Homeschool: An Education Tool and Parenting Choice.

Our homeschooling adventure has changed much over the course of the last 5 years. The current situation consists of what should be my easiest year yet.  I’ll get to the should be in a minute.

My youngest is no longer homeschooled. I enrolled him in public school after Christmas in 2012. It was time. I was at my wits end on how to teach through his mental disabilities and our family situation caused for him to be far more isolated than I cared for.

Ahhh. No, no, no! Please don’t jump in with Homeschoolers aren’t socialized dogma. (That was so 2 decades ago.)  Kiddo got plenty of socialization, just not with his peers. And just not without me there to hold his hand. So back in march of 2012 I enrolled him in public school for a trial run. He is still there and is blossoming. Yay for awesome teachers! – who put up with overly-involved parents. Because, oh yes, I will come find out what my kid is doing in school. 🙂

His story:

  • Enrolled in Special Needs Charter school from 18 months to 7 years where he got daily therapy to encourage proper walking and talking and basic school skills. Good decision. Check.
  • Homeschool through the highly susceptible, copy everyone’s behavior years (seriously -I worked too hard to teach good behavior to have some other kid whose parents didn’t, teach him things he doesn’t need to learn.) while teaching the basics of numbers and letters and colors, etc. Good decision. Check.
  • Enrolled in Public School once social maturity started kicking in and Mom’s intuitive knowledge on how to teach her own special needs child is exhausted. Good decision. Check.

If only the real-time decision making process had been that cut and dry. Pfft.

My oldest has a slightly different story.

  • Public school from K5-3rd grade where he either failed and was passed on anyway or barely passed.
  • Special one-on-one 6 week tutoring session in 2nd grade which brought him from barely a k5 reading level to a 3rd grade reading level showed me that he was more than capable of the academics he was just lost in the environment.
  • 3rd grade – 6 hours nightly doing 20 minutes worth of homework, battling, fighting, crying, hating school. Pure misery.
  • 2009, withdrew him from public school.

I spent our first year homeschooling basically teaching him not to HATE school. And then every year after that banging my head against the wall trying to get him to DO anything that resembled work.

We tried so many things. He would spend 6 hours doing 20 math problems because he hated it. I got to the point where I didn’t assign much work because he never managed to get it done without me sitting there walking him through it.

From 4th grade to today really is an entirely separate blog post. If I feel compelled to write that one I’ll title it Single-handedly Pushing A Freight Train Uphill. 

Fast forward to today where he is sitting in front of his laptop across the room from me taking a History test online while I blog. We are now in our 2nd semester of online Virtual Public school. Our first semester wasn’t much different than our traditional homeschooling. He did as little as possible and scraped by.  I was just spared the lesson planning and daily teaching.

This semester that is just Not Happening. Oh but he tried.  This semester is high school freshman classes. There is no bare minimum passing. Trust me, he really tried. I’ve never seen someone put so much effort into Not doing something.  Five weeks into school and he’s failing one class and has a D in two more.  Why?  Because I wasn’t sitting there holding his hand and making him do it.

But something shifted for us and it has a lot to do with my new husband. Annoying as it is, he was seeing things from a new perspective. He was seeing me enabling my son’s behavior. And it’s painful as a parent to come to terms with that but he was right. It’s hard to stop although I’m getting much better at sticking to my guns and holding him accountable for his actions.

I felt sorry for him. Born with a speech disorder made it hard form him to make friends and still makes spelling and writing difficult for him, plus his brother is born special needs and everyone gives him all the attention and plus his Dad died when he was 6.  I kept finding excuses for why he was lazy and didn’t want to work.  This parenting stuff is hard work. Being human doesn’t make it any easier, either.

So Freshman high school came as a big shock when his bare minimum wasn’t resulting in a passing grade and suddenly mom’s jumping back in and taking over his school schedule. I’m still not his teacher which is a very good thing for both of us, so I had pretty much let him be on his own with the virtual school. I’d check in and be here if he needed help but I was trying to give him the freedom to mature and be responsible.  Hehe. Duh. You can imagine how well trying to make a 15 year old boy who hates school be responsible for his own school went over. I guess the D’s and F’s tell that story.

So I have a new job as a homeschool mom. I schedule. This is where the should be comes in. I go through all his lessons each day and map out for him what he should be doing and I make sure he does it. He could do this himself. All the information is right there at his fingertips. But he doesn’t; so I do. And we had meltdown and attitude and drama for a week or so. (Who says boys can’t have drama? Pa-lease.) But the dust settled and he’s actually feeling pretty good about himself because he’s seeing that this stuff really isn’t too hard for him. He can do it. And he now has solid B’s and A’s in all his courses. And he likes how that feels.

And even though the daily grind of force him to do it, don’t distract him, keep him focused is exhausting for me, it’s my job right now. And it’s the hardest one yet. I can’t leave him alone but yet I have nothing much to do at home. I am a presence. I am the scheduler and the re-focuser. It’s boring, oh so very boring, but it’s necessary because the minute I walk out the door he’s in la la land.

Oh, look, a fly. 

It makes me feel trapped but it’s necessary because it is what he needs in a parent right now. Mommy before Me.  It’s difficult, yes. And yes, it’s a choice. Don’t you get tired of always giving to others and never putting yourself first? Yes. Yes, I do. But this is the part of parenting we seem to have lost in America. I love my children. But outside of that, I have a responsibility. I got pregnant.  I bore these children. I made this choice. I have a duty and a responsibility to them and to God. Pretty soon my nest will be emptier. One day I will have more luxury over my time and energy. More freedom to do as I will. For now, I have children to raise. It’s my job. My commitment. My contribution to our world. I do not intend to take it lightly.

And homeschooling is part of that for me. Thank God our family has the option.

The moral of our story: Be a parent even when it’s hard. And homeschool doesn’t have to be “A Way of Life.” Sometimes it’s just one choice of many in our arsenal as parents to do what is best for our kids. And it’s not easy. And it doesn’t take some special knowledge or secret stash of patience. It just takes a desire to do what is best for our child(ren) and being willing to deal with what that choice means.

Every Choice has a consequence – good or bad, so work to make the right one. Even when it doesn’t feel like it’s really a choice. And not choosing is still a choice.

Nice try, though. 

J-

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