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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is Bullying the Reason You Homeschool?



Why do you homeschool?  Does it have anything to do with a bully?

Many homeschoolers choose to keep their children at home because of an experience with a bully:  Either the parent was bullied as a kid, or their child has experienced bullying.

When I was asked to review a book recently, it dawned on me that I could address the issue of bullying even more extensively than the book had done.  I wrote about it here:

Back To School Back To Bullies!

No, it's not my entire reason for homeschooling, but I'm sure bullying plays a part in my decision.

Getting personal, I will admit that part of the reason I decided to homeschool probably has something to do with boarding a bus.  I remember learning to survive on a bus.  By the time I was a Junior in High School, I boarded a bus with my best friend.  However, when I returned home from school, she was not on the bus because she had a job and was part of a high school work program.  So, I was on my own.  Thankfully, I found a bus buddy who I still cherish to this day.

Backing up a few years, my dad was starting out in his career and getting promoted frequently.  By the time I was in 6th grade, I was entering my 6th public school.  I actually loved this new school every year pattern.  I was always the new kid on the block and always welcomed with joy.  I also loved school.  I had no trouble making friends.  ...Until we moved to St. Louis.

The year we moved to this new city, I was in 5th grade.  I would not enter the school year halfway through, being the new kid and introduced like some kind of treasure to the class, but rather I would start the first day of school in the fall along with everyone else.  I blended in like I was part of the crowd.  But, inside of me, I didn't blend in at all.

It was in 5th grade that I would meet my best friend for life, which was a joy.  It was also, however, in 5th grade that I would experience bullying from an unexpected source - A teacher.

I had a teacher who, for some reason we have never figured out, had it in for me.  

  • She insisted that I was not wearing my glasses - I didn't wear any.
  • She pulled me physically by the shirt to yank me out of the doorway to the classroom because I had run into the class when the bell rang, and she had been standing at the doorway talking with another teacher.  Apparently, I had run in between their conversation.  To this day, I still cower when there is no way avoiding walking in between two people in a doorway...  Even though, they are blocking the way.
  • She called me out at a school camp, shaking me and screaming at me because I had wandered away from the class, who were feeding chickens.  I was a bit frightened by the chickens.
On top of this, I entered this school not knowing anything about inclusive classrooms.  The public school was trying to integrate special school district children into the classroom.  This sounds like a wonderful concept.  However, no one explained to me that this boy, who was the size of a large man, had thick glasses, talked with a deep groaning voice and shuffled his feet when he walked was a special school student who was being integrated into the mainstream classroom to learn alongside mainstream students.  

In no way do I mean this in anything other than the truth - But, this boy scared me.  I had never seen anyone with a special need in my own classroom before.  Please - Integration is a grand idea!  I do not know what his special need was, but if someone had explained to me that whatever he was suffering from was not something I could catch, like a cold, it would have been helpful.  He scared me, and the teacher set his desk right next to mine - Touching my desk, completely lined up side-by side.

This boy would take his pencil and tap - tap - tap it on top of my head the entire time the teacher spoke.  The teacher did nothing.  And, me?  I was too scared, and didn't want to hurt this boy's feelings, to ask him to stop.

At the end of my 5th grade school year, toward the last day of school when I was feeling relieved that I would not be seeing this teacher ever again, this same teacher stood up and scared the living daylights out of us all.  She began to tell us how in Middle School, 6th grade, we would be forced to take showers during gym class with everyone watching.  I don't remember anything else she said because I was shaking with fear all summer worrying about what 6th grade would be like...  It was nothing like she had terrified me into believing.

I say all that to say this, bullying comes in many forms.  Sometimes it comes from a fellow classmate, and sometimes it comes from a person in a position of authority - a teacher, a parent, a pastor - who should know better.  Even though I had never heard of homeschooling at that time, and of course I have a whole slew of additional reasons as to why I educate my children at home, but I think 5th grade sealed the deal for me for homeschooling in terms of socialization and bullying.

I know of no better way to arm my children to stand up to a bully but to lay for them a solid foundation of love, instilling confidence and spiritual soundness.  My philosophy has always been:

I wouldn't throw a baby, who doesn't even know how to swim, into an ocean filled with sharks.  Even if it isn't as drastically abusive, the same is true with throwing my babies into an environment like I experienced in the 5th grade.
So, how about you?  Does bullying play any part in your homeschooling decision?

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Socialization...It's Why I Homeschool

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