I had PLANS.
When Mr. Wonderful and I had two little toddlers, we moved to an area with a public school system that did not meet our standards for our children’s education.
We promptly decided to homeschool. I read a lot of books and an untold amount of homeschooling blogs online, and made my outline.
The main thing was that we were going to be one of those amazing families that traveled around the world.
I didn’t want to do everything twice, so we would wait until our youngest child turned five. Our children would all be in a good age bracket to experience everything that would be on offer, and they’d all remember it!
No complaining of, “I went there as a baby and I don’t remember it, so it doesn’t count.”
We’d take short trips through the baby phase and wouldn’t be locked into any scheduling restrictions – we could travel whenever we wanted.
When Youngest turned five, we’d really turn it up. There would be multi-week trips around the US and Canada, and we’d even look at selling our house to travel full-time overseas.
I fully bought into the mindset that the world and its people are better than reading any textbook while stuck inside the four walls of a classroom.
We added three more children to those two toddlers and made a cross-country move. We landed in a very high-ranked school district in our new state but continued homeschooling because … PLANS.
While homeschooling may be associated with simple living, our experience with it has not for a single minute been easy.
It turns out that both Child 1 and Child 2 have special needs of the ADHD and autism variety that complicated things a lot.
Homeschooling had its bright and shiny moments with short road trips that we called “field trips” to everywhere we could think of. We’ve visited science museums and historical sites in almost every state east of the Mississippi River.
We’ve read literally thousands of library books. (I counted.) We’ve taken acting classes and performed in community theater productions.
But the day-to-day was an excruciating grind.
My structure-hungry children could never settle into a consistent routine because homeschooling activities aren’t daily. They’re weekly.
Co-op on Monday, theater on Tuesday, park day on Wednesday, etc. The Battle of Math was an on-and-off thing for years.
It eventually wore all of us out.
On August 30, 2017, three out of five children started public school. The youngest two have been registered to start first grade and Kindergarten in the upcoming fall.
Youngest Child turned five a couple of weeks ago. Nine years of waiting for that milestone birthday, all the wishful thinking and covetous following-along of world-schooling blogs, all of my PLANS…gone.
It has become very clear that I will never get to live in an RV and travel full time. My family – my husband and my five children, the people I have chosen to spend my life with – would not at all function well in that type of living situation. They don’t even vacation well for more than about ten days.
They need the stability of a home that doesn’t move or change, and a consistent every-single-day schedule. My husband’s job provides excellent insurance that covers all of the needed therapy, and we can’t leave that either. The kids need their therapist appointments.
They now get on the morning bus at the same time every day. They are in structured classrooms with amazing teachers. They have lunch every day at the same time. I pick them up in the afternoon at the same time.
Our children were doing well before, but now they are thriving.
We haven’t entirely ruled out homeschooling as an option for the future, but it’s highly unlikely that Child 1 and 2 will ever be pulled back out of public school.
I did then what was best for my children with homeschooling. I am doing now what is best for my children with public schooling. Many people, including their therapists, have assured me of this.
But there’s still an element of failure and loss.
Failure for never successfully establishing a comfortable routine and structure for my children to function within while learning outside the public school structure.
Failure for not being able to teach them myself, like so many other parents of special needs seem to be able to do.
Failure because I’m so darned tired, and relieved to not be homeschooling anymore!
And the loss of my full-time travel dreams, that I’ve fantasized over since I was about ten years old.
There is a grieving process when making a wholesale transition from one entire lifestyle to another very different lifestyle.
I ate, drank and breathed homeschooling for so long that I’m at a new starting point for myself. Kids are at school. Husband is at work. I have no paid employment or even volunteering positions.
I am rebuilding slowly. Now, I’m learning how to make quilts.
Trina Caudle and her family live in Connecticut. Instead of obsessively researching homeschooling methods and curriculum options, she is learning how to quilt and shares a blog with her sister to trade sewing and recipe notes: Operation Domestic Goddess.