When my daughter was about 2 I went to a homeschool meeting in our area. You see, in my head, I’d always planned to homeschool. I never had any intention of sending my kiddo off to public school.
However, my kiddo is what you call, spirited. If you’re not familiar with the term spirited, here’s a basic definition from the leading expert.
The spirited child—often called “difficult” or “strong-willed”—possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children. Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be “more”—by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child. ~ Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
In real life, 99.9% of the time this led to feeling like “I’m a terrible mother”. To say my experience of being a parent differed from the story I’d created in my head about how it would be were vastly different would be the understatement of a lifetime.
So… she was 3 years old, or thereabout… those early years are a blur from lack of sleep, we were at a local town fair, and she ran up to every kid she could find and said, “My name’s Hanna, do you want to be my friend.” I fell down the rabbit hole of OMG I’m a terrible mother, she doesn’t have enough socialization!! We do live in the country, 10 miles from a town, with no other kids… but by that point in time I was so shell shocked by parenting I was pretty sure there wasn’t a thing I could do right.
So we sent her on in to preschool. My goal for her first year of preschool was just to socialize, get to know other kids, and learn to interact with people well. Let’s just say, she was the kid sitting on the carpet next to the teacher. 🙁 But things started to settle down. She started to look like she was thriving in a school setting. She graduated from preschool, went to Kindergarten. It was all day Kindergarten, and I’m going to be honest here… I was glad she was gone for the whole day. Parenting in the early years was more than I ever expected, and by year 5 I was thinking it was more than I could handle.
She did well in Kindergarten, academically speaking, she did well in first grade too. She did well, academically, through 4th grade. However, around second grade I started seeing a change in her. I started to see a little girl who loved to read refusing to read. I started seeing a little girl who loved to learn not want anything to do with learning.
Things grew worse and worse the next couple years. She was a perfect angel at school, she followed all the rules, did everything anyone asked of her, had lots of friends, was helpful and kind, was the perfect student, got straight A’s, was everyone’s favorite kid… but then she would come home. She’s be full of anger, yelling, bickering, starting fights. We’d end up in long drawn out arguments about getting homework done. We’d both end up in tears by the time it was over. It was awful.
I don’t even want to talk about mornings. 🙁 Mornings were a nightmare. She wouldn’t get out of bed. She would just yell about how much she hated school and didn’t want to go. The more this went on the more anxious and controlling I became. If I could just get the night right. If I could just get her to do the dishes and go to bed on time, so she’d get enough sleep, she’d be able to get up in the morning, and we could get out the door on time, without a huge fight. HA. Yeah, that didn’t really work.
Our relationship was in the toilet. I could see things weren’t working for her at school, but at that point I couldn’t even consider homeschool. I didn’t think there was any way we could be together all day, every day, without killing each other!! We were constantly at each other. It would have been ugly.
I think she was in 3rd grade when I found mindfulness. Yeah, it seems weird, but mindfulness and meditation led me onto a path that completely and utterly changed my relationship with her. On the journey I found a few books that really helped me look at myself and parenting differently, as well as how I saw our relationship. The first one was ScreamFree Parenting, the second, and profoundly family changing, was Parenting in the Present Moment. As I began implementing the strategies in these books things started to change between us. Things got better. I wanted to spend more time with her.
I believe in learning. I believe an eagerness to learn is the biggest asset one can have in their life. You can literally do anything, if you’re willing to learn. My husband and I have built multiple successful businesses, not because we went to school and learned how to do it, but because we were willing to learn and figure it out. I believe in learning.
I do not believe our schools have the desire, or ability, to foster a love of learning. Granted, she had some great teachers when she was in school, I’m not knocking teachers, or public schools even, but it’s a system. It’s a system designed to produce workers, not great independent thinkers. Don’t even get me started about memorization and regurgitation for tests… yeah, let’s not go there.
As the years in public school rolled on, her desire to learn continued to decline, to the point where she refused to learn anything, (outside of what she was doing in school ~ she still did all her schoolwork with a smile on her face while she was there), or even think about anything that looked like learning. 🙁 Our relationship had changed over the last few years and I began to believe in myself, and my ability to homeschool her. It took a while for me to get the confidence to pull her out of school. I joined a ton of homeschool groups over the years. I dove into the internet to learn everything I possibly could about homeschooling. I read a ton of books about all the different philosophies of homeschool.
Finally, we just jumped in. The summer before her 5th grade year I filled out the paperwork, and did what I had to do to make our homeschool legal and pulled her out of school. So here we are. Our first year of homeschool. We’ve had our ups and downs. She’s no longer a spirited child, she’s a spirited tween. She is still MORE in every way, and yet we’re doing it. We’re making it. We’re actually enjoying it!
I’d say we’re eclectic homeschoolers, who lean heavily toward child led learning. We pull things from different philosophies that work for our family. I’ve definitely had to be aware of the choices I make when it comes to “curriculum”. She’s still remembering that it’s fun to learn, and anything that looks too much like school gets huge resistance. But that’s ok. I understand it, and that’s the huge benefit of homeschool. We can learn our way. I’m willing to be creative and open minded, and rework things until they work for us! Which means I’ve put away all those Intellego Unit Studies I thought were going to be PERFECT! Ah, maybe next year. 🙂
With this site, I hope to share not only our journey with homeschooling, but the things that work (and don’t work) for us, and provide a little encouragement for new homeschoolers. It can be really daunting, starting a homeschool journey. Going against the grain, on your own, is hard. But it’s worth it. You really can homeschool. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and wonder if you’re ruining your kid… but you’re not. You really can do it. You really, really can. <3