Why I chose to homeschool and why I chose to stop!
When Matthew first came to live with me he was just about to enter the wonderful world of schooling! He was still in foster care so homeschooling was not allowed and I didn't know the length of his stay, so private school was out of the question. I chose to place him in a local public charter school that I was working with at the time since I knew the staff and would be able to keep a close eye on him. We made it through the year, barely, but only because Matthew had the awesomest teacher ever. After Kindergarten it was clear that he would be staying forever so I enrolled him in the Christian school near me hoping that the good influence of his peers and no more traumatizing visits with birth family would lead to changes in his behavior....so that didn't work. After what is now merely referred to as the "incident" around Christmas in his first grade classroom this was no longer an option for him. By this time I was working from home so I thought I would jump on the homeschooling ban-wagon. For those of you not familiar with the attachment/adoption circle, homeschooling is kinda a big thing. There is a large population of moms who are homeschooling these kiddos day in and day out. I always perceived these women as more dedicated, more creative, more patient than myself. They seemed to have this therapeutic parenting thing down to a science. I perceived them spending the day engaging their children in learning, baking delicious gluten free cookies, keeping the house cleaned and organized and all the while working through their children's trauma and healing, creating the perfect family. Maybe that was the solution to all of our behavior woes.....I just needed to homeschool. So in we jumped. The last half of first grade was magical Matthew completed work that his first grade teacher had told me he was nowhere near capable. Don't get me wrong we had our struggles and it took all of our energy to get through the basics each day, but we did it! The house was a disaster and we ate out too often, but we did it! I learned more about my son in those few months then I had in the last year and a half. I learned what he was capable of, what triggered him, what strategies would work and what wouldn't. I learned when to push him and when to back off. I taught him how to understand empathy for others physical pain (and I had the bruises to prove it). It was a magical time. I wouldn't trade it for the world. We began to understand each other. Then came second grade. We began homeschooling and I was determined that this was going to be a great year. However, the magic never came. There was yelling, pouting, gnashing of teeth, and that was just on my end :) Things were not going as planned. The control battles became unbearable. We understood each other all right, he understood how to push my buttons and my sanity and I understood that he was capable of much better. It became exhausting and triggering for both of us. In December of that year Matthews younger brother was "released" from his preschool program, meaning he was now home with us all day. It was the straw that broke the camels back. Having two RADishes in the house along with a two year old who was into everything was. not. working. I struggled with the decision to continue homeschooling. I worried about changing his school once again. I worried that he would be able to manipulate and get away with behavior in the classroom causing all our hard work to be destroyed. I was worried he wouldn't make friends and learn to further distance himself from peers. I worried I would spend more time at school dealing with issues making it pointless. I didn't want to explain our situation and teach yet a new group of professionals, but the struggle was mainly my own. I felt like a failure, I didn't feel good enough. I saw all these women who were doing it all and I just couldn't. I contacted the public school and Matthew was eventually placed in a small pyscho-educational school with a 1:5 ratio. Best decision ever. He is doing great, has glowing reports, and best of all he is making some positive choices. Only time will tell and maybe one day we will give it another go, but for now this is working for US.
What I realized was that if it wasn't homeschooling it would just be something else, maybe I just needed to feed a gluten free diet or sign the boys up for the latest therapy to come around. What I perceived when looking at all these beautiful women and their beautiful families was partially true, they are all AMAZING, they are all DEDICATED, they are all CREATIVE, they are all PATIENT, but so am I. They are all finding and doing what they think is best for their UNIQUE and INDIVIDUAL children, but so am I. None of us are perfect and the grass may always look greener on the other side, but we are ALL dealing with our own unique blend of problems, worries, therapies and issues. We are all in different stages of this battle for our kids hearts. What works for one child might not work for mine. There is no manual or one magic program that will "fix" what was broken in my child so long ago. I AM ENOUGH, I don't have to be a supermom, I can leave my therapeutic parenting panties at the door every once in awhile and screw up and its ok cause there's always tomorrow. My kids didn't get this way overnight, there were years of trauma that came before me, I cant expect them to heal overnight.
-Bessy (who blogs at Living a RAD Life)