To home school or not to home school
This is the first time I'm writing in the Home Edders community, so I might as well introduce myself first rather than start sharing our family's homeschooling experience.
A couple of years ago, when our daughter did not even reach toddler age yet, we talked about me home schooling her many times as we both believe through experience (in different ways) that there are many ways to help a child grow up in a decent manner and learn about life without having to sit in the school bench all day and read from a book or having to be quiet and listen to the teacher.
I would like to share with you the thoughts that have slipped my mind before deciding that home school may be the right decision for us. I have to admit, that it was not the easiest decision and experience because of the pandemic situation. I believe though, that now is the right time to take take action on this idea rather than only talking about it.
How I experienced regular school
I will get to my personal experience with regular schools first because this has formed me partially into the person I was for a long time, and also made me feel quite of a rebel against the system. I want to do better for my daughter because of how I experienced regular school.
When we had a test at the lower school to see which direction I'd have to follow after that school (middle school), I scored extremely high. In fact, there was only 1 other child with a higher score than me, and I'm quite sure he ended up being a professor.. Good for him!
I managed to follow the lessons quite well until then, but after this year with the test 2 years of mixed levels education followed to find the level suited for each student and there were 3 options. I was expected to follow the highest after these 2 years. And then I lost my interest, I was still a normal student without any distractions outside of school, but I got bored. And I got bored A LOT. I had serious trouble listening to a boring teacher for a full hour and often started yawning after 5 minutes already, you might know this from own experience: once you start with that, it gets worse and worse.
The first year was still OK looking at my grades, and I think both my mother and the teachers had high hopes for me. I didn't and started to show up when I felt like it only. Which was at the lessons that I found interesting like art and drawing classes. I started to resent the French language because my teacher was horrible, and I decided that there was no way I was going to follow French after the second year. I was determined and made that happen.
Not the best approach
I didn't have much guidance from my mother, I mean, she tried to help me if I'd ask which I rarely did because we didn't have a great connection and she probably was happy I didn't ask help. But this also meant that she never saw it coming when the mentor explained to her at the end of the 2nd year that I was never going to pull up my grades to get to one of the 2higher education levels.
The lower one was considered the one where those without ambition ended up, or those that didn't do much at school or were never there. I was a totally different personality than the average person in my class the 3rd and 4rd year, while I actually did (partially) the same behavior-wise. I didn't show up much, which made some of the less intelligent classmates very jealous, especially when I nailed graduation without much effort (and the highest level of that level with an extra class) while they were stuck another year.
So my wish came true, I never had French after year 2 but was it the best approach? Absolutely not! Do I believe that a little more interest from my mother and possibly some chat about my goals for the future would have possibly helped me decide to have another approach? Yes, absolutely!
At the time I never realized these things, but years later, I saw things from a distance and decided this may have contributed to the fact that I never really found my place in schools or jobs. I just wanted to get out of school asap and earn money. The future? We'll see about that when I'm grown up!
Affinity at the very least
I can't know for sure if I'd have found a real passion for something to follow a certain education if I had some more guidance, as some people just need some more time for that. I believe I'm one of those people. Reading from a book won't gain my full attention usually if you compare it to actively experiencing something. I've learned that the best way I learn is by doing it, even without any knowledge, just put me in the field, give me instructions and soon I'll be good at it. Or I discover that I have no passion or affinity with something and move on to something else. In my life, affinity is the very least I need to have to be successful at something, but even better if this affinity turns into passion! Then I'm your girl 200%!
In my experience, this is not taught in regular schools. I also feel that they need to place everyone in a certain box, while I never felt I belonged in one box alone. I'm super diverse as a person and I can go with the flow very well, but it has been something that I had to learn myself, in life, as it went against all the things we've learned in school or from growing up. Life is so much more than labeling someone and connect that label with expectations of the average person with that label, I don't want that for my daughter!
Not the average child
We're still not sure what exactly is different about her, and we may never find out exactly either. Which is now fine as she can probably function in society fine the way things are going now. She was very sensitive, cried a lot when she was a baby, and honestly, she's still over sensitive and her go to is often crying as well. But with this, we had worries about what we saw and about the patterns that we didn't seem to be able to break while trying every approach possible. We sat down endless hours discussing what we'd try next time, determined to break these negative patterns.
In the end, the conclusion was, we were able to make it easier, and had to agree that she's different but we'd probably not find out where the certain behavior came from. The only thing left (which made me super scared to find out something was wrong) was going to the neurologist. I often doubted if she's autistic or something similar to autism as I know the spectrum has many labels. Although I never would want my child to get a label, we were worried if she had pain in her head as well, and wanted to rule this out the very least.
We also hoped that with the school age that arrived, she'd become more social as she's an only child and didn't have much interaction with other kids yet until then. We noticed improvement regarding the social stuff but honestly, by now the lack of social skills could be partially thanks to the pandemic (no kindergarten) as well so lines have been fading a bit. What's because of A, and what can be due to situation B, or maybe a mix of both even.
Neurologist and brain scan
After a very long wait to see the neurologist during the first wave last year, the neurologist understood the worries and wanted to go ahead with my request to at least rule out things that caused her pain and she ordered a brain scan. This was done during the summer and we were so happy to hear the results, the scan came out clear and that was a huge burden lifted from our shoulders! At that time, we decided to focus on the problems ourselves for a while again, as there seemed to be no medical issue causing the behavior. We hoped kindergarten would contribute on the social part. Little did we know that this pandemic situation would cause another school year to be "ruined" for the kids. My view on what would be the best education for our daughter (and our family) started to change.
