Homeschooling affords children the opportunity to be children
I hear this phrase all the time, but at this point in my homeschooling attempts, and yes, they’re attempts. I’m honestly beginning to believe that they must have never homeschooled a beyond difficult, melts down at the sight of 3-digit math, purposely reads backward, bashes head against desk child. There’s absolutely no way that the people who say this phrase have dealt with my daily alcohol inducing child, and I say that very lovingly. I’m pretty sure there’s no “right way” to say that, but we’ll just roll with it.
While he was in school, he was distant and seething, and I didn’t like that. Due to him being labeled as “that child” he was segregated and treated horribly, which absolutely no child, regardless of their situation, should have to go through.
He was forced to sit in a corner with his desk facing a wall the entire time he was in class.
He was formally suspended for defending another child against a bully, who was never dealt with by teachers.
He wasn’t allowed to eat lunch in the cafeteria, because he was seen as a “distraction”.
He wasn’t allowed to see the guidance counselor, who by the way, was never there to begin with.
He would come home saying explicitly sexual phrases that he heard from two children, these phrases were said every day.
He refused to ride the bus to school anymore.
He would come home with torn bookbags and books.
I immediately pulled my child out of public school after a sexual assault incident, where he was the victim. But even before that horrible day happened, he was martyred beyond any comprehensible reasoning.
And after the event happened, he was martyred. The other individual involved admitted to the process, to being the instigator, to forcing the act, yet my child was the only one being “blacklisted” and suspended. I left the school that day in handcuffs because mama bear came out in full force. I went so far as to have most of the school staff fired, in which I partially succeeded and the higher individuals involved, were relieved of their status and position.
So homeschooling seemed like the best route to go because we couldn’t afford a private school let alone a school that specializes in the needs of non-neurotypical children. So after weeks of Googling and making phone calls, I initially decided to go with K-12. Which in hindsight, was the worst choice we could have made for him, as it was a public school. The only difference, it was solely online. You weren’t able to make your own schedule or teach how you wanted to teach that benefitted your child. Everything was laid out, long, dry, and with massive school work on the side. So after about six months of trying, we withdrew him and started on the actual homeschooling journey.
We first got him tested to see where he was academically. We used, and still use Seton testing and highly recommend it as it breaks down where your child is compared to their peers. It’s a little extra money of course, but well worth it to get a solid idea of where to go. The best part about it, it can be done online and at the child’s pace (which is absolutely amazing in my opinion) and it’s recognized, which makes it a pretty solid deal.
Anyway, after we got him tested, I began to Google and Google some more to find homeschool curriculums. Because I’m probably the most disorganized person on the face of the Earth, so I needed something that didn’t leave me to my own devices while trying to prevent my mini-me from their own devices. Quite the predicament if you ask me, but after a few weeks we settled on Sonlight as they offered a structured curriculum. Only at the cost of a Fallopian tube and half your uterus with a tip of a kidney to top it off, but they had a payment plan, so I took it. Thank God I had decent credit, even though it was a fleeting dream.
A few weeks went by and we finally received the entire curriculum. It was so heavy that I had to push the boxes in the house because I couldn’t pick them up. After about an hour of screaming, cussing, sweating, and crying, I finally got everything in the house and was excited to start unpacking. My excitement quickly dwindled away when I noticed that every single thing was biblically based.
To top it off, some of the books were so large they made my college books seem like children’s books. It never occurred to me that the majority of homeschooling curriculums available were predominantly based on religion. So I began to separate the religion based items from the curriculum and that left three reading books left. Even the science book was heavily engulfed in Bible creation.
I just sighed and tried to give it a dedicated go. This curriculum lasted all of two months with my son. He was not having the massive amount of reading, the massive amount of writing, the massive amount of spelling. He just was not having the massive amount of anything this curriculum brought with it.
I cried. I cried a lot actually. Mainly because not only was Sonlight not cheap by any means, but I couldn’t really do anything with the books we did have. I tried to sell them on Ebay, with little to no luck. I went to my local homeschooling bookstore and they wouldn’t take them, Facebook groups, Yardsale groups, no one wanted this curriculum and I was out about $1,200.
What seemed like a dream come true, became a nightmare really really fast. And once again, I was back at square one. No curriculum and no idea what the hell I was doing or supposed to do.
