In a nutshell, Finn has failed to learn enough (or the school have failed to teach him enough if you want to put it that way) in the two years that they've had him. The remedy they propose is more of the same (see 'repeating a school year'), but it seemed to me it may have been time to try something else, so I took him out of school for about a week and a half and educated him at home.
To be clear, I respect his teacher. She has nineteen other kids to look after, but she has still worked hard with Finn, though for some reason, he seems to work better at home. When I saw her during the home education period to pick up books, he gave her an emotional hug. She tickled him. They clearly like each other.
So how did home schooling go?
I learned a great deal. Mostly I learned that I don't want to be a teacher, but I also learned how hard it is to cope with abstract concepts when you're five years old.
Finn learned even more. His reading went up a grade (which would happen at some time anyway, so maybe a coincidence), and his writing level also shot up to somewhere pretty close to 'acceptable' from illiterate. We went from scrawls representing a random selection of letters from some words in a sentence, to full on sentences. We went from 'I can't do maths' to 'this is easy'.
But long is the way, and hard, that leads from darkness to the light. All the way through I was The Mean One, making him do things which made him cry 'It's too difficult' for hours putting pencil to paper. His mother told me I'm being hard on him. I was very hard on him. But sure enough, he did it: he wrote sentences. And then he wrote them again, because they weren't good enough. Finally, we have written English.
The different between myself and the school is largely one of approach. As is fashionable, the teacher always says "Very good Finn; you've really tried.", and so he has been satisfied with a very low amount of effort. Whereas, The Mean One says "Finn, this is not good enough. Do it again." and again and again...
Surprsingly, the experience has brought man and boy a little closer too. I had expected him to hate me for it, but I think he understands that the reason I give him harder work than the school does is that I believe in him. He is capable of a lot more than he thinks he is, and a lot more than the school thinks he is.
For bettor worse, temporarily or permanently, he went back to school on Thursday, because he was itching to see his friends. One in particular, a pretty little girl was over the moon to see him back, and to watch their little faces beaming as they ran around together was a beautiful sight.
Talking to the teacher afterwards, she said his progress during his time off was dramatic. Result! And we need more of the same. You mean after this marathon slog, we're still not there? Not quite.
Posted on 2011-06-18 17:10:49