To understand our decision to return to homeschooling, you need to have a little background information. We have tried nearly every aspect of education available. When my daughter was in kindergarten she went to the local public school and it was an absolute nightmare. The amount of homework for a five year old was insane to say the least. Not to mention the many threats of getting beat up she received from fellow classmates in KINDERGARTEN!!! We decided to put her into a private Christian school the following year. She absolutely loved it and we did too. She excelled, she made friends, she was involved in school sports and it was just such a nice change from the previous year. We loved it so much that we decided to keep her there the following year (and private school isn’t cheap).
Her second year was much different than her first. Her new teacher had just had a baby and you could tell it was taking its toll on her like it does with every new mom. The classroom was lacking, her anger and attitude became a little too much and Hailey started having a ton of trouble with school. Now please understand, I am in no way placing all blame on the teacher. My kid isn’t perfect and had her own issues that year as well. However, the teacher and Hailey were just not a good fit for one another. Hailey’s grades began to drastically fall and most night’s homework ended in tears. Not to mention we planned on taking a family trip so I signed her out of school an hour early one day and because it was not a doctor’s appointment and because I did not get it PRE-APPROVED (umm she’s my kid) she received a zero for the ENTIRE day. I was pregnant and emotional and just felt the Lord every single week pulling me farther and farther away from traditional school. I had a very close friend who was homeschooling and loved it! I told her on many occasions there was no way I could homeschool my kids. I didn’t have a background in education and to be honest I am a bit of a procrastinator. After tons of prayer with my husband, we decided to make the leap and began her 3rd grade year homeschooling.
Let me tell you at first glance…homeschooling is so overwhelming. There is so much freedom and you can chose how, when and where you homeschool your children. For this “very by the book” mama I had a hard time with that. I need/want a book to lay it all out for me with a schedule of what to follow and do each day. As I mentioned earlier, I was pregnant during this homeschooling year. Some days were hard, and other days were really, really hard. I started to question our decision, my abilities as a teacher, mother, etc. I need to mention also that Hailey LOVED everything about homeschooling. We were part of a Co-op every Tuesday. Hailey loved the freedom that homeschooling gives.
In September of my pregnancy, we began having complications. The baby was under a little bit of stress and I had way too much fluid, a condition called Polyhydramnios. The next two months of the pregnancy consisted of twice weekly doctor’s appointments where we did a stress test that took at least an hour to two hours each time. Our homeschooling weeks began to fall behind because there just wasn’t time with everything going on with the baby. Fast forward to our delivery time where I hemorrhaged which is a side effect of being Polyhydramnios. I had to have emergency surgery that I almost didn’t make it out of. Our brand new baby, who was not breathing upon arrival, had to spend two days in the ICU. Homeschool had to be put on hold for several months. I hated this, I felt like such a failure. We were not schooling at home most days and you can forget about going to Co-op. The next few months consisted of us being in and out of the doctor’s offices and the hospital because our baby, Micah, had an esophagus problem and was not thriving at all. At five months old he just barely weighed 10 pounds and was in the 3 percentile on the growth charts. He needed surgery and he needed it fast so he could eat and gain weight. He had feeding tubes, breathing machines, surgery and oxygen hooked up to him around the clock. During this time, homeschooling just wasn’t being done to the best of my abilities.
The end of the year came and we did our yearly evaluation which ended with me in tears in front of the poor evaluator because Hailey, despite all our issues that year, had tested at a 5th grade level for everything. I couldn’t believe it, I had managed to actually teach her something and wasn’t a complete failure. Despite the great news my husband and I decided it best for her and her brother Jackson, who was going into kindergarten, to go back to school. We tried to get them into the private school again but God put up a road block on that one for us so we explored other options. We prayed hard and decided if they were able to get accepted into the local charter school that was where we would send them because it was an AMAZING school! Then we got the letter that they were both accepted! Woo what a sigh of relieve for us! we had finally found a place for our children and a place we could all feel comfortable with. Or so we thought! 🙂
The year started out great and exciting. Both kids loved their teachers and their classes and classmates. However, Hailey was struggling. She had been in private school and homeschooled and had never been introduced to common core which is what they did at this school. It was a completely new concept for her that all the other 4th graders had a grasp on and she was falling behind. I began to question our decisions worrying that we had thrown her into the lion’s den. Then other factors started. Jackson was coming home asking all sorts of questions that he had NEVER been interested in before – things that a kindergartner shouldn’t even be exposed to. He was getting information from his friends, who again are FIVE years old, and we became very concerned about it all. Neither of the kids were praying at school like they had always done because other kids were making fun of them for it. At a very young age, we had to start teaching our kids the importance of defending their faith and standing strong in it. Then we received a note from the school warning us of talk of a “game” going around the school – the “passout game”. I asked Hailey if any of her friends had been discussing it and to my surprise she said YES! I was so upset! What kind of environment had I put my children in??? Kids were DYING from playing this game in other schools! They were losing their innocence in a matter of a few short months! I started praying and talking with my husband questioning our decision. He kept telling me to calm down and to give it some time so that’s what we did.
At least until the crazy clown thing started…their school was put on lockdown MULTIPLE times in a few short weeks because of reported scary clown sightings! Hailey would come home and tell me they had to have their classroom doors locked and she was kind of scared! NOPE! That, right there, was the minute I decided to go back to homeschooling. I called my husband, who by now completely agreed with me. We understand we can’t protect them from everything but we can at least try when they are with us. I called a few friends to cry and yell because I was terrified to do this. It was the middle of the year, we didn’t have any curriculum, we didn’t have a plan, and we didn’t have anything except our faith in God’s plan for us, our children and the amazing support from friends who also homeschooled. That very same week I pulled them out of school. I emailed their teachers and sent in our letter of intent to the county so we would be official homeschoolers again.
We have been homeschooling for the rest of the year. We found a curriculum that works for us, our kids are happy and enjoying learning again! I get to watch my children grow and learn every day and it is an amazing feeling and journey. Just this week I saw the fruits of my labor in Jackson who was READING! I taught him that! What an amazing feeling! Homeschooling is not for everyone; nor is traditional school for everyone. We have had quite the journey and feel that we are exactly where the Lord wants our family. Not every day is fun – some days are nearly impossible – but I wouldn’t trade having my children with me every day for anything in the world.
We recently joined the Florida Parent-Educators Association and its been a tremendous help to us! You can find local homeschool co-op groups in your area, resources, tools and tips to help all parents educating their children at home. I’m making plans to attend the 2017 FPEA Florida Homeschool Convention in Orlando on May 25-27th.