I’ve had a love-hate relationship with homeschooling since the moment we pulled A from school. Hell, even before we pulled him. It’s a mental tug-o-war, a high-speed cha-cha, played out daily in my head. I love you I hate you get out never leave. At least the I love you never leave list seems to be winning.
- No more homework battles. This alone makes homeschooling worthwhile for our twice-exceptional son. After a full day holding his shit together in the classroom he just didn’t have anything left for homework. The speed at which traditional school moves (new class with a new teacher and new expectations every 40 minutes), plus the sensory overload (23-30 kids packed into a classroom with buzzing lights), plus always feeling like he wasn’t good enough (couldn’t write fast enough, needed more time to think deeply and make connections, the class repeating repeating repeating lessons he’d already learned)…was it any wonder he’d come home completely spent? Homework that should have taken no more than 30 minutes was taking nearly four hours, simply because he had nothing left to give. Wasn’t worth it, to him or to me.
- I’m no longer fighting the school’s battles for them. See above about homework. But I also got really tired of telling A, “Sweetie, put that away. You don’t have time to learn about that because you have homework sitting here.” That was anything from programming to exoplanets. Now I just weave interests into the curriculum. It doesn’t have to be a long-term study, either. A couple weeks ago he had the opportunity to visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nuclear Science program through Boy Scouts. There was pre-event homework. He whipped through that (98% dudes–impressed the grad students) and dove a little deeper into the life of Marie Curie. We got behind a few days in geography, but in a school setting that would have chucked the whole house of cards into the bin.
- It’s the ultimate in block scheduling. A works best having large chunks of time in which to work. He sat and read the entire semester’s worth of mythology in a couple days. O-kay then. I’ll assign a couple units of math, he’ll do a full chapter. He needs more time to think and dive deep. I need to remember this.
- My son has true peers for the first time. Granted, he only sees them once a week during co-op (and this breaks my heart more than he realizes), but with Skype and Google Hangouts and online games he’s able to talk with them. He’s building relationships, and as I sometimes think he flirts with Aspergers, that is so good to see. And these are good, good kids.
- Anything and everything is a lesson. We listen to science and tech podcasts in the car. More often than not a topic leads to deeper investigation.
- Pacing is all his. I try, oh how I try, to schedule out the year/month/week/day. As time goes on it’s less and less a plan and more and more a suggestion. My Type A no likey. So I do the planning but he picks the pace. Last year he did a semester of computer science mathematics and still managed to complete 6th grade math in four months. This year? Math is moving more slowly, but he’s whipping through mythology, logic, and genetics.
- Pants optional. I’ll raise a fuss if we’re going somewhere, or if I think pj bottoms are making his brain lazy and sluggish, but we have no dress code.
- I have the time and space to scaffold
the crappy exceptionalitythe executive function skills that need help. They are very very slowly getting marginally better. Dear god I wish they’d get better faster; I’m sick to death of constantly building scaffolding.
- Our relationship is so much better now. He is more affectionate, I’m no longer bitter about the education system
much. Now that we’re working together instead of as adversaries, we like each other more. Given how much we butt heads on a daily basis, this is a good thing.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. There’s still plenty I just flat-out despise about homeschooling.
- I rarely get a break. Even when we’re done for our school day, J comes home with homework and I’m off to the races again. On top of that, I’m teaching two afternoons a week and on top of that, I’m starting to see an educational repeat with J and homework/unfinished schoolwork coming home. It’s some unpleasant deja vu. Tom does a lot with the boys, but when they have a question or something to share, they come to me, even if I’m up to my ears in something and Tom is just standing there picking his nose.
- Constant @#$^&#$$%^* vigilance. I have to be ON all the time. I have to be at 100% every minute of the day in every area of my life or it all goes south. I have to be on top of A all day or he’s more likely than not to stare into space while picking his cuticles. I have to be on top of emails or they pile up in a threatening and overwhelming manner. I have to be on top of groceries or suddenly there is not a thing in the house to eat. And I have to stay on top of the housecleaning or the hairballs starting jousting with the spiders and the cheering from both sides is distracting.
- The soul sucking anxiety that I am screwing this up. Because I have to pick my battles, and even pick the battles of the battles I’m going to pick (it’s a multi-step vetting process of gathering up all possible battles, intense triage, weighing of soul vs battle vs time vs Return of Battle Investment vs preferred/actual outcome), I’m
convincedworried that important parts of his education are slipping through the cracks because I’m not up to the battle. Things like how to craft an essay, or how to manage a project from conception to completion, or how to properly research a topic. Jesus, for a kid known as The Tech Whisperer, just getting him to 1) read his emails, 2) delete the unnecessary crap, and 3) answer those requiring a coherent reply is like pulling teeth from a pissed off duck. Yes, I’m fully aware ducks don’t have teeth, it’s just that both are an exercise in futility with the great possibility of personal injury. Teaching him to craft a persuasive essay scares the crap out of me…then keeps me awake at night, stewing in tasty tasty stress hormones, because I don’t have the brass ovaries to force the issue.
- I have given up all hope of having a career. Jobs I’ll have, but a career with a steady income and benefits and a 401k is less a possibility with every passing year. In a society with almost no safety net, this terrifies the crap out of me.
Two years ago it all went downhill for A and school. Fall 2011 was three of the darkest months of my life, and I pray we never have days like those again. If you had told me then that I’d be (more or less) happily homeschooling The Most Complex Child on the Planet ™ I’m not sure I would have believed you. But I’m here now, and I don’t regret homeschooling him a bit.
Just don’t ask me about his brother. I’m not ready…yet.
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