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?”
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.
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.
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.