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I never intended to school my children at home. Then my son started kindergarten.
It was the year from hell. My daughter had am preschool, my son had pm kindergarten. They both required me to drive them. From pick up time at the preschool to drop off time at the elementary school was 35 minutes. I needed to manage to feed them lunch in that amount of time, as well as drive back and forth’. We were a one car family then, so I was also driving my husband to and from the train, and sometimes all the way into the office. Oh, and did I mention, I had a newborn.
It was the year from hell.
I felt like I lived out of my car, but it was worth it because my daughter loved preschool and was doing so well there. And my son loved kindergarten and was making great advances. Then, the teacher’s maternity leave was over and instead of placing the returning teacher into 2nd grade where another teacher was going out on leave, they juggled everyone around disrupting 3 classes.
My son cried on his favorite teacher’s last day in kindergarten. He didn’t want to go to school, but I reassured him that it would be ok. And it was. That is, right until it wasn’t.
The Turning Point
The teacher that had returned from maternity leave missed school often because her son was sick. The substitute was only ever left a movie and a story to read. My son was coming home bored out of his mind because “I can watch tv at home.” They didn’t go out to play for recess. The once steady stream of communication between the school and home ran dry.
Then came the parent-teacher conference in February or March, where in front of my sweet 6-year old son, this teacher said, “He’s just no good at that.” That was writing. He wrote stories about Minecraft characters but because he could not spell in the winter of kindergarten he was “just no good at that.”
I left the conference livid and told my little boy that he was good at it and that he was only in kindergarten and didn’t have to spell everything correctly yet. Through his tears, “but teacher says I’m not good at it so I’m not doing it anymore.”
It took every ounce of strength I could muster to not pull him out of kindergarten right then and there. He begged me to still go to school, so he could see his friends. Kids he only saw for the 2 1/2 hours a day he was in that building and hasn’t seen since. I felt guilty since I had the baby at home and I know he desperately wanted to be at school and with other children, and so he stayed in kindergarten.
And there were more letters home about how my son, the little boy who was always so eager to learn, wasn’t good at things. According to his teacher, he was far below grade level in everything … funny, he was above grade level before she came back. He had been making progress. He had been learning. But it all came to a screeching halt the day of that conference in the middle of kindergarten.
Leaving Public School
My husband and I agreed that we would figure out what it would take to homeschool. To have our children complete school at home where they would never be told they were no good, but rather they would be encouraged to thrive and grow. To this day, I regret not pulling him out of school immediately following that first parent-teacher conference. I have spent countless hours undoing all of the negativity that woman did in a single statement. I have spent hours upon hours trying to build my son back up. Because that’s what a good teacher does … that’s what a parent does.
But what would life be like for us as homeschoolers? I had always taught middle school, nothing younger than 5th grade. Would I be able to handle teaching kindergarten and first grade? Would I be able to wear the teacher hat while being the mama too?
Read Part 2 of our #JourneytoHomeschool – First Came Cyber School