I didn’t come to the decision to homeschool lightly. In fact, it took me far longer than many to actually step forward and commit to the decision. In many ways, I think it took far too long. My eldest, Danielle, was a teenager before I finally decided enough was enough and took back control of something I should have had a say in long before.
For many, homeschool is not an easy choice or one they first arrive at. It is found at the end of a dark road, after so much heartache, resentment and stress.
If you have missed a previous entry on Why I Chose Homeschooling, click here for a complete list of entries.
Early Feelings of Helplessness
“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis
My eldest, Danielle, was born when I was just eighteen years old.
There was no money for private school. There was no money for anything – not clothing, not food, nothing.
So when the time came for her to go to school, off she went to public school. By that time I was a single mom, my first marriage a messy ending thing, and I struggled to give her the basics.
Looking back now I still can’t imagine any other way of doing things. There was no money for me to stay at home and homeschool, even if I had heard of such a thing at the time, which I had not.
The feelings of helplessness were mixed in with worries about how to make ends meet, pay bills, and clothe and feed my child and myself. But how I worried about her!
When she had trouble with some boys bullying her in first grade and she bit them – she was the one in trouble. No matter how good the schools were touted, the same basic problems came into play – bullies and boring/challenging schoolwork. For some of the work it was too easy and she was bored in the classes. In other classes, she was too challenged and fell behind.
I remember feeling that “something is not quite right” feeling about every school she stepped into – with the exception of the tour we took of Notre Dame de Sion, here in Kansas City, an elite private school that cost far more money than I made in a year at the time.
In retrospect, I think that my own private schooling, combined with my dad’s eclectic parenting, set into motion the questions that have guided my steps ever since. These questions, or should I say the questioning mind, pushed me to examine what was normal and expected, and question why it was normal and expected.
In each of the public schools (with the exception of Danielle’s K-2 teacher) I felt talked down to or considered inferior or extraneous by teachers and administrators alike.
There were years of helplessness, anger, and despair. In many ways I felt like I was sending my daughter into enemy territory, where she was subjected to humiliation and intimidation. At best she was ignored, at worst, well, at worst she was put in the spotlight and dissected.
Those years were hard for many reasons – poverty and single motherhood notwithstanding – I would not learn of homeschooling until Danielle was almost nine years old, when we moved from California to Missouri in 1997.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s Part 3 of Why I Chose Homeschooling.