Here's another testimonial from a Red Oak parent about the difference our little school has made in her life, and most importantly, the life of her son. Thank you Kacy Wiant and others taking time to put thoughts down and share them. - ROCS
From the time he came earth side, my son has been my greatest teacher. Beginning as an infant suffering with 50 food and environmental allergies, moving into toddlerhood with speech delays, and later onto early elementary with mounting frustration in the traditional public school setting, he has needed his mom to think outside the box, to brainstorm, and most importantly, to advocate for him. This has been challenging, heart-stretching work.
I have approached each of these pivotal times, as the perfectionist I am. I turned over every stone, spent hours upon hours online performing detective-style research and finally, when in spite of all that, I just could not figure it all out myself and I felt like time was running out, I secretly whispered a plea into the 4:00 am sky, “I need some help.” And every time, help would come. We found a wonderful naturopath to clear his allergies. The Help Me Grow program to provided speech therapy. And then, at the beginning of 2nd grade when my bright and creative child was ready to give up on school and I found myself laying wide awake in bed with tears streaming down my face, we found Red Oak Community School, or maybe ROCS found us.
When asked to sit at a desk or in front of a computer, tactile learners such as my son can start to look like kids who cannot focus, who misbehave, and who have trouble settling their bodies down. Traditional public schools often limit children's space or ability to move, a detriment to kinesthetic learners.
I knew my son was capable, he just needed space to move while he was doing academic work. At home we would bounce balls while doing math facts; he would roll around on the couch while studying sight words; and while reading out loud to him, he would draw the story in his art pad. He did not like sitting down to do homework sheets, as he would much rather be outside climbing trees. In first grade, he learned to play guitar and taught himself chords. By second grade we knew he had a musical gift when he could listen to music and play it on his guitar the first time. When I reached out to his teacher to see if he could bring his guitar in and play a song for the class, she said, “I am sorry. We don’t do show and tell at school.”
There were multiple conferences with multiple teachers ringing alarm bells that he was very smart, but they were worried he could not channel his intelligence into success in the classroom and that he would not pass the 3rd grade English Language Arts (ELA) test due to his inability to sit for long periods of time. There was mention of medication. They attempted some tactile tools like fidgets, bands on the chairs, letting him take a walk around the library in the morning, and sitting at the back of the rug in case he needed to wiggle. Still he came home in tears day after day when he had to move his clip down on the discipline chart and his new mantra became, “I’m just a bad kid.”
As a mom, there came a point when I could no longer listen to my son say he was a bad kid anymore! I was ready to quit my job and homeschool him even though in my heart I knew that was not a feasible option for our family. I reached out to my Facebook community and that’s when I learned about ROCS, a “homeschool school.” My interest was piqued. I spent hours on the website learning about this fascinating school where kids can play in the woods, use sensory tools for all the lessons, where they do not assign homework nor tests, and where they listen and learn from children’s need to move while learning (read more about this in Movement Matters).
I knew this was the place for my son. I wrote a check to Red Oak Community School with the application form and carried it in my purse. When my husband and I toured the school and Cheryl, the school manager, said, “Think about it and let me know,” I handed her the check and said “I already know.” He was added to the wait list for 5-Day students and 1 month later, we got a call: “We have an opening for your son. We cannot wait to have him.” Even though he started a few months after the first school year began, he was welcomed with open arms.
Today he is thriving! He loves school, his creative spirit has an outlet, he is successful, and he can move! He has brought his guitar in and played many times, including during the filming of the school song. His eyes light up on Monday when he eagerly checks the weather and gets his gear ready for the day. He has never uttered “I am a bad kid” again.