When my husband and I were first married, we had discussed homeschooling our children. Initially, I was on board to do this, but as Kylie, my oldest started nearing kindergarten age, I felt my confidence dwindle. Then there was Bailey to consider. Bailey is my second child, she’s absolutely gorgeous and funny, but she’s a bit of an asshole. Every family has that one person who has to do the opposite of what is expected of them at all times. If she were to act agreeable, I would think something was wrong. Bailey and her stubbornness, destroyed what was left of my confidence in my ability to teach my children, so after much consideration, I put them in public school.
Both the older girls did really well at public school during kindergarten and first grade. I was amazed at how quickly they were learning. Bailey’s stubborn attitude was improving exponentially, as well. They had amazing teachers, whom I kept in regular contact with via e-mail. I was so happy and relieved. The one unfortunate, but predictable downside to public school, was that they (mostly Kylie) KEPT getting sick. Like non-stop. And when Kylie gets sick, she gets really sick. She’s a puker. Bailey, on the other hand, is usually fine in two days. I figured this would happen, because they had never been in daycare or preschool, so all these germs were new to them. I figured it would settle down after first grade, but it didn’t. They kept getting sick. Over and over and over again, to the point that we were in violation of Oregon truancy laws. Which is extremely frustrating and unfair. I called the attendance counselor and she took it upon herself to chastise me for letting them miss so much school. She told me that they have kids going through Chemo who miss less school, and then went on to say that my kids should be there even if they have a low-grade fever. In what sort of backwards world am I considered the bad parent for keeping my kids home while they’re sick? If more parents followed my lead, there wouldn’t be so much sickness being passed around in the first place. (side note, if I were the parent of an immunocompromised child with cancer, I would be seriously annoyed with people using my child as a talking point. Somehow, it has become okay for people to be the voice of all kids with cancer, which I can imagine is highly offensive and frustrating to the parents of actual immunocompromised children. Support them, sure. But stop talking on their behalf.)
The other issues I started to notice, was that the math curriculum was moving very fast. Kylie started off third grade a little behind in math, so we worked very hard to get her caught up (Common Core had just been implemented). In the end, she did get the hang of it, but we had to put in hours and hours of work at home to keep her up to speed. It was crazy. It was very apparent to me, that she was just not quite ready for the math they were teaching her. If only there was a way for me to push that curriculum ahead a year….
Being chastised by the attendance counselor for my awesome parenting was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I made the final decision to homeschool the kids the next year. I was SO freaked out, though. What if I fail them? What if I neglect important information and they end up missing something important that they will need later in their lives? How can I homeschool, when I’m so unorganized and I suck at following a schedule? What if my chronic pain condition flares up to the point that I can’t function? How do I even homeschool?!!!! I’m sure every parent has dealt with these same fears and more, but let me tell you; It’s totally, like, whatever. That should be my homeschooling creed. I’ll hang a sign that says “Homeschooling: It’s Totally, Like, Whatever!”
My point is; Homeschooling is whatever you want it to be. I found some awesome free online curriculum called Easy Peasy at allinonehomeschool.com that works amazingly well for us. Because of my chronic pain condition, I don’t sleep well, so a lot of times the kids will be all done with their online work by the time I get up. Then we spend the rest of the day unschooling. Unschooling is basically child-led learning. The funny thing is, I was so freaked out about homeschooling in the first place, and I didn’t even realize that I had been doing it all along. Anytime one of my kids expresses an interest in something, I drop what I’m doing and we look it up. So if they ask “Do hippos have tails?” we google pictures of hippos and then we watch a couple videos and then we find out where they live and what they eat, and it usually ends with us watching some sort of animal giving birth because my kids are just as weird as I am. And as for Kylie’s math? I found a way to push it out a year; you just wait a year to do it and focus on strengthening the math knowledge you already have. It’s that simple. The kids and I choose what they learn, when they learn it and how they learn it. And we answer to no one!
As far as Bailey’s stubborn attitude goes, I will be doing some follow up posts on that. I’ve had amazing success with her by changing my parenting style from one of criticizing bad behaviors and punishing them, while rewarding good behaviors, to a more peaceful parenting style, where you take the time to understand what is motivating the child to act in a way that is not acceptable, and then give them the tools to deal with their feelings in a way that is acceptable. It has worked wonders with all of my kids, but the difference in Bailey has been huge!
Thank you for reading, and good luck with whatever form of schooling you may choose!