My First-Year Journey as a Homeschooling Mother: The Good, The Bad, and the Wonderful
I'm a homeschooling mother of two children. I was nervous about homeschooling. Many thoughts ran through my head. What if I fail at this? What if my children don't learn anything? What are my in-laws find out? (My in-laws hate my existence.) What if the police or child protective services comes knocking at the door, asking weird questions? What am I forgetting? I was a mess. I had to mentally return and ask myself why I started to homeschool in the first place.
My son wasn't learning much in first grade because his peers fought too much. The teacher was more preoccupied with breaking up fights and disciplining the offenders. I volunteered in her class, and many children didn't know how to write numbers or letters or do any basic math. My son was ahead, and he wasn't learning. My daughter was accused of having ADHD in third grade, and the principal threatened that the only way she would get extra tutoring is if I Had her diagnosed and medicated. That was not going to happen because of the extreme dangers of ADHD medications, especially on young hearts. I began to make a case against the school, the principal apologized for hiding test scores that qualified my daughter for tutoring, and I received the 'stink eye' from that principle ever since that time. My daughter still struggled in math, and it was because the teacher and school hid mid-year test scores, and they mentioned that a student who was doing 'above average' was a student who was scoring fifty-two percent or above. That is abhorrent. I was appalled that their standards were set so low, and I felt, no, I KNEW, that I could do better for my children.
I felt that my children were a bit 'ahead' in many areas because of their exposure to ABC Mouse when they were younger. It was an app that was quite educational and customized to the student's age. The app had fun in-game activities that included tickets to earn prizes for their virtual classroom. My children, at ages 8 and 9, were still very much into tablets, electronics, and computers, so I decided to try a few educational apps on their Android devices. I experimented with many of those apps and tried and bombed with several of them. The app that was the absolute best for my Children was Acellus. Acellus was an app that tracks student hours, attendance, scores, and breaks everything up into semesters when used in Homeschool Mode. The price was extremely reasonable, and the classes cover everything from Kindergarten to college preparation. Acellus shows a student a video with a teacher instructing on a grade level appropriate subject. Then the teacher, through the video, presents questions that need to be answered. Each subject has a different teacher, and the beauty is that Acellus allows a homeschooling child to study at a lower grade level or learn on a higher grade level. I had my daughter taking 3rd-grade math to catch up on everything she missed out on. I noticed that my son is a bit behind in spelling and phonics, and by taking note of this, I can customize his curriculum by adding supplementing material that is helpful to him. In addition to Acellus, I gave them workbooks that I found online on Amazon and Lakeshore Learning. These workbooks included cursive practice, journal writing, math, word ladders, grammar, and more. They each have about six workbooks to work on before or after Acellus. On their tablets, I added other apps that are beneficial, and that is also considered part of their homeschool curriculum. I added meditation apps for both, 'Monster Words' and 'Teach my Monster to Read' for my son to help with spelling. My daughter has an art app that shares a new piece of art every day, and she also has a diary app so she can record how she's feeling. I bought more Lakeshore products that helped, such as the multiplication machine and blocks to help with place value.
Homeschooling was not always a success. This is my first year officially homeschooling. I had to do a massive amount of research to find out how to legally homeschool in Texas. I signed up for two leagues that fight for homeschool justice and provide a lawyer if the police or child protective services shows up. I have had to hide homeschooling from my father in law and mother in law, as they both hate me because of my skin color. They wanted their son to marry a Caucasian woman, and since he didn't, I earned the brunt of their insults, schemes, and threats. My husband mentioned once, to his father, that he was thinking about homeschooling. The father, of course, said it to the wife and she threatened to call child protective services and mention that homeschooling was child abuse. I lived in fear in my first months of homeschooling because of her threats. And threats can happen when a mom is homeschooling, so we had to say that we enrolled the children in public school, even though it's not true. I hate 'living a lie,' but it's what best for the safety of the children and our family at this time. Before homeschooling, I had so many amazing ideas. I thought I had to be scheduled, organized, and have everything planned. I thought that on Fridays, we would learn about a new artist, and then paint on a canvas in the style of that artist. It worked out that ways for three weeks, then life happened. My children's biological father came into town, and other events occurred, and those plans flushed down the porcelain throne. I am blessed to say that my children are now in the routine of doing their school work as soon as they get up and have breakfast. I created a 'breakfast bar' in the kitchen with many healthy snacks and drinks that they can help themselves to. When they eat, they start their work in whatever order fancies them, and they take about four hours to finish everything. Even though most of my best laid out plans didn't happen, some of them stuck, and the children are thriving because of it.
Granted, before I was married, I was working 40-60 hours a week and had no choice but to work and send the kids off to that awful school. Now that I am married, my supportive husband has made it possible for me to homeschool the kids. On the side, I write for Hub pages and have started my art business selling resin beach art and oil, acrylic and pastel artwork. I also did some delivery services for Favor, Postmates and Joy Run for extra cash on days that my children would spend at their grandmother's home. Socialization is somewhat of an issue, for me and the children. That’s still something I'm working on, but I forgive myself because it is my first year and it's not fair to be hard on myself when the children are becoming independent and doing so well in homeschooling. I tried socializing the children through church, but the church children were unkind. I tried enrolling them in scout troops, but they are very exclusive and have a 'clique' mentality. I saw one of the older kids bullying other children by hitting them over the head with rolled up paper, and none of the adults in charge addressed it. So again, socialization is still something we are working on, but it's something that I (at the age of 32) struggle with myself. Sometimes I miss the long drive to work, listening to music and accomplishing high intensity career goals. Sometimes I miss chatting it up with co-workers about water cooler gossip. Sometimes I miss having time to myself. I do appreciate that I have been able to dabble in art more, now that I homeschool. I do appreciate that I can write more, instead of spending so many hours in a confined office space. I also enjoy the fact that I can focus on my Master's degree coursework for college more than I was able to in the past, while my children do their school work. I do appreciate that my children are with me, instead of at a school, especially with all the negative press focused on schools lately in regards to safety and efficacy.
The best part about homeschooling is being able to customize your child's learning experience, instead of throwing them into a 'one size fits all' machine. Different children learn in different ways, and they each have individual, unique needs, and interests. Homeschooling allowed me to focus on the areas that my children are excelling in, interested in and struggling with. Schools sometimes 'pad' scores by having the class redo failed assignments to earn a higher grade, or as our public school did, hide experimental, failed mid-term scores that showed a lack of progress in certain areas. Homeschooling allows me to take the children on whatever field trip feels good that week. Do they want to go to the science museum or the botanical gardens? My children are to the point where they wake up at any time they want, and it's usually between 7 AM to 9 PM at the latest. They are rested, relaxed and go at their own pace. I do not miss waking up at 5:30 in the morning just to have the kids fed, dressed and ready for class at 7:30. Those days are over for me. I am enjoying homeschooling, and my children are benefiting from it in countless ways. They are creative, inquisitive and always motivated to learn. I feel that homeschooling has inspired them to be themselves. Public schools forced them into a mold and dared to say that ADHD is the automatic diagnosis when one doesn't fit into societal standards. In homeschooling, we enjoy ourselves, we get up from the chair and be silly. We do homework on the couch, on the bed, or on the kitchen table. In homeschool, we can be ourselves, and it's a beautiful thing.
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© 2018 Charlotte Doyle