I’ve only mentioned this in bits and pieces over the last few months, but yesterday it was made official. Brenden is heading to high school at the local government school this year. Given our past as a fully homeschooling family, I thought this warranted a post of its own.
This was entirely Brenden’s choice to make. While we have never encouraged our children to want to go to school, we always said in the beginning that, particularly for high school, we would not stop them if they wanted to go. There are certainly a lot of social aspects to attending high school that are accepted in our culture as a common shared experience, and for some lucky students, these are all, or mostly all, positives. Brenden has had several good friends in the neighborhood for several years, and asked on his own if he could go to high school with them.
Yesterday, we met with his guidance counselor at the high school to complete his enrollment and set up his class schedule for the year. Brenden is going to be taking French, archery, strength training, and an intro to digital technology class that will cover online video editing, along with the usual core classes. Anybody else contemplating moving from home to government schooling will be pleased to hear that we got no grief whatsoever from the school. They did not demand a transcript or proof that Brenden was at a ninth grade level, nor did they complain about his being a little younger than the average ninth grader. We even discussed his being able to skip the “Intro to Computers” class, since he’s been on and around computers his whole life and lives with a couple of programmers for parents.
As I mentioned to the counselor, I am well aware that my issues with school are my own, not Brenden’s. My issues, and my reasons for homeschooling, stem from the social and academic complications of being a smart, younger-than-average student. I never had many friends. I felt like an outsider throughout my academic career. I was bullied on the bus and at school, even during classes. When I or my parents asked that I be given work that would challenge me, the schools fought us at every turn. In elementary school, I was told I couldn’t check books out of the library that were at my reading level. In junior high, I ended up helping my teachers grade papers, and was told I could not skip a grade because I was already too young for my grade. In high school, I was told I couldn’t possibly take two honors math classes at the same time…until I spent the first six weeks of non-honors geometry helping the teacher understand her own lesson plans. Then I was told that my summer school class didn’t count, and had to take trig over again. I was so happy when I got the chance to leave high school early. I have some happy memories around Georgetown, but almost none of them come from the school buildings. I used to beg my parents to let me homeschool, but back in the 1980’s homeschooling was still strange, something only weirdos did, and my mother always was concerned about what other people would think.
Naturally, I said from the beginning that I wanted to homeschool my own children. When I bent to family pressure and put them in government school when the triplets were in third grade, everything that had happened to me started happening to them, and then some. That experience not only reinforced my own resolve to homeschool, but stopped all the objections from family members.
I don’t expect to see any problems with Brenden in high school, though. Brenden is smart, but not too smart. If he is not challenged enough academically and it becomes a problem, I think we can get this school to move him ahead more easily than my own high school did, and pulling him out and going back to homeschooling is always an option. Brenden won’t need an IEP, since he has no visual impairment or autism spectrum disorders. Socially, I don’t think Brenden will have any trouble at all. He gets along well with pretty much everybody he meets, and other kids’ parents are always talking about what a good influence he is on their children. He has a few good, solid friends already going into this school, and I think he will make many more.
It’s going to be an interesting experience for the whole family this year. I am so excited, though, at the possibility that Brenden may get that classic high school experience…from the good side of things.
I sure hope he does too. As difficult as middle school was, my memories of MHS are mostly positive. He will be an asset to the school community, and those classes sound fun!
I wish him (and you) luck. I am all too familiar with the difficulties of being the smart kid in a run of the mill school… my oldest starts kindergarten at a public school soon, and we are both hopeful and terrified all at the same time, given his challenges.
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