A little more than a year ago my husband Micah and I sat down to discuss the possibility of homeschooling our daughter Chloe. She was going to be in the 3rd grade and we thought that since we were building a self sustaining life style as much as possible it would be the natural progression of things that I would enter into the adventures of homeschooling. This had been a topic of conversation for years, pretty much every summer we discussed and decided against homeschooling, until June of 2016 that is. We had more than enough reasons why we wanted to do it, and not so many reasons why we shouldn’t. This was before we learned of my dads skin cancer diagnosis. We had already begun the process when we found out my dad was sick so there was no turning back. Hindsight being 20/20, I would say that maybe life was throwing a little too much my way to start this but we moved ahead.
I began the online homeschooling certification classes, I was loving learning again and completely motivated. I was already 2 weeks into the 6 week class when my dad was admitted into the hospital. I don’t talk about this time in my life much because for me it was excruciating but its all tied into my homeschooling journey. Those last 4 weeks of my classes I completed the majority of my lessons at the hospital and in hospice care with my dad. Skin cancer is a painful and horrible way for your life to end, but during that time with my dad we talked about what I was doing. Most people thought I couldn’t handle teaching my stubborn and independent daughter but one night when I was on dad watching duty he asked me what I was doing. I explained the class I was required to take in order to teach Chloe. He looked at me and said, “If I know anything about you, no matter how hard this will be for you, you can handle this. You are strong enough for the both of you.” I won’t say I didn’t have my doubts during the course of the year but at that moment it was exactly what I needed to hear to know that I was making the right decision. I finished my course right before my dad passed away, but I was able to tell him I met my certification requirements and I got to see the pride in his eyes before he was gone.
The following month was hard, I was consumed with taking care of everyone around me and prepping everything for the upcoming school year and I forgot to take care of me. Due to my mistakes, we had a rough start to the year. I had ordered the entire 3rd grade Bookshark curriculum for Chloe. Thinking that if I could just follow the plan and schedule they made we would be fine. Boy was I wrong! First thing I didn’t see was that Chloe was transitioning from public school with a set structure and time for everything to being at home to do everything. The first two weeks we did good, walk in the park, mostly because we were both so excited to begin that it kept us going. But then things started getting really hard. Everything was a fight, she just wanted to do her own thing, wanted to avoid school work as much as possible. It took me a while to figure out how to proceed. We both wanted to pull our hair out, she probably hated me and I certainly didn’t want to be around her. It took 3 months of us being at each others throats for me to realize we had a problem. Not only was she fighting everything, but my motivation was gone. When my dad died, I slipped into a depression that caused me to come down with a bunch of stressed induced medical issues. I never left home for fear of being judged. My kids told me it was like I was a zombie. I began asking questions of other homeschool moms, what helped them when they began, what should I change, how can I make this work…and they came through. Not only did we need a break to decompress and figure each other out, but I needed to fix me before I could really be there for her. So thats just what we did.
Thanksgiving came and went and December was upon us. I decided that what we needed what some unschooling time. Learning at her pace and what she wanted to learn about. We read together to keep her reading on track and she happily did math, but everything else was all up to her. We watched documentaries, looked up online articles, and just spent time having fun. While she was getting use to the new way of things, I was seeking out new doctors who could give me answers and treatment and counseling to move past my loss. I didn’t know how much my physical condition and emotional upset had been impacting her and her learning. I felt a lot of guilt. So when January came along and it was time to get back down to business we sat down and talked. We talked about everything she was feeling and how we wanted to move forward. Doing it together and with an understanding that we were in this together was exactly what we needed.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say it was all sunshine and rainbows for the rest of the year because no it was not easy. But we worked out a plan and schedule. We finally worked together for the first time since the beginning of the school year. We still had days where she fought me on everything and I still had days when I doubted I was going to survive until June. Its not easy to be with your kids 24/7, never getting a break, always questioning yourself every single day. But what it comes down to was, what is best for my kids? We live in a world thats dangerous right now, everyone has an opinion about everything, not many people are that accepting of people who are different. We never felt like we fit all that well into the liberal run public school system, and while we love the Lord, we also don’t fit into the uber conservative private school ideals either. We are right in the middle, blazing our own way of life and doing something special and unique. So my belief is that yes, I was doing what was best because we are doing what we feel is right for us without casting judgement on others who do things differently.
Will I continue to homeschool next year? Yes but not in the same way. We discovered during the year that Chloe has ADD and what she needs more than having a teacher at home is having her mom at home. Our relationship suffered during the year, I was teacher all day and then mom at night, she never got to have just mom and fun mom because I was always working basically. So for next year we decided to try an online academy, the hope is that she will still get to do her learning at home, have the structure of school to help her be able to focus more, still have the support she needs from me for learning, but also be able to have just me, her mom. At the same time, I will begin to homeschool our son Wade for kindergarten in the more traditional homeschool setting because he is eager to learn and can sit for hours learning, Chloe always struggled with sitting for any amount of time. LOL!
We are blazing our own way, making mistakes and regretting none of it! In case you were wondering, no we did not fail the 3rd grade! We did our end of the year assessment and to my surprise Chloe scored in the 7th and 8th grade level for Language arts and reading, and 4th grade math. Not only did we survive with no casualties but we excelled and I’m incredibly proud of all we accomplished this last year, even with all the craziness and hardships!
Thanks for reading!