Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
— Helen Keller
Deciding to Homeschool
Let me start by saying I shouldn’t be here right now. No, currently, I should be at a small Massachusetts liberal arts college teaching creative writing and living with a chocolate Labrador named Scout who enjoys my shoes more than I do.
But alas, life turned a curve and here I am. Thirty-three, mother of one, sitting at the computer in my dining room the morning after two full days of homeschooling my daughter this week.
The old me would have been much more apt to believe I’d eventually sprout horns rather than willingly educate a small human being.
It’s not that I didn’t think I was capable. It was more that homeschooling wasn’t my passion, and if I’m to be really honest, I didn’t even consider it an option. Not that I didn’t think it was a viable alternative to traditional schooling. It was more that, frankly, I had forgotten the possibility even existed.
So how did I get here? Well, like any parent, it came down to doing what was best for my daughter.
1. My Daughter Has ADHD
My daughter is like a butterfly…that’s been given too much Dr. Pepper. She’s been this way since she was very small, and even though I’ve admired her incredible bouts of energy, I’ve also had my heart broken with her diagnosis, namely the times she’s cried because “my body won’t stop moving.”
That’s a tough one in any setting, but being required to sit still and be quiet for long portions of her day is a hard feat for somebody who’s body won’t listen to their brain. Her school was VERY accommodating to her condition which we appreciated, but I think she started to feel like this was just how it was, and she’d never move been beyond being the girl with ADHD. It’s almost as if she fully believed the label and instead of being willing to move forward and try harder in her subjects, she just sort of became complacent.
Considering this child talked at six months and could tell you directions to her grandparents house just three months later, I knew great things were expected of her. And I wanted to show her how to get there one-on-one.
2. My Daughter Needs Me
Well, naturally, right? But it went beyond seeing her before school and before bed when we were both cranky and horribly exhausted. I could tell that her attitude was tailored around the fact that I worked A LOT and wasn’t the most patient person after ten hours at the office. Weekends were no better because how are you to communicate with a person after spending all week snarling your nose at them?
I realized my daughter needed me. She has such a depth of love about her, and as much as she wanted to share her love with me, I was not always there to receive it. I realized this was a recipe for eventual disaster because as she got older, if she wasn’t connecting with me, who or what would she connect with? I didn’t want to keep up our usual arrangement long enough to find out.
3. My Daughter Needs to Socialize
I know. You’re thinking traditional schooling is THE mecca for socialization and homeschooling definitely doesn’t fit that bill.
But that’s where I’m going to have to politely disagree.
Sure, my daughter made friends in public school. But she was also exposed to a ton of things a nine-year-old shouldn’t be exposed to without a loving parent to walk her through them step-by-step. Not only that, but Ava tends to linger on the immature side because of her ADHD which sometimes made her a target for bullying. And because she didn’t really know how to process this treatment, she’d get defensive and give it right back to the person bullying her. So yeah, recipe for major disaster.
Recently, we’ve joined a homeschooling co-op which gives Ava access to a wide variety of kids who learn, love, and are tackling life just like she is. And because there are parents all around, these kids can dive into the social scene with hands to comfortably guide them instead of being thrown to the wolves and expected to make the best of it.
It’s crazy to see what a difference this decision has made in her life and mine. It’s not the right path for everyone, but it is the right one for this mother and daughter duo keen on navigating life together.