The Homeschooling Year of Not Homeschooling

DJ BLOGIt is time to revisit the subject of homeschooling since the beginning of the traditional school year is drawing near. A lot has changed for my oldest since my initial blog post. It took a lot for us to even come to the decision to home school him, but it was mostly relating to “behavior problems” in the school system that were more a response to him not thriving in a classroom environment. He is rooted in gross motor movement in an environment that requires prolonged sitting. It has been a recipe for disaster from the beginning. His homework was rarely completed, even more rarely turned in, and yet he still came home with excellent grades. This told me that he also was not being adequately challenged by the curriculum.

At the birth of our second child, my husband decided that he wanted me to stay at home with him. I was obliged to this idea since I didn’t feel ready to return to work until he could enter a good private Montessori or Waldorf program. This was not an option for my oldest since he has a different father, and his father was not willing to pay a portion of the tuition. Since I was already staying home with my youngest, I began researching homeschooling for my big boy with diligence. Once I presented my decision to homeschool to my husband, he immediately jumped on the idea of also homeschooling our child. He confessed that he didn’t want to say anything because he didn’t want to hold me back from my career, but he wanted nothing more than for his son to be homeschooled. The studies are conclusive, homeschooling students simply do better in all areas of life – when they are taught with love and consistency. And so our homeschooling journey officially began.

My next step was to work on convincing my oldest son’s biological father. That task didn’t prove to be quite as simple. It took over two years of constant behavior problems at school before he agreed to give it a try. His usual suggestion was to let him attempt a different school and home environment by doing a trial year with him. I was hesitant to agreeing to this for a number of reasons. The biggest one is that we live in two different states. It would be his third elementary school, and he has experienced behavior problems at the first two. It doesn’t address the issue of him not being adequately challenged by the curriculum.

His father agreed to allow me to homeschool him for 5th grade, however, towards the end of 4th grade my son’s behavior became increasingly disruptive. The disruption was always followed by “I want to live with my dad!” Thankfully with my work and educational background, I knew this was normal, especially beginning at the age of 9 or 10. When he started to become aggressive and attempting to break things, I felt that the homeschooling intervention may have come too late. At this point and time, more than anything, he needed me to hear him. He needed to know that I was listening to his needs.

This is hard. My needs as his mother consist of holding him tight and protecting him from the rigors of the world. My need is to prepare him, nurture him, and love him as he grows. I had to let go of those things to relinquish myself to meeting his need. I had to let go of my control over his life. He was no longer asking. He was demanding.

So our current plan for him is to do a trial year with his father. He will attend school there. We will reassess at the end of the school year. Unfortunately, as is the case for most 10 year olds, he has very unrealistic expectations. It is often not until something is experienced, that it is internalized. My wish is that he learn that the grass is not greener on the other side, but that the grass is greener where it is nurtured.

In the meantime, I am going to do some informal work with my 2 year old, and I hope to post about that as the time comes along. I will be continuing my research on curriculums and styles. At present, I am leaning heavily towards a Waldorf style education and curriculum. It seems to fit well with my emotionally sensitive and physically rooted boys. Oak Meadows is our current top choice for curriculum. I want to start off with a purchased curriculum, especially with my oldest since we are entering this later in the game.

I am currently reading School as a Journey: The Eight-Year Odyssey of a Waldorf Teacher and His Class. This passage really spoke deeply to me and our current situation:

“No longer at one with the environment, the third-grader now experiences the world ‘outside’ as being separate from the Self. The child at this age wants to make decisions but is only gradually developing the inner resources to do so. The natural authority figures of mother and father are often questioned at this age…

The nine-year change represents one of many instances when parents and teachers need to ‘let go.’ The old patterns if interaction with the child may no longer suffice; a new way of resolving issues needs to be developed.”

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