If you receive my newsletter, you already know that the past couple of weeks were tough. I mentioned in the last newsletter that I was calling the previous week my Homeschool Mom Professional Development Week to put a positive spin on it. (If you aren’t getting my weekly newsletter, you’re missing out! You can subscribe here.) But the truth of the matter is that I’ve been going through a period of when homeschooling is hard.
Calling the Public School
Two weeks ago I called the public elementary school and left a message for the principal to determine whether or not it would be a good fit for Caroline.
I knew deep down inside even when I called that it would not be possible, but I had to make the call. I had to talk to someone, explain our situation with a differently-wired learner who is 2e (both gifted and has a learning challenge), and hear for myself that it would never work.
The principal was very kind. He was very supportive. He listened to me, asked intelligent questions, and made a few suggestions. He contacted the gifted and talented coordinators to see about having Caroline tested. They would not because she’s not enrolled. And, of course, we would never consider enrolling her without knowing she would receive the support she would need to thrive.
He called me back after we both received the “no” answer email from the gifted and talented coordinator. He said he didn’t want that to be our last contact and that he didn’t necessarily agree with the procedures established in the district. Honestly, the principal could not have been any kinder or more helpful. (But that is what I would have expected from the school district we live in.)
The entire experience reinforced to me that there is no way a traditional classroom setting will work for us.
But I already knew that.
Facing the Facts – Again
I’m a certified, experienced teacher. I’ve been in the classroom and that was before things went totally nuts with excessive testing and grade expectations that are totally out of alignment with well-established facts about child development.
It was my own experience as a teacher that made it clear to me that a traditional classroom setting would not work for my child in kindergarten. Or first grade. Or second grade.
But I’ve wavered a bit in third grade because because I’m tired.
Homeschooling is hard for everyone, but it’s a double dose when you have a differently-wired child.
I’ve wavered because homeschooling a differently-wired child means constantly re-evaluating what you are doing.
Wondering if you are failing your child.
Feeling like you aren’t doing enough for your child.
Wondering how you are going to meet her needs for another nine years.
Going it alone because it all falls on you – testing, outside professional help such as an occupational therapist, etc.
Feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere as a family.
Making accommodations for your child and family that most people don’t understand the need for.
Wondering if I can really give her what she needs within the constraints I have to work with whether they are my own health, finances, etc.
I shared in a private bloggers forum that I felt trapped. And I think that was the hardest part. I felt like I had no choices. It’s one thing to choose to homeschool because you feel it is the best option for your family and child, knowing you can make a change in the future if you need to do so. It’s another thing when you realize that it is the ONLY option for your child. That has become increasingly clear to me over the past year or two.
Thankfully some really great moms with children similar to Caroline responded with encouraging words, making it clear that we are all struggling with the same kinds of challenges. They shared their own relief with homeschooling because it was so much better for them and their child compared to when their child was in a traditional classroom. It was so much easier than trying to work within a system that is not designed for outside-of-the-box children. We’ve always homeschooled so I’ve never experienced the “relief” of finding something better.
Something about making the call to the school and talking it out with other moms ended up freeing me. It reminded me again that God gave us this child. We prayed specifically for a little girl for nine years. And God gave her the parents she needed. She has a daddy who is fun and playful, something really important for an imaginative only child. He gave her a mother who is a relentless researcher who will find the answers for her child.
I shudder to think what her life would be like if she had parents who were unable or unwilling to invest the time in her that she needs.
Sharing the Struggles
Sometimes I really struggle with what to write here. It’s a challenge to know how much to say publicly about our homeschooling life. I asked Caroline the other day if I could write about her OT experience because I thought it would help other children and their parents. She said it was fine as long as she was able to read it first. Even at eight and a half she’s already aware of what goes on here and how it reflects on her. I’ve always protected her privacy online from the time she was born (probably to a fault). Continuing to do so makes it challenging to write authentically at times.
I also struggle with how honest to be because we make a lot of choices that I know some people will be quick to judge and condemn us for. Frankly, I’m not interested in opening myself and my family up to criticism from internet trolls and people who just generally enjoy dictating the correct way to do homeschooling (and life in general) to others. And yet I know how important it is to talk about these issues because we’re not the only ones dealing with them. Even though those of us with differently-wired children are a minority in the homeschooling world, the challenges we face are real. We need to support each other.
Turning a Corner
So we’ve definitely turned a corner in our homeschooling. We re-adjusted our homeschooling (again!). David, Caroline and I have talked through some of the issues we’ve been facing and I think it has made a difference. Even though I still have no idea how we are going to get through the next nine years, I think I know how we are going to get through the next four months and that is good enough for now. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow and so I’ll choose to enjoy today and trust that tomorrow will work itself out. He’s brought us this far and He certainly won’t stop carrying us now.