While my three eldest children were struggling as I have previously described we were also shuttling our outgoing 5 year old to preschool, caring for a precocious baby and expecting our unexpected (but so much wanted) 6th baby. Did I mention that this was all happening in the first 4 months of moving to a new state and across the country from our family and most friends?
The stress of trying to keep everyone on track was taking a major toll on our household. Our mornings started with arguments over assignments being returned to school and strict reminders about appropriate classroom behavior. I spent my days sending and receiving emails from the kids teachers, trying to catch various school staff on the phone, attending meetings or finding ways to volunteer in the classroom so that I could try and get a handle on any of the kids drastically different situations. When the children returned home at the end of day the battle began in earnest. The first hurdle was making sure any work that needed to be done got home. If it didn't there wasn't much I could do because the school made it clear they couldn't check with my kids to make sure it did, though at the same time it was made clear that if I supported them I would provide consequences if the didn't. In L's case things had progressed so far that he had two sets of all of his books, one at school and one at home. Incidentally, that didn't help at all. IF the tools necessary to complete an assignment made it home we began the battle of getting work done. Work that should have taken little time took hours at my house because of my children's attention deficits and the emotional turmoil attached to school, especially in Z's case. Homework disrupted our family meals, pushed back bedtime and led to daily arguments.
I fully admit that many nights I absolutely dropped the ball. Fighting that hard for 3 kids and making everyone does everything every day just isn't possible. The kids intuitively knew that. I'm fairly certain that each day someone pulled one over on me with a creative story or excuse. The truth is after a while was just tired. Tired of the fight with them, tired of the lies, tired of the judgment from teachers all while still trying to live a normal life.
One day when our family was brand new to Colorado I had gone for a walk and met a neighbor. This woman, who would become a good friend, was outside of her home working on projects when I happened to be out walking. I'm normally very chatty but on this afternoon I was incredibly lonely. My new friend was gracious enough to take time out of her day to talk to me, not even knowing how much I needed it. We began talking about pets but the conversation quickly turned to our families. She told me about home schooling her children and a group they belonged to. She was so passionate about what she was doing, her children were clearly thriving and she sounded truly satisfied with that choice. I left her house with my head swimming with 'What if's' and 'I wish I could' but I had never truly considered that it was a possibility for us until I was backed into a corner.
Amazingly the struggles that L and A were having had been accepted as normal for me. Even the lack of support and the ridiculous expectations that the school held for me, the parent, didn't give me pause to consider that it was not acceptable. But the extreme bullying, at the hands of adults no less, that Z was experiencing was more than I could take. The mama bear in me was ready to do anything and everything to protect him. When I pulled Z from school and STILL couldn't get anyone to work with me or to help him I began to think seriously about the conversation I had with my neighbor months before.
Still I worried about what other people would think, especially my mother who was a dedicated public school teacher. I worried I couldn't do it, that even with a teaching degree from a teaching college I wouldn't be able to instruct my own children. It was my mother who first brought up the subject and asked if I had considered it. My husband supported it fully. In fact friends and family all expressed great confidence in my ability to teach Z at home. I began to think I could do it, and I was already staying at home with our littlest kids so no income would be lost.
The thoughts of homeschooling began with Z in mind, but it was no stretch to include L and A once I was committed to doing it. They were all very enthusiastic about homeschooling. In a relatively short amount of time we invested in an old used table that we set up in the basement and some basic supplies from the local education store. I sent a letter of intent to our local district, spoke to the administrators at the children's schools and I submitted my application to join a co-op of other home school families. After years of struggle in the public schools we had made a huge leap into a new and exciting type of education.