New Beginnings and Jumping in with Both Feet

jumpI didn’t post in January, but I really wanted to.  I just couldn’t announce publicly that we were pulling our kids out of school and starting our homeschooling process. It’s been a really hard decision for my wife and I because we both believe so highly in education. Our 2 in school were facing very different issues, but we felt homeschooling was just too necessary for us at this time.

One is testing 2-3 grade levels above and would very consistently complain, “School is boring.” Our older one has food anaphylaxis to a number of foods. We worked very hard to communicate with her teachers all through her schooling and things were not going well.

We had a teacher say they would keep all unnecessary food out of the classroom unless we could check the ingredients, but one morning my wife stopped by the room and discovered an assortment of goodies that contained foods my daughter is anaphylactic to. My daughter never wants to stand out as a “problem” and would try to not make a scene ever. She has always tried to “fit in” as best she could, she currently only tests slightly above her peers. Again, not standing out.

We look at homeschooling as a great new adventure where they can let their minds go and learn as much as they desire in a worry-free zone. We know they love learning still and I love that my wife’s creativity can have them “playing” for a day with Junk Box Wars and toward evening the kids will ask, “What about school?” They still have a desire to open a book and/or complete worksheets, so we accommodate.

The first day we had them home I asked the girls, “What is learning?” and my oldest sat up straight with her hands in her lap giving me her complete attention waiting for me to fill her head with knowledge. The younger one was not so student-like, but still had a belief that it involved worksheets and textbooks. As we continue our journey, I see them learning differently. They learn faster hands on and I see them being creative in ways that I find wonderful. Our daughter we just pulled from 1st grade showed my wife her paper: number

and asked, “What number is this?” number2

My wife said, “Eleven.”

Daughter, “No it’s not, it’s forty-four!!”🙂

To be fair, my daughter does sometimes write her numbers backwards. School days used to be long. My wife and I shopped long and hard to find the best school for our girls in the beginning and the best started at 8:30 and ended at 4:00. The girls would come home exhausted from either containing themselves or from mentally trying to stay safe and not fall into anxiety mode. They would often come home and just melt down.

Over Christmas break, we saw our girls being “our girls” again and knew homeschooling was in our future. You also should probably understand that we had tried to work with the school a lot as well. We had our 1st grade teacher sending home extra homework (that was a few extra worksheets once each week or so that were either 2nd or 3rd grade level) and my daughter would jump up and do them immediately.  15 minutes later, she’s done and wanting more, but still exhausted from being at school all day.

For our older one, we went through an Individual Health Plan (IHP) and it lacked teeth for infractions, so we went for a 504. We received a LOT of pushback and I showed the school the legality of 504 for students with anaphylaxis and still had a lot of resistance. We were ready to fight all the way until we experienced Christmas Break. Our girls are so much better off learning without school for now. We’ll see how they develop.

My wife resigned as president of the Parent Advisory Committee, but I’m still on the School Board. I still believe school is right for the majority of kids, but I also believe it needs to be appropriate for more. Maybe I’m a bit delusional in thinking that school used to work best for about 98% of the kids, but today I see that number shrinking. Our area has an incredibly strong homeschooling community despite the fact that our area is much higher than the state average, which is consistently in the top 10 in the U.S. Why would such a strong school district have such a strong homeschooling community unless more and more schools were missing the mark? I have to wonder if it’s time for schools to change? I believe so, but I think 40 years ago I was not among the 98% who school was right for, and I know our kids are doing great already with homeschooling, so I may be a wee bit biased.

10 thoughts on “New Beginnings and Jumping in with Both Feet

  1. Ramona Voight

    This will be the best decision of your life. Bless you for the courage to make this bold step, and enjoy the rewards you reap.

    1. Thanks Ramona. My wife and I are loving it so far, and so are the girls. We can also let the little one join in on the fun. She’s just 4, but very ready to learn.

  2. Rochelle

    How wonderful that you and your wife are open to homeschooling and are able to offer the opportunity to your daughters. We homeschool our daughter and we all love it. My husband and I decided early on that we wanted her to ‘thrive not just survive’ and homeschooling was the only place that would happen.

    I love the fact that she gets so much free time to play (and gets fresh air and time to just ‘be’) as it’s amazing how little time you need to actually teach when working in a one-to-one type environment. She’s very bright and gets lots of time to direct her own learning, plus I tailor our learning together to ensure it’s challenging, interesting, engaging and fun.

    Best of luck on your journey.

    1. That’s fantastic Rochelle. I agree completely that it’s a great way to go if it works to fit your needs. I also know many families don’t have the luxury to homeschool no matter what challenges they are facing in school and that’s why I feel the need to stay active with the School Board and try to improve the system. FAPE is a myth right now in many areas and for a significant population. It’s not only hurting our gifted individuals, but most anyone that falls well outside the standard bell curve.

      …and I too look forward to just letting the girls play more, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

  3. MyTwiceBakedPotato

    I loved this post! I applaud you for advocating for your children and making a switch to better serve them. As a mother of a highly- gifted child with severe allergies, I have often thought of Homeschooling. I am a working teacher and agree that we work hard and do well for most-but not all. I believe you might enjoy our story at http://mytwicebakedpotato.com

  4. Beth

    “but I think 40 years ago I was not among the 98% who school was right for”

    I do not believe school was ever meeting the needs of 98%. I don’t think they possibly can. People are so diverse. I am glad you and your wife are meeting the needs of your girls. I personally foundered in school. I hated school, thought I hated learning, found out I just don’t learn in the format they teach.
    I homeschooled my kids and found out I actually enjoy learning. Learning phonics as I taught my kids really helped … and I soared from there. I could read (I have an Associates Degree) but learning phonics and spelling rules made a huge difference.
    I personally pity any child who has to spend their childhood in a classroom. Learning isn’t near as difficult as the schools make it. It is such a natural process. You and your wife are going to love watching your girls blossom. Your daughters are gonna love the freedom to just learn and sharing special moments together as a family. My kids are so thankful they were homeschooled… the freedom, the family bonds. They got an amazing education right here in our living room that was a springboard for the rest of their lives.

    btw, I think it’s great for you to stay on the school board. The voice of diversity will be good.

  5. I am so glad you are staying on your school board for those reasons! Thank you (even though we don’t live near you, as far as I know). I found out too late about 504 for my son. Another boy with similar issues at his high school, basically had a personal assistant (because of section 504) who went to his classes to make sure he got all his homework assignments, written down, make sure he was paying attention, etc. My son still managed to graduate, but it was by the skin of his teeth. This information was given to me by a woman who was the mother of one of my daughter’s friends and who worked at the school and this was one of the things she was assigned to deal with –but she didn’t have access to parents or students —what would have been helpful is if when teachers see that clearly a student is bright, and seems to understand the subject, but never turns in homework, something is going on.

    Maybe that is when a student could be evaluated for an IEP, but the schools don’t seem to want this to happen. They make the parents fight for it, or they just leave us in the dark never knowing we could have gotten the help out son needed. They knew he needed it.

  6. Lenore

    Hi! We had a really similar situation – giiftedness, food allergies, GIEPs, and 504s. My husband was a teacher at the school – it was super uncomfortable. We liberated ourselves four years ago and it was the best thing we ever did. It can be rough in the beginning, but you’ll find your rhythm. Good luck. (The freedom is addictive.)

  7. You guys are awesome for all the support you’ve shown me and my wife. Choosing to pull the girls and seeing the strong community we have joined has made me much more aware of how more schools need to provide Free Appropriate Public Education.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s