Thursday, October 24, 2013

The (long overdue) Homeschooling Post

Athena went to public school this fall. She wanted to try it out and she felt like she was ready. I always told her that when she wanted to give it a go we would let her. She had no fear and was very excited. She liked the school work. She liked joining the school choir. She loved learning to play the recorder. It wasn't the school work she didn't like. What she didn't like was the meanness of some of the girls. The boys? They were great but she says it seems that the girls and boys can't play together at this school. Too bad.

Last week Athena pushed someone. And I got the phone call from the teacher. She suggests counselling so she can "fit in with the other kids." I was told that the girls wanted to play with her and she didn't want to play so Athena struck out in anger. I had a hard time believing this. When Athena came home she told me that they did ask her to play and she did push a girl. But... this was the one and only time they asked her to play. They drew a circle in the sand on the school ground. All five girls were allowed in and she was to stay outside the perimeter and if she would try to play in there with them they would push her out. Fun game. Wouldn't you want to play that? So after Athena got tired of this game she walked away to play by herself, as she does every single day. The girls came after her and tried to get her to come back. They called her all kinds of names and she pushed a girl away. She did. And now she needs counselling. (I am not one of those parents that thinks her child can do no wrong. She may need counselling but not for that!)

Things like this have been going on the entire time. She asked me if she was weird because all the girls say she is. She told me she gets a lump in her throat, and she doesn't know why, but it always means that tears fill her eyes. She asked if she could be homeschooled again. And we said yes.

Some people don't agree. "Let her find her own way." "She needs to find out all people aren't nice." "She needs to learn to deal with conflict."  On and on and on.  And yes she does need to learn all of those things. But I ask you, as an adult, right now, would you be able to bear up in your life if these things happened to you each and every day? Now I ask again, should a little child, who has sensory issues, who is most probably on the spectrum, who is a little different than most kids, should she have to deal with this day in and day out? I didn't think so.

I consulted my daughters, my mother and some special friends (thank you, you know who you are) and after discussing it with Athena and Paul, we are bringing her back home. Her last day at public school is tomorrow.

We are bringing her home so she can feel safe and secure.
We are bringing her home so she can learn in a quiet and uninterrupted space.
We are brining her home where people "get her."
We are bringing her home because we can offer an alternative to public school where not everyone fits in and not everyone thrives.
We are bringing her home where we can offer her the best we can.
Will it be all she needs? No
Will we be able to offer her everything? No.
Will she have some gaps? Probably.
Would public school give her everything? All she needs? Hell, no!

PS It should be noted that she made it 8 weeks without using the public bathrooms. She can't handle that.
PSS She is so glad that she can finally put a comma after the number in the thousands place without getting a big red X on her paper.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

With Thanks

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year. It happens to coincide with my favorite month. October. This year was no exception. All of my girls and their families came out to the farm to be with us. It was wonderful. We were only missing Eden, my granddaughter, who was visiting with her other grandparents. Oh well, can't win them all. She was missed. A lot. But she will be with us at Christmas so that is something to look forward to.

There were walks in the woods, playing with dogs, eating, eating and more eating. Good company, good food. Several babies and altogether too much Minecraft on the Ipods for the older girls. (seems they found a way to get into each others worlds.

These are the days that I love the most. Easy, comfortable conversations and lots of hugs and hand holding. Catching up and coming together. Supporting each other in a way that only families can. It was a wonderful weekend. We have much to be thankful for.

Monday, October 7, 2013

In the Wind

As the winds of autumn bring the change in the weather, I find an easy parallel with my life situation this fall. I finally admitted today to my daughter exactly how difficult this has been for me. By this I mean the transition back to school for Athena. It actually felt good to admit it. Kind of like I imagine the first day of a 12 Step program to be. There, I've said it. I don't like change.

Now that I have said it out loud I can move on. Part of me is giddy with excitement about the possibilities. The other part looks at the school books and laments what could have been. Athena is doing well in school (emotionally, not sure about academically yet). I have told you this already. I am genuinely happy for her. I am. And with each passing week the thought of the possibility we will home school again seems less and less likely. I am finally now coming to terms with that. After all, most parents send their kids to public school and they turn out just fine. I have struggled with the guilt of doing just that. Guilt. My inner voice was saying "She will just get an average education. You could have given her an extraordinary one. She is hardly ever home. Look how hard it is for her to get up and get going in the morning. She could sleep longer if she were at home. You hardly ever see her. How can you possibly teach her all the life skills she needs to know in a few hours on the weekend? Look at all the germs!! A whole school full of them..." And on and on and on.

