Homeschool Taboo? Q & A

Since I’ve written my first article about deciding to homeschool, I’ve gotten a lot of questions while out in public from people who’ve read the article and from people that I or my son mentions it to in regular conversation. I’ve grappled internally with some of the questions, so I’ve decided to answer some of the more popular ones here.

A question I get asked a lot is “How is homeschool going?”

Answer:

Well, for one it’s summer, and we are both on break! Lol! But even before the schools went on summer break, I hesitated to answer this question. It felt like pressure. I literally withdrew my son at the end of April with only one month of school left. We weren’t “doing” anything. I felt like I would be judged for that. I felt like I was judged for that. Maybe it was just my own lingering insecurity about it.

But then I wondered why the hell I even cared what anyone thought. My child went to school all year. By the time May rolls around, no one is at school because they want to be- teachers included. So yeah, no school work for the last month of “school.” Hopefully everyone’s ok with that. If not, I am!

Next questions. . .

Question: So what/how are you teaching him?

I’m teaching him whatever I want and whatever he wants to learn! And sometimes he’s teaching himself. And sometimes he’s learning without “teaching.” Like when he was three and learned that Walmart was Walmart before he could read because he paid attention.

I’m teaching him the same way I taught him the alphabet and how to count. The same way I taught him his name and how to write it. I’m teaching him the same way I taught him baby sign language when he couldn’t talk. The same way I taught him to look both ways before he crosses a street, but not to cross a street without a grownup.

I’m teaching him the same way I taught him to potty. The same way I taught him to brush his teeth and bathe. I’m teaching him the same way I taught him to iron his clothes. The same way I’m teaching him to drive.

I am his first and best teacher.

Question: What curriculum are you using?

Answer:

We’re not using a curriculum. In the beginning, I felt shameful about this answer, too. I made the decision in confidence, because I know what is best for my child. But I felt like we would be looked at as a delinquent family. I have gotten a couple of weird looks about it, but guess what? I got over that, too. I don’t know if or when we will use a curriculum. It won’t be soon, as far as I know. I have other plans. When we are come off of our break, we will focus on reading and identity/self-discovery. There is no curriculum for how I want to teach it. The foundations of this may take six months or the entire year. I am okay with slowing down to speed up.

Question: How will you know if he’s on par?

Answer:

With whom? Allowing children learn at their own pace is a huge reason for homeshooling, whether your child struggles or is advanced. What I do know is that lots (most that I know or have read about) of homeschooled children matriculate early. Being “on par” is not one of our concerns or focus.

Question: What about socialization?

Answer:

Your children aren’t socializing at school. If they are, you’re probably getting calls or notes sent home. They are not allowed to talk in class except to answer questions or when they work in groups. They are not really allowed to talk in line when changing classes or going to lunch. Teachers take up precious minutes of eating time to get students to be quiet before they proceed to the cafeteria.

If your child, like mine, is getting bullied, he or she is not learning socialization skills. They are likely trying desperately to find coping skills that work.

My son is an only child and the oldest grandchild who spent the majority of time during his formative years with family, which means 98% adults. It’s why when he did start talking, his vocabulary was advanced. And even before he could talk, his comprehension was always well beyond his ages and stages.

He also has friends and activities he does outside of school. I promise you homeschooled children are not hermits.

Question: What are your hours? How do you have enough time to teach him?

Answer:

If you’re asking whether I have set hours for my child to sit down and look at books all day, the answer is no. School is not from 8 – 3. That method wasn’t working for him.

Question: What about when it’s time to graduate?

Answer:

We’re not there yet. I have a lot to learn. I don’t know everything, but we’re committed to the process. What I do know is that homeschooled children successfully graduate every year, and that a lot of the child prodigies you read about in the media are homeschooled children.

Question: Have you thought about private school, charter school, or Montessori?

Answer:

He’s gone to two different charter schools. I liked different things about each. However, homeschool is not a last resort for us. It is a first choice. In fact, public school was a last resort. If I’d realized years ago that homeschool really was a viable choice, I never would have sent my son. I thought putting him in school was something I “had” to do. Homeschool is first choice for us.

Question: Are you going to put him back in school later?

Answer:

No. See previous answer.

There is a world of options and support out there for parents who want to homeschool. It’s not right or wrong or good or bad to homeschool or to put your children in regular school. Decide what works for your family and when. Maybe you want to homeschool and can’t right now. Make a plan for it and stick to it. Whether two-parent or single-parent household, talk to your children about it, and involve them in the process. If you’ve just been curious about homeschooling and puzzled about how it works or why people do it, I hope I’ve been able to shed some light.

If this post has helped you in any way, please share it with others you think it would benefit. Leave a comment to let me know how it helped. If you have more questions, hit the contact button. I do reply to comments and emails.

It’s Our First Day of Homeschool!

Today is our first day of homeschool!

