Pin It At first, he wasn’t sure. All three of them would be home now, what if I can’t keep up with it all? Her subjects are getting more complicated, am I sure I can teach them? Shouldn’t she be learning to come out of this trouble on her own, without us coming to the rescue? What if she doesn’t listen to me? What if the house ends up being a mess? What if I can’t do all of the things with Matthew that I want to anymore?
He had a lot of valid reasons. Along with… you know, others. (I don’t know, it just sounds weird!) But I knew I couldn’t do this without his full support. I listened open-mindedly to everything he had to say, ready and armed with all of my reasons. And night by night we laid in bed, picking it apart, talking about her future.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a ton of calls and e-mails and blog comments and more calls from people who just wanted me to know that they thought it was a good idea too. After a few days of falling asleep every night to long, impassioned conversations about whether or not to get started with this and why, Spencer came around. He said he was still skeptical, but that he could see it really meant a lot to me, (and he couldn't see how I could do much worse than the school already was) so we could try it and he would back me up.
Mary was coming around too. She and I stopped saying “if we home school” and started saying “when.” I picked a complete curriculum. We talked about the classes and clubs she’d like to get involved in to supplement her elective education, things like phys ed, music and art. Yesterday, she even asked if we could get started with some of the core subjects over the summer.
I found another home schooling family and reached out. I found out about an enormous home schooling network of kids Mary’s age in Delaware with parents who share my concerns and want to answer my questions. (It has an archery club, a 4-H division, an ice-skating and roller skating club, a bowling club, a Christian pre-teen group that schedules regular activities together, and a choir. There’s a geography fair, a math Olympiad, optional group exams, spelling bees and even a field day!) I met with the 6th grade councilor at her school to gather information on getting her registered. I asked a few of her teachers for personal input, based on what they know about the way Mary learns. I spoke with teacher friends and discussed it with the extended family. Her school assured us that we had a cushion; even in the worst case scenario, if it doesn’t work out for us at all, Mary could always come back. Today, I spoke with the director of home schooling in Delaware at the Department of Education, a great guy. I mail in a couple of forms, and the deed is done.
“You’ll do great,” they all said. “This is the right decision.”
After the last post I wrote, when Mary was suspended and I swore that that was the last straw - the school called again. Her second day back, Mary was suspended off of the bus for the rest of the school year. Mind you, that was only the rest of the week, but Spencer and I realized that if I had been working this year, all of the trouble she’s gotten into would have caused me to lose my job.
In the middle of our conference with the school councilor, Mary’s math teacher walked in to grab some paperwork from the room. Aligning her stack of papers and tapping them on the desk, she asked where Mary was that day, when she was supposed to be in her class. Apparently, Mary decided to sit in on a different math class instead, without bothering to ask if it was okay. She missed the final exam and she can’t make it up. Before the conference was over, we found out that in another class, she wasn’t going to receive any credit at all for the year’s final project; evidently, she spent the entire class period doing a friend’s hair while the group she was supposed to be working on it with, did all of the legwork. She’ll pass. But not exactly with flying colors.
It boils down to this: I can’t guarantee the laundry will never back up. I can’t promise Mary that she won’t miss braiding her girlfriend’s hair when she’s supposed to be taking a final exam. I can’t say with any certainty that this will put her on the right track by the end of seventh grade or that this won’t be really hard for me to do in any number of ways. But I can say that I stood up and I dared to do something a little different, when too many parents don’t. “Let it be weird!” I told Spencer, finally fed up. “Let it be a little scary. If all it gives us is the chance to talk about something we did with our daughter in a positive light - one that doesn’t give everyone else a false sense of who she is or who she’s turning into - it will have been worth it. I’m sick of talking about her like she’s nothing but trouble, when I know that she’s not. I’m sick of only having negative updates for people who call to ask how she is. I’m sick of shielding her from the only “friends” that she knows, and I’m sick of always having to punish her for trouble she wouldn’t be getting into at home. I’m sorry, but you can’t convince me that this is going to be too hard. At this point, if this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it’ll be worth the effort.”
So we’re doing it. I’m making a plan for the year now. I’m stockpiling schedule ideas and tips and tricks from seasoned homeschoolers around the web and within our community. I’m gathering ideas on how to occupy and stimulate the younger two when Mary and I will be the busiest and I’m harvesting housecleaning schedules and chore charts and Martha Stewart brand office organizers from Staples for the dining room. None of it is very sophisticated yet, but it’ll get there.
That being said, I know that over the course of this summer vacation especially, I’m bound to get a whole lot of why’s. Since this is about to get way too long for anyone’s attention span to survive, I’m breaking this up into two posts. This one is just to say… We’re doing it! *gulp* Yay!