After many years of wanting to get this certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), the pandemic (first wave) actually made me step up and get back into the books to study this course. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and it was very clear that my current age was not making it as easy to study as when I was a teenager and could easily grab my head around all the study material. BUT I managed to get through it, even with fabulous (unexpected) results (where I lost faith in myself, I had proven myself wrong).
I tried to finish the course during the first wave, but I took a break (due to frustration) and finished this it when the second wave arrived. Either way, I did it, and I was now certified to teach English as a foreign language.
I gained a lot of knowledge during this journey towards my certificate, not only about teaching English! I also learned that there is a world of resources to be found online where other teachers share their lessons and experiences as well as props to make teaching more fun. I never realized this until I started this course. It made me confident that if I was to decide to start homeschooling after all, I would not have to feel insecure because this is actually a very huge community of home-schoolers that are more than happy to share their experience and tips.
It's probably around this time that I joined this community, for future purposes. It just took a bit longer, haha.
Being at home constantly was difficult at times
The biggest reason I let the homeschooling idea slide for a while was honestly (again) the pandemic. When the first wave was there, we were stuck in a very tiny apartment with only 1 air conditioned room during a few hot months. There was no room to escape from each other or take a breather, plus our apartment wasn't the best place to live either due to a lot of construction noise. It drove me mad even without being at home all together.
By the time the first wave ended, I was dying for September to arrive so boyfriend could go back to the office, and daughter to (a new and better) kindergarten, while I had the home back as my domain and office. Without having to deal with distractions and sounds constantly. I like my quiet hours to focus, you see. It almost felt like this was going to be the so missed holiday after spending months inside.
We did agree that our daughter needed an upgrade in kindergarten she'd attend so we picked one near the office of my boyfriend in a much better neighborhood. This one made more sense, children outside most of the times, huge playground attached to it compared to the one she attended and was mostly inside.
We all know what happened then, the second wave arrived in a few countries, followed by the rest of the world. The first period went smooth, no Covid cases at the school, and the hygiene there was much better than at the previous kindergarten, so we could manage for a while. Until we couldn't anymore. At some point we had to ask permission to keep her home because the offices closed and neither of us could spend 3 hours a day bringing her and picking her up because of the only option left: the bus with detour thanks to construction work (until 2023 pff).
My first goal was to get a car so that she could be back in school once we bought one. Until we had one and 2 days after that moment they announced that the schools would close. So another few months were added to the no kindergarten period (and counting). I realized that this could never be good for all these children at home if the parents weren't spending enough time to teach them things. I knew that I had to step up immediately and so I did.
I was (and sometimes still am) overwhelmed
Because I know these children are missing so much, but I'm not an official teacher and have no clue what the best approach is to start catching up. So often I'd dwell on the internet finding resources, making me super exited and then ending up being distracted and in the end not sure what was suitable to start with. But then I remembered the red thread in my life regarding learning things: JUST START and you'll find your way!
I've noticed how much she loves learning stuff and actually listens to what I'm explaining and that alone makes me feel confident to keep going. On top of that I noticed that she's incredibly eager to learn artsy things, and has talent. I think this gift is seriously undervalued at regular schools and I wish that she keeps developing this part of her. Currently she's still home and doesn't have to go back to school, but I reckon that there may be a remaining period of this school year where I will send her back there, once the cases are finally dropping low enough. But we'll see, it depends a bit on how things evolve and if I won't be breaking laws when I keep her home.
Checking the law and asking for more info about homeschooling for next year
I know that officially it's not allowed to home school anymore, at least, that's what I read a few years ago that this new law would be applying the next year. BUT there are more ways leading to Rome, and as an expat, I'm considering finding out if I can apply for the world school in my native language instead of sending her back to the local school again next year. I have to find out if that's allowed but as the official age for mandatory school is 6 (which she'll be next year) I reckon that this is certainly optional. If I get the green light to do so, I will make sure that she gets enough time with children of her age by doing fun classes like dancing or horse back riding etc.
This is all suddenly possible now we have a car, which wasn't the case last year. It has enlightened our world in many ways and I intend to make the most out of it while we still live here. Because after staying put for the time being due to the pandemic, we have now decided that this is not for us, and we want to move back to where some friends live and therefore the public school here also makes less sense. The local language will be totally useless once we cross the border, so I'd rather educate our daughter in our native language and then add Spanish to the curriculum instead of her learning this language that I will never understand myself.
The pieces of the puzzle are finally falling together
I know it has been quite the long read, and I salute you for making it until the end. I thought it would be nice to share the doubts and reasons behind homeschooling with the community so you know it's not one that has been taking overnight. I've already found many creative ways to teach children at home browsing through the community and I'm very happy to connect with all of you as I think you all deserve a medal for making the decision to home school and be confident to choose your own path, even if society may call you an outcast for doing so. I wish I felt confident enough earlier, but it is what it is. Now it's time to find the best way to proceed our homeschooling journey.
Thank you for stopping by, and I'm excited to connect with new people that I haven't met yet on the platform <3