I started entertaining the idea at the beginning of the year when my frustration with the public school system reached an all-time high. But I’m not a stay-at-home-mama yet, so I had serious doubts about being able to homeschool and work. It felt impossible, and I thought I’d be judged harshly for doing things a certain way. By whom, I’m not sure. I’m being very transparent right now. It was just an irrational fear, and I’ll be the first to tell you that most of our fears are irrational.

I knew I had to do something though, so I made a Facebook post to get feedback from my network. As expected, my Facebook peeps came through. I got everything from “I wish I could!” to I do/did it, but not while working” to “Try private school or a different school district.” I even received offers for consultations. And while all were meant to be helpful and taken as such, my heart began sliding into despair as I read through the comments. What I wanted to know was “Is it possible? Can I homeschool while being a working mom?”

Wait.

Scratch that. Let me rephrase.

I needed to know, to be told, that I could do it. That someone else had done it, no matter how hard it was. My spirit needed that. I could take it from there.

I joined a local homeschool group on Facebook that someone had suggested. Then I listened to this podcast. It changed my whole perspective and validated everything I’d been thinking and feeling regarding homeschooling and my son’s education. Suddenly, I knew I could do it. I knew it was the best thing to do. And I determined that we would begin homeschooling in the upcoming school year. I began researching homeschooling methods, unschooling, curriculums, etc. I joined a bunch of homeschool groups so I could begin friending other homeschooling families and stay in the know.

I’m going to be honest here. I work. During the day. Outside of my home. I own a small business, and it pays the bills. I’m also a single parent. I will have to be strategic about how I manage my time and take on clients. I don’t know how I would do this if I had a regular 9-5, but knowing myself, I would make a plan and a way. My son’s education and life are that important. That brings me to why I decided to homeschool in the first place.

Academics

Quite simply, traditional schools are ill-equipped to meet my son’s academic needs. It took me awhile to realize this. Growing up, I excelled in school because the environment and the methods were conducive to my learning style. I had pretty good memory recall. My grandmother used to say I had the memory of an elephant. I was a great test taker. I loved to read and write, and that’s how I learned. School was a breeze for me! It was reading, writing, and test taking. Straight As and honor roll! Great! I was always praised for this, as though it was something I’d done. I used to say, “All I did was study. Anyone can be ‘smart’ if they study.” And while that is true, I never realized that traditional ways of teaching and study methods catered to my style of learning. . . .until my son came along. My son is very intelligent. But he learns differently. Even with wraparound services, which I feel were poorly executed and maintained, it wasn’t good enough. I don’t entirely blame the school. the whole system is flawed. Teachers and students are casualties of that system.

Bullying

The bullying problem was out of control, and seemingly out of my control. My son has been bullied for three years straight, and despite encouraging him to tell me and his teachers so that we can make it stop, what he’s learned is that no one can make it stop. As a parent, it’s such a bad feeling to not be able to protect your child. What’s worse is experiencing an erosion of trust between you and your child due to your seeming inability to protect him. That alone is worth homeschooling.

Identity & Control

There’s very little cultural representation and zero reinforcement of self-identity. My son told me that there are no brown people in his history lessons. Imagine going through six hours of study everyday and never seeing yourself represented, while also being teased about your hair (even by kids who look like you, which is a whole other issue).

Not to mention, public schools guard children like dogs against their own parents. I never was sure if they were guarding the children or the classrooms. I’ve never been comfortable with that.

When I realized how stressful it was for me to advocate for my son’s education and safety, I began to question why I was even waiting to withdraw him. Yesterday, I kept my son home and sent a withdrawal email to his principal and a few other key staff. His principal responded in acknowledgement and simultaneously put a crack in my heart. Somewhere deep down I was hoping that I’d have to check in with the school verbally to verify that the withdrawal email was received.

Just a month ago, I’d sent an email to the principal and attached two voice clips of a conversation I’d secretly recorded between my son and me, regarding the bully situation at his school. I knew my son wouldn’t have been so open if he’d known he was being recorded. In the email, I also included details of an incident of bullying that he’d told me happened that very same day and expressed my concern for his safety. I ended requesting a scheduled appointment. I have not received a response to that email.

A week or so after the email, I went up to the school and asked the administrator to have the principal call me at his earliest convenience to schedule an appointment. I never received a phone call. So to receive a response to the withdrawal email within hours. . . .deeply saddened and disappointed me. It also reaffirmed that I made the right decision.

Welcome home, Son.

Spring Break Blues and Gratitude

surviving spring break with gratitude
Me right before drifting into the deepest sleep ever.

This picture is my face after only three hours of sleep in the last 36+ hours, a hospital visit, cleaning up lots of vomit, and tending to a sick and very cranky preteen.

A thought ran across my mind that this week did not turn out the way it was supposed to.

– My son’s Spring Break plans were canceled last minute. He was supposed to spend a few days in Houston with his  aunt, but unforeseen circumstances prevented that.

