A year ago I was forced into an unknown situation. My daughter was completing her sophomore year of high school, and we got word her charter school was shutting down permanently. I didn’t know what to do. It had taken me forever to find a school after she graduated from middle school. My daughter has autism and it was imperative she was in the right environment. So i decided to homeschool her; catch up with the story here.
Today I know many moms are at this same crossroad with Covid-19. Do you send your child back to public school with everything that’s going on? Are schools able to provide a safe learning environment for all kids? What does school post coronavirus look like? What about our special needs children? There are so many questions but very few answers. Schools abruptly ended in March and I’m not so confident they should open back up in August.
I’m not exclusively homeschooling my children. I have two in public schools. So, I’m not biased. I just want to share my homeschool experience for those that are in the position I was a year ago…when homeschooling your child is your only option.
Before I begin, I just want to say that whatever you decide to do is your choice. In no way am I criticizing any mom that decides that sending their child to school in the fall is a bad decision. I am not pro-homeschool, nor am I pro-public school. I’m all for a child learning in the best environment that fits your family’s needs.
Initially, I was terrified. I felt like the school system let us down. I see all these ads about how our kids’ education is the top priority, but I didn’t feel that way. I thought SCS was okay with my daughter slipping through the cracks. The quality of her education was always a struggle…since kindergarten. We were blessed to attend an exceptional elementary school and middle school was also kind to us overall. Now we did have some major issues along the way, but overall I can truly say they did their best for my child.
Here I am. I’m a mother, I work full time, I have two kids with special needs, and a daughter with an active extracurricular calendar. I was navigating a daughter just entering the school system with Down syndrome and hearing loss. My girls were at three different schools, and I was always trying to “keep up”. The thought of homeschooling my oldest was overwhelming, to say the least.
But the one thing that I wanted for my daughter was for her to know that she may be different, but she certainly wasn’t less. I wanted her to learn at her pace and on her level. She needed to know she was smart and very capable. I wanted to take her talents and accent them in a way that SCS was unable to do all those years. I wanted her to know that she was more than her test scores.
When we first started, we had the same structure as a school. It didn’t dawn on me the level of flexibility I now had. I just relied on what knew. And I soon realized that wasn’t working. The people at HomeLife Academy were amazing. They’re our umbrella school. She was struggling (like in public school) with keeping up with her 11th-grade work. Our counselor sent over some suggestions and I contacted some of the moms in our Facebook homeschool group. When they say it takes a village, it’s true. I don’t see how we could’ve finished the year successfully without help. I ended up changing a few of her classes and our structure, and I saw a dramatic change in my daughter. From her attitude, her work ethic, and her level of responsibility.
She’s an extremely talented artist. We had art class, anime class, graphic design…all the classes that I couldn’t pay SCS to give her (according to the public schools, her test grades weren’t good enough to get these electives). She also had her core classes, and they challenged her, but not to the point where she was unable to succeed. We also had life skill classes. She learned about income taxes, payroll deductions, shopping with sales tax, banking 101, cooking, etc.
Homeschool provided us with options we couldn’t get in public school. Options that were a better fit for my child. Do I wish she was still in public school? Yes. I believe social interaction is very important. Homeschooling gives us a great community to connect with, but my schedule doesn’t allow us to participate often. But after our first year, I can now say this was the best decision for us. It hasn’t been easy (grading papers, creating curriculum, etc) but the improvement in her grades spoke volumes. We’re looking forward to next year.
In the current environment in our country, some may feel like homeschool is their only option. I just want to encourage you to do what’s necessary for your child. It may seem like a daunting task but you’re very capable. There’s a ton of information out there, so it’s easy to get overloaded. Join some groups, get on a couple of mailing lists, start researching your style of homeschool, and see what withdrawal requirements are in place for your district.