When Children Might be Better Left Behind

I had a very good friend who decided to start homeschooling in the middle of her chemotherapy treatment. She had been very active in the PTA and was actually president for the second time when her son began having problems in the fourth grade. She had been considering the idea of homeschooling for a while but the final straw came just before Thanksgiving. Her son was to be put in in-school suspension for what she felt were inappropriate reasons. So he stayed home that Friday while she went to school to withdraw him. As she was going through the process, the administration offered to put him in another class. This was something she had been requesting since the beginning of the year when she realized there was a personality conflict between her son and teacher which was aggravating other issues. Too little, too late, she declined.

She was still very active with the school since her daughter still attended but the chemo was taking a toll. At one point, the principal asked her if her decision to homeschool might not be affected by the chemo, implying that somehow it caused her to make a poor decision with regard to her son. Her response was, “of course it was, I don’t have time to put up with this s**t!” That’s what she said she told him and knowing her, I believe she said it. She had pulled her daughter out by spring break because her teacher said that without extra work, she wouldn’t pass the TAKS.

I realize that for many families, school offers some normalcy for children when a parent is suffering a serious illness. However, this wasn’t the case here. The children were trying to protect their mother from the problems that were occurring at school. What’s even sadder is that the school knew about her situation and certainly didn’t try to work with her until it was too late.

Did the children’s “education progress” suffer from being homeschooled by a sick parent? I really don’t know but from all indications, it would have been anyway at school. What they did gain was extra precious time to spend with their mother without the stresses of dealing with school. I’m confident that when they are adults and looking back they will be glad that they spent as much time as possible with her in the year and a half before her death rather than worrying about passing the TAKS.


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