– Consequently, the extra work I’d piled onto my schedule (some of which could not be rescheduled) in anticipation of having extra time on my hands prevented me from being able to do anything fun with him.

– Of course, he was major disappointed about not spending Spring Break with his aunt, whom he hasn’t seen in quite some time. To a 12-year-old, it didn’t matter that none of this was my fault or his aunt’s.

– Additionally, a fun field trip I had planned for him and postponed in lieu of the Houston trip could not be rescheduled for this week, which added insult to injury for him. (By the way, I’ll chronicle the field trip next week, so be on the  lookout for that!)

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Looking at this week like. . .

These were minor things, little speed bumps in our week that slowed us down but didn’t stop us. I’d been in a space of deep gratefulness all week for everything and nothing at once.

BUT THEN. . . .

Thursday night after dinner, we were hanging out in our living room watching one of those pointless YouTube shows that kids watch, where other kids are pranking each other or making slime, when my son started complaining that his stomach was hurting. I gave him water. I thought he’d just eaten too much. It got worse, and about 11 p.m. when he began crying in agony, I knew we’d better get to a hospital. We arrived around 11:30 p.m. and didn’t leave until 5:30ish. Turns out my kid needs more fiber in his diet. The doctor ordered an enema. Haha! He was not expecting that! One day this will be sooo embarrassing for him to read! LOL! Anyway, when we arrived home, I immediately shed all my clothes, threw them in the washer, and had him do the same, because hospitals. Ew! So after showering and washing my hair (a feat in itself), I slept from approximately 7 a.m – 10 a.m. when the kid woke me up because he was feeling queasy. Then the vomiting started. And there was a store trip in between cleaning vomit (fun, right?) and just comforting him and making sure he was ok. And mopping with bleach and washing vomit-y clothes and bath mats. And of course, making sure I got  aaaalllll the splash off the doors and door frames. Listen.

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Motherhood- 10, Me- 0

Keep in mind, except for those three hours, I’d been awake since 7 a.m. on Thursday. It was now Friday noon. The last thing I had planned for him, a lock-in hosted by the student ministry of Concord Church, was now looking like it also wouldn’t happen because of how sick he was.

So all of these things flashed through my head in a matter of seconds. I dwelled on them all of ninety seconds and let them go. Corrected and banished them. NO. YESTERDAY didn’t turn out how I thought it would, and that’s okay. It happens. I reminded myself that my son was able to learn some valuable lessons this week. He worked with me and was able to work off a small debt ($10) he owed me that will not have to come out of his allowance. He spent two days at a friend’s  he hadn’t visited in awhile. We were able to go to the movies, and he graduated to another level of independence. I allowed him to go and watch a different movie with his friend while us mothers were in a theater right down the hall. We ate out, and I taught him about tipping. He was able to witness the power of prayer Thursday night, as I prayed with him in the car and his stomach pains had subsided by the time we reached the hospital. And as it turned out, he was well enough to attend the student lock-in! 

Not only did this week turn out just fine, but there have been lots of exciting things happening that I’ve been working toward which I will share with you all as they unfold. 

As I contemplate how easy it was to almost get caught up in a complaining spirit, I realize how important it is to consistently practice gratitude. I was able to come back from those thoughts so quickly because my son and I end every day in gratitude. In our bedtime prayers, before we ask for anything- forgiveness, protection, healing, etc. -we give thanks for everything we can think of. The more we give thanks, the more things we find we have to be grateful for. If you’re reading this, I encourage you to make gratitude a daily practice for yourself and your family. You will live life so much deeper and so much richer. 

Oh, by the way. . . . Today, I slept my butt off!

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If this touched you in any way, leave me thoughts your below. Love you! 

Mom Enough

how to feel like a good enough parent

 

Being a mother is one of the scariest, most challenging, most fun, nerve-wrecking, most beautiful + amazing, most awesome, most demanding, sometimes confusing, most sacrificial, most prayer-warranted, most selfless, most rewarding jobs/roles there is.

To all the moms out there who have already raised children, I honor you. It is NO SMALL FEAT to maneuver another human being (let alone several) from infancy to adulthood with no handbook, with a nurturing spirit, with care and constant prayer, with concern, with joy, with devotion. . . .and to release your greatest work into the world and hope that they are received well.

To my sisters, my friends, and to all the mothers who are currently raising children: I salute you for attempting this mom life every day without the handbook that we all wish we had and ending each day somehow (sometimes) with your sanity intact (or wondering exactly how sane you are).

Today, more than ever before, there is a push to have the best-dressed, most intelligent, well-spoken, well-rounded, kidpreneur-in-fourth-grade, ivy league-accepted-in-kindergarten, billionaire-by-25 children. And some days it’s all you can do to get them in the tub by 8 p.m. and to bed by 10 p.m. Give yourself GRACE, celebrate yourself today, and allow what you can do today to be enough.