works when he feels like it. I'm sure that sounds indulgent to other parents, but it's working for us. He has gained weight (a good thing, since he has been borderline anorexic in the past), smiles regularly, and recently got himself on a gym routine. He has time to go to therapy now, and he's not exhausted from a day at school when he gets there. He's on track to finish high school early. Of his own initiative, he got a job counselor and began spending part of each day looking for jobs. He's taking a college history class once a week, and managing to get by there too.

We don't sit at work waiting for yet another phone call from a teacher or administrator. We don't have to worry about the frightening friends he might be making at school - like a lot of traumatized kids, he gravitates to the bottom of the social ladder at school, because that's where he tends to feel safe. We are able to discipline him in the way that we know works well - with a gentle system of incentives and praise for desirable behavior, and a quick, logical consequence for misbehavior. I don't have to think so hard about parenting strategies, because there are fewer crises to manage.

Looking back, school was a problem. A minefield of inconsistent discipline, social pressure, physical and psychological strain. Teachers and administrators often misunderstood him, and over-punished him. He couldn't find the peace he needed to evolve. Fewer, more trustworthy adults and no crowded, noisy environments have done wonders for his stability. He does get lonely sometimes. But it's a temporary sort of loneliness, and he's learning to solve it with deliberate choices rather than the manic, panicked social behavior we saw last year. It's a good time.


SRR said...

Such a wonderful post!

GB's Mom said...

My son (now 29) did his senior year the same way. It is a wonderful memory.

marythemom said...

I'm so glad T is doing well! I wish this was an option for us (although it would be an issue for my super social Kitty) as both my kids are a lot like T - hypervigilant, attracted to the other kids with issues...).

Hugs and prayers,

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