When we first considered homeschooling our oldest 3 years ago, I was completely scared out of my pants. I had a background in special education and had worked as an ABA therapist and 1:1 in schools and private programs for years prior to having my kids, but educating your child and being the sole source of their academic program is daunting! After all, I had never been a homeschool-campaigner, fighting the good fight and telling everyone and anyone that would listen about the evils of traditional school and the perks of homeschool. I knew of a few friends who planned to do it with their kids (ironically very few did in the end), but it was never in “the plan” for us. We struggled brutally with whether or not we should or even could homeschool our oldest when things really got rough his kindergarten year. He was in the middle of all of his first evals as well, so we had far less information to go on at the time.
Our oldest had attended a private preschool with a much-loved teacher who unfortunately chose to retire that year and treated my son’s preschool year with about as much concern as a junior high student sitting on the edge of his/her seat waiting for the bell to ring so he/she could jet out of class. He went into preschool able to write his name, the alphabet and identify all the letters and their sounds. He left unable to even sing the alphabet, unable to identify some letters and unable to write all of them. He even struggled to write and spell his own name.
From there he attended a different private school for kindergarten, again also well-praised (even by friends we knew and one who worked there), and we had the worst year of our lives. Our son ended kindergarten emotionally scarred, barely able to read, unable to write all of his letter (a skill he’d acquired well before the age of 5) and fairly traumatized.
Like so many other special needs parents, we made the difficult decision to move forward with homeschooling after a year of complete and utter hell, failure to significantly progress and just general stress for our oldest and for us. Our son was bullied by his peers, treated poorly and misunderstood by his teacher (who even went so far as to bop him on the head with a book in her hand once) and was losing mastered skills left and right. I wish we’d felt comfortable enough to do it a few months into his kindergarten year, but we felt like we were flying blind and instead spent at least 1 day per week speaking with the principal, his teacher and eventually the headmaster his entire kindergarten year.
What shocked me most was the fact that I did my homework before he attended this school. I asked all the right questions, grilled his future teacher and principal about flexibility and adapting to kids that don’t “fit the mold” and I poured over reviews and test scores.
The bottom line is, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Sometimes schools lie, sometimes they haven’t seen a profile like your child’s and sometimes … it just is what it is.
Choosing to homeschool was a last-resort at the time, but I wish it hadn’t been. I wish we’d felt more confident and not as though we were somehow offering our son “less” by not putting him in a traditional school for 1st grade. The fact of the matter was, our son desperately needed individualized attention and a program that catered to him 100%. But even more so, he needed a year to emotionally decompress. He loved the idea of school prior to preschool and even in preschool (despite his lackadaisical teacher and emerging difficulties). By the time he finished kindergarten he hated school with bitter resentment–a sentiment we’ve only begun to chip away at 3 years later.
I’ll discuss homeschooling our boys in future posts (including the curriculum we have used and currently use), but I just wanted to encourage you to feel confident if you’re thinking about homeschooling your child. Not that I think it’s the right choice for everyone by any means and it certainly wasn’t in the original plans for us, but if you are capable of doing it and you truly feel in your heart it’s the best thing for your child emotionally and academically … don’t second-guess yourself so much!
If there’s one thing I see constantly in ADHD and special needs forums I’m in it’s parents with the same fears and worries I had when we were considering and first began homeschooling.
Is it a lot of work? Absolutely.
Are there days you wonder if you’ve made the right choice? Almost certainly.
Is seeing your child relax and progress academically without “failure” being slapped on their foreheads worth it? A million times over!
Again, it’s not the right choice for everyone and I absolutely suggest doing a lot of research and soul-searching ahead of time, but don’t feel bad or worry yourself to the point of physical illness (been there!) if you’re thinking about homeschooling.
I’ll be talking about this again soon because I think it’s a very frequently discussed topic, but until then, take a breath, hug your child and tell yourself you know your child enough to make the right choice!