Ok, who else has heard that type of response from random people? I admit I’ve heard far more hurtful things in the years since we started this journey. I know calling it a journey totally makes me sound like a Bachelor contestant but whatevs, homeschooling your kids is a journey and one that I know leads to an amazing destination. I wanted to start my blog with a little intro into how we found ourselves on this path in hopes that if you are facing similar challenges you’ll look to me for some guidance and solidarity.
My oldest, Skyler, started out a 5-year-old in kindergarten classroom just like most kids. We lived in New York then where the schools were top in the country and I had never even heard of anyone homeschooling. I joined in as a class mom, stayed as active as I could having newborn twins and followed the teacher’s strict homework policy. Man do I wish I could go back in time and change things, not much, but at least homework in kindergarten. Slowly I started to see my free-spirited little girl get more and more down on herself. She still liked school then though as she had lots of friends and there wasn’t as much pressure about grades. Fast forward a few years, to us living in Arizona. Skyler had now been in public school for Kinder-3rd grade. Where she was once a confident, silly, nature girl became replaced with an anxiety-ridden girl with such low confidence it made me cry. She would sob every night to please not make her go to school the next day. She always struggled with math, to this day it still stresses her although not nearly as much as when she was in school. At this time my middle son, Lucas, was in kindergarten and doing well from what the teachers said. The kinder here was half day so he still got to enjoy most of the day playing outside and being a 5 year old. I just couldn’t sit back and watch my daughter lose her childhood a little more each day, I had to do something.
Around that time I started to notice little signs from the Universe that pointed me towards homeschooling. Suddenly a few friends I followed on social media started to talk about John Holt and Unschooling. One of my clients when I worked as a massage therapist started to talk about how she unschooled her children. This peaked my interest and I devoured everything I could about the topic. As I watched my Skyler struggle more and more and not get the help she needed at school, even though I sat through multiple teacher meetings asking for extra help for her. I finally decided that year that we wouldn’t go back after Christmas time, we were done. I remember the liberating feeling of walking into that school office and withdrawing my kids. At the time Skyler was failing math. This was insane to me, how could a 3rd grader who was at school every day, who tried her hardest and had involved parents, fail. I realized it wasn’t Skyler who was failing it was the school that was failing her. As we took time to deschool, little by little I saw the old goofy Skyler come back. I was completely terrified but decided to just ride the wave of faith and let instinct take over. It didn’t help that my entire family back in New York was mortified by my choice to withdraw them and homeschool. They acted as if I were a horrific child abuser and I was destroying my kid’s lives. This was devastating, but I had the support of my husband and that was all I needed. We were their parents and no one had the right to tell us what was best for them. It killed me a little inside though, the thought that there were people that I loved judging me as a mother. It’s not an easy thing. It hurt me that I had to edit our life in every phone call or Facebook post for fear of snarky remarks. I call this time period our homeschool journey 1.0, it was just the beginning. In February, only two months after we started homeschooling, my father passed away at only 53 from brain cancer. I have an entire blog post on homeschooling through grief but this, of course, threw a huge monkey wrench in my plans. As his executor I was thrown into managing his estate, dealing with lawyers and realtors, insurance companies, and 401k’s. I like to refer to this time as my dark period, which I think I’m just started to come out of. I talk about this because with all of this going on I made the decision to enroll the kids in a small charter school close to our home that boasted a whole child approach to learning. They had two recesses, art three times a week and a very family-like feel. Well, this proved to be bs and after a year there we were back to homeschooling and haven’t looked back since.
I’m happy to say that most of my family and friends have finally come around to the idea of homeschooling and I’m no longer viewed as a life ruiner. I just had to stop letting their attitudes and comments bother me and let my resolve shine through. I do get smug satisfaction every time my awesome kids say something uber intelligent and I hear “wow they’re so smart, you’re doing an amazing job with them.” Yup, I know because homeschooling rocks.
I consider myself incredibly lucky that the Universe has allowed me to take this path with my children and for our family. My kids are happy, healthy and thriving, learning at their own pace and in ways that interest them. Even though I’m always on the hunt for new curricula or books this eclectic style works for us, at least for now while my kids are young. To my family homeschooling is like a river, strongly flowing ready to take on a new path should one open up. If our story sounds similar to what you’re going through or have gone through I’m here to chat. It can be super overwhelming and scary starting out and everyone needs a support system, I can be yours.
P.S. We are Supermoms!