Recently I was asked what my goals are for my blog. When I began this blog I was very involved in the PTA at my girls former school. I felt that things were not quite right and I wanted to somehow affect a change, be the catalyst for a larger movement towards a more eco-friendly, student-friendly, safe environment. I began to actively seek change. I met with Principals, Superintendents, Chief Operating Officers. I collected signatures and asked for support. These were not monumental changes I was asking for. For starters I wanted the rugs that carpeted the school wall-to-wall throughout the hallways and classrooms removed. In an 80 year old school, this is unacceptable. I do not have to tell you what young children will drop, heave from their bodies or track in from a playground. Yet 5 year old kindergarteners have nap time on these same rugs. My efforts were for naught. I walked away with the knowledge that it is very very hard to change a school system. Not only did I fail to affect change with the rugs, on a much smaller scale, I was unable to guarantee that my child would have outdoor recess consistently. Rain cancellation is understandable, but my girls were cooped up inside for months on end, not allowed outdoors if there is any snow on the playground. In addition to this I saw the removal of many key elements in our school’s culture. The Halloween Celebrations ended. The morning Patriotic Song ended. Birthday Celebrations ended. Evening concerts ended. Reading Buddies ended. But what was beginning to replace all these endings? Testing, testing and more testing. My children learned chants about testing, they began art class with pep talks about testing, they were taken out of recess for testing and they learned very early on to loathe testing.
Originally my blog was a place to share my efforts with the larger school community, the friends in my neighborhood who knew of my efforts and wanted to be kept informed. After striking my head against a brick wall time and time again, I realized that this is the definition of futility. I gave up. I stopped my involvement in the PTA, I heaved a big sigh of defeat and resigned myself to the fact my children would be okay. They are smart. They know how to take a test well. They get good grades and behave themselves. In effect, they have learned to “do school” very well.
But then Lilah wanted out. I guess she too, was tired of the testing, the busywork, and the children with severe behavior problems. She was tired of feeling different, of not having close relationships, of missing home and wanting to be somewhere else. Teachers were surprised. She has done so well, they all said. She would be missed.
I researched homeschooling again as I did years before. Only this time, I was serious. I know I could do this but I wanted to find out how others did it first. I was amazed at how many blogs are devoted to sharing homeschooling families trials and tribulations, successes and triumphs. But not many were about the first year of homeschooling an older child who was successful in public school. I resurrected my blog, dusted off the keyboard and began to document our journey. My passions were reignited. I love to teach. I teach well. I love to write. I think I write fairly well.
In blogging I am able to show my friends and family what we are doing. Through my posts, pictures and comments, I hope to assuage fears that my girls would lose their social skills, be stuck inside all day and not be able to keep up with public school peers. I wanted to remind doubters that I am in fact a very good teacher, whether it be to a classroom of twenty five third graders, my religious education class I have taught for years, or to my very own children.
Homeschooling is not a big deal. It is not mainstream, but it is becoming more so every day. Every caring, involved, nurturing parent is already homeschooling their children, whether they are teaching them to tie their shoes, ride a bike, brush their teeth, read a book, learn their colors, spell their name, sign I Love You or sing the ABCs. Some parents choose to hold on to this role as their child’s first teacher rather than relinquish it to a stranger whot teaches Kindergarten. Other parents like me, made the choice to send their child to school, confident in the abilities of both my child and her teacher. When my daughter asked to come home for learning, my husband and I honored that request and brought her home. We will continue to teach her at home for as long as it works - for both her and for our family. Right now both our girls are home. One may go back in a year, the other may not. As each child is unique, we will do our best to honor their uniqueness.
I hope to share my experiences with other parents who have children in the public school system and are considering homeschooling. Homeschooling is not for every child and every family. But for some, it can be a profound experience. I clearly remember talking to my husband in the weeks before withdrawing Lilah saying that homeschooling will not harm her. Even if it takes me a while to find my way, she will learn and grow. However, the emotions she was feeling before and after school, her lack of adequate nutrition and her withdrawn behavior was harmful and getting progressively worse. I am so glad to report that all those issues are gone. We will see what the experience is like for her sister. Satisfied in school, she only choose to come home because she was caught wanting to be in two places at once. I told her the opportunity to homeschool may be finite. Right now, I am able to be at home with my children. I cannot guarantee that will always be the case. School will always be waiting for her should she choose to return.
What began as a blog to share my experience homeschooling one child is now a blog about a homeschooling family in transition. Transition from traditional lifestyles, to one that is clearly not traditional. As we evolve and grow, I find joy is sharing this journey with others. I have learned much, laughed often and am beginning to truly live well.
What is the future of my blog? Hard to say really. Would I like to write a book? I always have, but never thought I had a story to tell. Perhaps now I do.