I had always been intrigued by homeschooling, even when I was younger. When Adrianna was getting to be school age, I looked into it. Back then there was not very many resources and/or people in our community who homeschooled. There were some, but not many. The year before she was to enter kindergarten, I had actually got the books I would need to homeschool her (not work books and that type of thing....but a very large binder that gave all the curriculum outcomes for each grade/year from the district), I had poured over it and was in the midst of trying to figure it all out. When it came time to register for public school, I went to an information session at the school she would be attending (if I choose to send her), and was very impressed with the principal and the kindergarten teacher at the time. I talked to them extensively and they calmed my fears about sending Adrianna to public school. At the time, we decided if I was comfortable with the principal and the teacher, we could send her. So, I registered her and in the fall got her ready. I was a little disappointed to learn that over the summer there had been changes, and the principal I had decided to put my trust in, had changed to another school (or went to the district, I honestly cannot remember....that was about 20 years ago....hahaha) well, I thought, what do I do now? The kindergarten teacher remained the same, and that is who she would be spending her days with....so we went with that.
Adrianna loved kindergarten, everything about it. We LOVED her teacher, she was so good to Adrianna and let her be herself. She already knew how to read when she arrived (equivalent to a grade 2-4 level), and her teacher really helped her 1) not feel like she was the odd man out, even though very few other children knew how to read at that point 2) she actually helped her, she would give her work/things to do that helped her learn more. (And I say this only because some of her other teachers through the years did not do either of those things...but more on those later). Adrianna was a very social kid, she loved all people and spending time with as many people as she could was her heaven on earth. She didn't have a lot of friends, in fact, she had just a few really good ones.
We continued to send her to public school for another grade and then another, always at the back of my mind, homeschooling was a valid option just not one that was needed. In grade one, her teacher was very different from her kindergarten teacher...in the fact that she was not ok giving Adrianna work that was on her academic level, she would only allow her to work at grade level....which was far below what she was capable of. And that was the beginning of the end, she started getting a little frustrated with the work that she was required to do....that continued for the next few years/teachers as well, not that they did not treat her well but they just did not help her advance beyond what she already knew (not in all subjects mind you, she did learn some new things outside of Language Arts) but we were not overly happy with the response we received from her teachers for the next few years. (And I am in no way saying they were not good teachers, I believe the system as a whole was flawed for kids like Adrianna, she was not "gifted" she just took to reading and language arts like a duck does to water, it came naturally for her....).
The other issue was bullying. I am not exactly sure when that started, but as the years went on, it got worse (or it just started bothering her more?!?!) until we finally decided to not bother sending her back after Christmas break in Grade 6. One of the reasons (I believe) she was bullied was because of who she chose to be friends with. You know the strange kid who no one else likes? The "hard-to-take" kids that people usually just push away....well those were her people. She was a bright, charismatic, lively, beautiful girl, she had such a huge heart, she did not want anyone to be alone or lonely. We tell our kids to love the hard to love, cause you may be the only one who does, and you know what, she did. We are so proud of her for that....but it did indeed create issues while being in public school. Because she associated herself with these children, she herself became a target for the bullies.
As the years went on, her grades got worse (this resulted as a combination of the teachers forcing her to wait till the other students caught up as well as those who were her friends), she would come home crying almost every day, not understanding why kids could be so cruel. Finally, we knew we had to do something, we just had to figure out what that was.
We went through our options. We could get her moved to another public school, but in the end that wasn't going to fix anything and in fact, might make things worse. Then we looked into private school, there were not many around (there still may not be many....I haven't look into it much since then) and the main one there was, (at the time, I understand they do things differently now) everyone sat in a cubical and did their work on their own, the teacher was there to help if needed, but it was a curriculum that required no "teaching" per say. The only upside to attending the school would be for the groups/activities, but in the end we decided that paying that kind of money (private school is not cheap), having to drive her (no bus system) and having her just doing work on her own was not the best option for us. So we went with option 3, we decided to homeschool. She could learn at her own pace, in the comfort of our home (and lots of trips to the library) and not have to deal with other children bullying her. She was excited as was I to begin this journey that I had been thinking about since long before she was even born.
I found some unit studies and after Christmas break we began. It went really well for a few weeks, then I got talking to some other homeschooling moms....their best advice was to let her de-school. Give her some time to get used to being home (she had been attending public school for many, many years)....and I listened to them. I must say that is the worst decision I had ever made in regards to homeschooling. We decided to stop what we were doing (even though it was going so well....) and give a little decompression time. I honestly never felt we got the groove that we had going back. She didn't need time to decompress (not saying no kids do...just saying it was not a good choice for Adrianna) she wanted to learn, was eager to learn and when we stopped the "fun" we were having with learning....it just never felt the same after that. The next school year we decided to go with a lot of homeschooling curriculum, we got most of it second hand at a homeschooling conference I attended....and while it worked, she did it, she learned....it just never felt "fun" like I thought it should.
As the years went on and more babies came, it got more difficult to homeschool the way I really wished I could. I think deep down in my heart (and I say deep but anyone that knows me would say it's not so deep....hahaha) that I am an unschooler. I believe kids can/should learn all the they need to know by just living life. I think learning should be fun and engaging and not just be a list of checkboxes to finish and tests to pass. I may be very ideological in my stance, and trust me I know it doesn't always work that way....but that is so what I wish for my children. I want them to have a love of learning, and a good comprehension of language arts (reading, writing) so that in the end, they can learn anything they want, just by reading and researching their own passions.
With Adrianna, we finished off her schooling with bought homeschool curriculum, and I do believe it served her well, but it was not my ideal homeschooling journey.
As the years went on and the new babies came, the way we homeschooled changed, every summer I would revisit how it would look for the fall....every fall I would revisit whether what we were doing would work with the current children I was homeschooling. Some years we did not much, other years I tried to overdo it with the forced learning. None of it seemed to work exactly how I was hoping it would work. My main objective was always teach the child to read, once they can do that, they can learn all they desire. (I still believe this....I just have some different opinions about when a child should learn to read but that seems like a whole separate blog post to me. lol) Basically, every single year (day?!?! lol) I have grande plans and then disappointment follows. Kids don't follow exactly as I assumed they would. My idea of "fun" is not necessarily their idea of fun. lol
This is just the beginning of our homeschooling journey, we have four more kids that have a story (although none of them have ever attended public school) and all four of them are very different from personalities, their strengths and weaknesses. I will end here for today....and write another blog post about homeschooling next time. I am not sure how many there will be....probably depends on how many people interact with this blog and show interest to hear more about our homeschooling journey. :)