If you read my last post, then you probably caught on to the fact that I'm not exactly thrilled to be homeschooling :)
But (isn't there always a but?!), in light of the alternatives available to us at this time, I'll take it any day. If you asked me, I'd probably tell you that I chose to homeschool, and, to a certain degree, I suppose I did. I definitely could choose to put my kids in the public school system. But I won't. So technically, I did have a choice.
And I've been here before....several times.
For me, the idea of homeschooling came about when Josh was in the first grade. Before then, it was only something that really large families with tons of nerdy kids that wore long skirts did. Sorry Duggars....I do love you ;D
I mean, didn't normal kids go to public school?
Around the time that Josh was diagnosed with ADHD, I started noticing problems at school. Josh was showing signs of distress (stomach aches, moodiness, not wanting to go to school). His teacher was aware of his new diagnosis, and he had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) on file with the school. We were in constant contact with the teacher in an effort to make life easier and less stressful for Josh. I remember telling people over and over again....
I just want him to be happy and well-adjusted.
Didn't he deserve that?
Despite the fact that I thought we were on the same page with the staff at school, Josh continued to suffer. At some point, it became clear that the issue was in the classroom, and while I can't recall the exact details, I do know that Josh & I had a conversation about his teacher and the way she was treating him. Stories of her yelling at him and punishing him for not being on task began to surface, and I started to question whether this was the right environment for him.
It was shortly before Christmas that I came across the idea of homeschool. I don't remember exactly what prompted it, but there it was. And once I opened myself up to it, there was no turning back, no matter how much I fought it :) I even like to tell the story of how, while I was struggling with the decision to homeschool, I was prompted by the sandwich maker at Quiznos one day to go for it. In fact, as he was telling me how he had been homeschooled (and I have NO clue how that conversation even got started....divine intervention maybe?!) and I began to deny my ability to do it, he spoke to me (and to this day I swear it was the words of the Lord pouring from his mouth) these simple words
you can do it
Well, that was that. I was convinced this was God's will.
But questions still haunted me as I realized I would be the sole provider of my child's education, and it wasn't something I was prepared to deal with. Noah was just 2 at the time, and I couldn't figure out how on earth I was going to entertain a toddler while teaching a first-grader. In order to reduce my stress, I made the decision to finish a first grade curriculum with Josh and then, if he was ready, send him back to public school the following year. My plan was to have him repeat 1st grade the next year, as he has a June birthday and was very young.
Whew....that made it much easier! All I had to do was keep him busy for a few months! Who cared if he actually learned anything!
With the hard part out of the way, I was happy to busy myself fixing up a fun schoolroom and finding fun craft projects for us to do ;)
By the next fall, there was no question that Josh would go back to public school. While he & I had enjoyed some great one-on-one bonding time, I still felt highly unprepared to handle the responsibility of his education. Public school was all I had ever known. Besides, Josh was begging to go back at that point. He was bored and hated having to run errands with me when we were done with school each day!
And that was the end of homeschool......
or so I thought ;)
Fast forward a few years. Emily (a sophomore in school) had just had major surgery on her foot and, with yet another surgery on the horizon, we knew she wasn't going to be able to make it through the halls of the high school on crutches for several months at a time. We made the decision to homeschool, but this time, I was smart.....I left the teaching up to someone else....we went with a free online high school program (IQ Academy)!
Uh, yeah......not so much.
Not the best program, and I wouldn't recommend it. But we managed to make it through the year, and Emily was overjoyed to return to public brick and mortar for her junior year!
And I had my life back.....again ;) No pressure to keep up with assignments, no worries about online class attendance. Phew!
or so I thought
That very summer, just as we were beginning to prepare for the start of the upcoming school year, Noah came to me and told me he didn't want to go to school. If you don't already know, Noah has a severe speech impediment and has been in intensive therapy since the age of 3. It wasn't until the age of 4 that I could begin to understand what he was saying to me, and to this day I find myself asking him to repeat things that I just can't make out....it's an ongoing struggle. Anyway, his speech, or lack thereof, has led to him being bullied at school, on an ongoing basis. And I wasn't going to put up with that.
That happened to be the same fall that we had already decided to homeschool Josh....online through the K12 program this time. We were concerned about his ability to function in a middle school setting with so many different teachers while struggling with his ADHD.
