When I became a parent, I never thought I would end up here. Homeschooling. I always assumed that my children would go to daycare and then public school. I would work teaching my own group of students and coaching in the evenings. But you know what they say, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”
We did the work part and the daycare part, we even tried the public school part. That is where things started to go very, very wrong. My daughter, who LOVED school, started shutting down. Completely. The worst day was when I was called to pick her up early because she was refusing to participate. I had to physically pick her up, kicking and screaming. Every teacher was staring out of their classroom door with looks of judgements on their face. When we got to my car she tried to run away. That is when the bug of homeschooling crept into my ear. Maybe school just wasn’t for her, maybe I didn’t need to work teaching other people’s children, when my own so desperately needed help. Maybe we could do it.
Oh what I didn’t know.
See, the thing with homeschooling is that you start reading and researching obsessively once you get the bug. Everyone’s blogs are filled with beautiful lessons, artwork and fun. It looks so easy. I mean, I was a trained teacher, what could be so hard? I couldn’t fathom a single problem, in fact I knew we would be so great at homeschooling that my daughter would graduate early. My confidence, while well intended, was so misplaced. I had convinced myself that my daughter’s problems were with public school and their demanding far too much. Yet, I didn’t see myself doing the exact same thing. I didn’t see myself picturing a child that didn’t exist, one who was eager to learn, willing to please, and loved the same things I did. But my child is not that child.
We didn’t survive our first year. There were so many tears and arguments. Every dream about homeschool I had was shattered. We went back to school. Not public school, but a very tiny private school. I was still her teacher, but there were other students and other adults. I had backup. Nothing changed. There was still many days where she would refuse to work, where I would lose my temper (in the car), and tears would be shed by all.
We went back to homeschooling. My dreams and plans were even grander, because I am human and have a really hard time learning what God is trying to teach me. “3rd Grade is a great grade!” I said. We would do novel studies, intricate history projects, I could start my own blog about how amazing homeschooling is. Except it wasn’t. Nothing changed. Refusing. Fighting. Tears. Exasperated, I broke down and called the public school. My daughter was THRILLED! Anything to get away.
Ouch. She didn’t want to be around me.
I realized, then, that what I had been focusing on as a one sided problem, namely her, was actually two sided. Sure she has her problems with learning, but I was trying to teach a different child than what I had. I felt like a fraud. Had I been in the classroom I would have been bending over backwards trying to meet this child where she was at and celebrating every single little achievement she made. At home I was teaching and parenting out of frustration and fear and most of that fear was that I would look bad. I was afraid of the judgement of others over the needs of my child. Foolish human.
In the beauty of homeschooling, we’ve made some changes. We’re staying positive and stopping when the negative vibes start creeping back in. We’re aiming for joy instead of progress. If you’re going to homeschool it will not go as planned. It will not meet your expectations. It will break your heart and maybe your spirit, but if you let it, if you make it your priority, it can also bring insurmountable joy.