But now that voice is quieting down. It is saying other things. Things like: "Look at the smile on her face when she tells you that a boy said he likes her. Look how excited she gets when she talks about choir and recess and The Terry Fox Run. Look how she gets to be a big buddy and listen to a little kid read aloud to her. Listen as she tells you the new skills you never could have taught her. Playing the recorder, team sports, countless art projects." She is doing things that simply cannot be done in a one child home school and that makes me very happy indeed. She is growing up in so many ways in such a short period of time. We learned at home for 4 years. We did what needed to be done. But as my wise daughter said, "You intuitively knew that it was time." And it is. It is time. Time to let go a little bit. Time to let her spread her wings and fly. My sweet little fledgling.

And so I am releasing the guilt. Today. Letting it go. I will look forward and live in the present and be here now. I will listen, with joy, as she tells me the great stuff that goes on. I will hold her close and brush away her tears as she tells me the not so good. I will remind myself of my school days, so many years ago and remember just how much I really did love going to school, bad days and all.
Thank you for listening to all of this blabber and allowing me to "work it all out" here on my blog.
And now I am finished with this subject. It was getting a bit repetitive. :) The end.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pensive October

A month has passed by since I found myself "unemployed" so to speak. That is to say, I lost my day job of educating my little one. It has gone by rather quickly and I have little I feel I have accomplished in terms of projects and such.

It is odd to have the days alone in the house. The flurry of morning activity has not been my favorite part. It is too rushed, and mornings seem to come too quickly, despite my early bed time. I wake, make breakfast for Paul and Athena, get Athena's lunch made and packed up and have a cup of coffee or two while doing so. I tell Athena to hurry up about twenty times and still I have to tell her yet again. We gather her backpack and summon the dogs and walk down to the bus. At 8am I am back in the house, alone.

I seemed lost at first, not quite knowing what to do. I had a big expanse of time in front of me and I didn't know how I was to spend it. At first I felt sad about Athena going to school. Then worried. Then I thought it was just until the end of December. And now, after a month, I think it may be working out for her. She has found a friend!! She joined choir. She is learning to pay more attention in class so as not to get much homework. She is looking forward to school events and field trips too. So this may not be a temporary stint after all.

And now, with a different mindset, I must move forward. October has always been my favorite month. Crisp, cool mornings and warm, brilliant afternoons. The beauty of autumn is not lost on me. The colors of the leaves, the sounds of the geese, gleaning wheat from the freshly harvested fields, the crunch of leaves underfoot and the smell,... oh the smell of the moist autumn woods. All of those things touch me like no other month can.

I am now wondering what this season of my life has to teach me. I have spent more time in these past few weeks just thinking, just being, than I ever have before. There are no school plans to make, no classes to teach, no spelling words to correct. I can fill my days how I choose.

I ordered a whole lot of wool from Knit picks. I have some big knitting plans in my future. I would like to move beyond the basic sweater, hats, slippers. Will I be able to teach myself? Will I be able to sit still long enough to complete a project?

I have put more books on hold than ever before. Not school books but books for myself to read. Fiction even (gasp). Whether I will actually read fiction remains to be seen. I put movies on hold too. (I know, gasp again). The best Drama movies of 2012. Whether I watch them remains to be seen as well.

I have an e-course I would like to finally do. I purchased it and printed it out and saved all of the links way back before I started schooling Athena at home 4 years ago. Never did find the time to get into that. And yoga, sweet yoga. I want to make my practice more regular than it has been this past year.

And of course I would like to make this piece of earth into a viable homestead so there will be a lot of reading, learning and planning for things like organic gardening, composting, chickens, goats and a duck or two. Plus there are the dogs. They could use some training beyond the sit, stay, come.

I want to learn too. I want to walk alone in the woods (but bring the dogs as it is almost time for the rut and the bears need to fatten up too), I want to sit and observe the world around me. The chipmunks, the birds, the deer, the sky. I really need to identify all those trees we have. It bothers me not knowing what they are. I have a list of interests a mile long and I will now be able to pursue them.

There is much that has to be done and much that I want to do but I don't want to rush into anything. I want to be fully present, fully engaged and fully aware of this second half of my life. It is a beautiful thing to have the freedom to do so and am very grateful for a husband who can make it happen.