So I started a subject at time. The first book we bought was from HomeScience and he loved it. He loved doing science experiments and reading about all the crazy things that we have on our planet. So then I searched for about a week for a decent math book for elementary kids and came across Tiger Math, immediately hopping on the opportunity to purchase them. The meltdowns still occurred almost daily, but they were easily subdued and we could continue on.
Most days would only take about 2 hours to get through science and math and the rest of the day was left to play, and he enjoyed that. I think even now, him being able to have most of his day dedicated to all sorts of play and crafts is why he enjoys homeschool so much, and we do a science, math, reading, writing and spelling. However, even with that perk, it’s still very much a bitch. There’s no proper way to say that.
Being that my child is non-neurotypical, I have to gauge the day based off how he walks in my room when he wakes up. If he’s pissy, we don’t do homeschool, because it ends in an intergalactic battle on a Star Wars scale and neither party involved win. If he comes in chipper and happy, then we can homeschool it out and it’s done right, little fighting, and he makes me proud.
But there’s so much you’re not told, and there’s not a lot of information out there regarding homeschool. Sure there’s organizations that can help you out, and conventions you can go to at a pretty penny, but for someone just starting out with no friends or connections that homeschool, it can be really difficult.
You aren’t informed how to properly pull your child out of school and what the school is and isn’t allowed to do.
That was my situation. I walked into the school the next day and stated I wanted to pull my child out of school. They refused to give over his school documents and made me talk to the guidance counselor on how public school was in his best interest. After 45 minutes of my time wasted at the cost of massive annoyance, I called HSLDA and shortly after had my child’s documents in hand. So if you are ever confused, or feel you’re being wronged by the district, I highly recommend you call HSLDA and ask what your homeschooling rights are.
What curriculum, if any, is best for your child
For us, as we are secular, finding curriculum’s fitting that is really really difficult. Thankfully, just recently, I discovered Timberdoodle. Which offers both secular and non-secular curriculum at the cost of a Fallopian tube, left kidney tip and half a uterus. However, so far, it’s been well worth the investment as he loves the curriculum, they also offer flexible payment plans through Klarna which was a major win.
Organization is your friend.
I thought I was being trolled when I was told a planner will be your best friend. I wasn’t and it is your absolute best friend. It allows me to break down the day by subject and it allows me to stay on track while keeping him interested and entertained throughout the process. So definitely get a planner, or make it a project and make it, but you’ll definitely want to have it.
Keep Records of Everything!
That is not an exaggeration by any means. Keep records of everything. Keep records of what you send to your school district yearly, keep test scores, everything. So that way if the school district ever comes knocking, you have everything you need to fight that battle.
Forms, Forms & More Forms
Depending on where you live, you may be required to fill out a form and submit details of your homeschooling intention that year, it’s known as Notice of Consent. You fill that out with the required information and send it in. Make sure you understand your states homeschooling statutes and regulations as well. As always, HSLDA has tons of information regarding statutes and a handy phone number if you need to speak to someone.
Homeschooling is exhausting
Unlike traditional school, where you get an opportunity to be away from your children and have much needed you time. Homeschool…they’re there in your face all day every day. You are their counselor, their proctor, their teacher, their principal, their school. So if you’re on the fence about homeschooling, keep that one factor in mind.
Now, this is wholly dependent on where you live, but where I live, my child cannot participate in public/private school sports as he’s not considered a student. It sucks, it really does. However, there are city leagues and homeschool sports teams where he can play them. It’s just more of a hassle and can be quite a bit expensive depending on the sport.
Events and Socialization
If you’re worried about socialization, don’t be. There are always groups of homeschooling parents that throw events for the children in the community, you just have to find the groups. They can usually be found on Facebook, just type in homeschooling groups and they’ll pop up. Most of the events put together trumps just about any school field trip I have ever been a part of. So you can sigh a huge sigh of relief.
In the end, homeschooling your child(ren) can be an absolute bitch with the sheer amount of work, time, cost, and willpower it takes. However, in the long run, if it’s beneficial to your child, take the leap. There are times when my day is packed full of appointments and meetings, and homeschooling allows me to take it with me, or just wait till everything’s done and do it then. I may not even do school that day if we’re super busy, and that’s the flexibility that it allows. That even through all the hoops and headaches, you have full control of when, where, and how you choose to school.
So I’m going to keep trying and failing and battling every meltdown that occurs. Eventually he’ll just give in and schooling will become even easier than it currently is.