Again I was faced with a decision....a choice.
Of course I would homeschool Noah. After all, he needed me. I set out once more to fix up a suitable classroom, pushing away the thoughts of how. How would I do this with a brand new baby (#8), a toddler, a preschooler and a 6th grader?
I'll just make it work.
I can DO this. I CAN do this.
No, no I couldn't.....
I chose a traditional homeschool curriculum for Noah, and I tried to incorporate some fun preschool things for Matthew & Jacob at the same time. It was a horrible, rotten mess!!!
I was stretched between a nursing infant, two ornery little boys who found trouble at every turn, and keeping up with what Josh was doing on his computer. All the while I was supposed to be "teaching" Noah!
No words to describe it, so I'll just let your imaginations run wild.
Anyway, we somehow managed to survive about 6 weeks of that before Noah was in tears and begging for something different. My mom happened to be visiting at the time, and through some brainstorming, we came up with the idea of a private christian school. There happened to be one just down the road from our house, and after some fact-checking, we realized it was very affordable! That was our answer. Noah was happy to be in a safe environment where bullying was much less likely to be an issue in a smaller classroom environment with a teacher that had more control. They even had a preschool program for Matthew!!
win and win
The year went well, so well in fact that we happily signed the boys up for the same school the following year (fall 2011), this time adding Josh to the program. The girls were all in public school, the boys in private, and I was happy :)
Until....well, you know. Yeah, the call that changed our lives.
Moving to Georgia in the middle of the year was not our plan. As soon as I discovered this would be our new home, I began to check into the private school tuition costs and quickly learned that it was going to cost as much for just ONE of our kids to attend a private school here as it did for all three of them in Kansas....and THEN some!
Private school was out of the question. And so was public. If I wasn't willing to put my kids in top-rated public schools in Kansas, there was NO WAY I was going to put them in public school in Georgia. Nope. No way.
And even poor Sophie, who has been in public school all her life, had to switch over to online school after attending just two days of public high school here.
It. Was. Bad.
So, I was homeschooling once more. But this time it was ALL of my children. Even Emily was now doing online school to finish up her senior year.
A challenge, but I felt in my heart it was again God's plan for our lives, so I embraced it fully. If we were going to homeschool, then dang it, we were going to homeschool!!!!
I threw myself into making a wonderful environment for us to spend our days. We were blessed with an extra room upstairs, perfect for spending our school hours. I loved decorating the space and filling it with fun artwork. We even added a chalkboard wall and a full wall of cork to display our treasures.
We even happened to have 2 matching desks in that fit perfectly in the space....
And I used the rocker from Caleb's former nursery as a special spot for reading on mom's lap :)
It was good.
Except that I still didn't REALLY want to do it. Not really. But sometimes we don't get to decide.....
I don't know what the future holds for me or for my children, but this is where we are now. I will continue to listen to my heart as I try to follow what I believe God is calling me to do (like it or not). I guess, when it comes to homeschooling my children, it kind of boils down to a love/hate relationship. While I love having them at home and enjoy getting to be a big part of their day, I don't love knowing that their entire education rests on my shoulders. Even if it's online school, I still bare so much of the responsibility...and that scares me.
I constantly find myself asking am I good enough? Do I have enough to give? Can I be everything that they need?
I know what my kids have gained from outside school opportunities, be it public or private, and I have to wonder how I can compete. I'm not sure that I will ever truly resolve this struggle, and I think it's because of the fact that I have had to homeschool so often under duress. It really hasn't been a choice I would have made otherwise, and that's the truth.
So, that's our story. We've made some slight changes to our curriculum this year. Last year, we did Alpha Omega Academy Online for the boys, and George Washington University Online High School for Sophie. While we loved Sophie's program, the boys left something to be desired for us, and I decided to go back to K12 (Georgia Cyber Academy) for them this year. Besides that, AOA was not free, and K12 is. Unfortunately, Sophie's program is a private academy, and there is cost involved, but we are able to justify it since she only has 2 years left and I don't want to cause her anymore turmoil at this point than she has already endured. Jacob will attend preschool this year at a church just down the street. He is very social, and I think it will be good for him to have some outside experiences.
Let me know if you have any questions!! I enjoy all the email I get on this subject ;)