Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Speed of Life

Life is busy.

Very busy.

With four kids there's actually no way to stop it being busy. You can cut every extra curricular activity from your schedule and still find that just having kids around makes you busy.

Recently though our life has slowed right down. Riiiiiiight down.

August 11th 2014... that's the day we started homeschooling.

We had considered it since before Lion was to start school. We just couldn't wrap our head around it, it just wasn't the right time for us, I guess. Now, with so many changes going on it became evident that this was the right time. This was when we were to do it. Mid-primary school, mid-year, mid-term, mid-toddlerhood (yeah, that's a fun learning curve), mid-aspergers-diagnosis (there's another post there), right in the middle of everything that would be used to tell us that "maybe you should wait a little longer". Nope. Waiting for my kids every afternoon and feeling my stomach knot up as I wondered how their day went, if they were picked on, did they have friends today, how much further behind did they fall in that subject they are just struggling with... YIKES. I was stressed, as I watched their faces round that corner each afternoon and tried to judge from 20m away how their day was, I was seeing that THEY were stressed. The playground was a rough place at their school. We had to report one school kid to the principal for simulating sex acts... unfortunately not before the damage had been done in our house and ill-gotten knowledge was passed on to younger siblings. Though that was a bigger than average situation, when you have kids who take disobedience quite seriously and are constantly surrounded by kids who are disobedient and don't care at all if they are caught and punished for it... it's both exhausting for them and slowly, slowly, slowly it eats away at their own behaviour and you find them copying what they have seen, you hear them mimicking the words they have heard other kids use to those in authority when they get in trouble, it breaks your heart.

Then, you have a holiday. Two weeks off for the mid-year holiday and by the end of it I was starting to catch glimpses of the kids I used to have... The relaxed and calm 9 year old who just wants to invent stuff, the 7 year old who is so kind and gentle. Hey, that's right, these are my kids! Where did these kids go?

For years every time I've brought up homeschooling, even just to chat and "do you think we'll ever..." with Wolf the response has been resoundingly full of reasons why we shouldn't. Although we could both see the reasons why it would be good, he was my level head, the reminder that I had a newborn and was already struggling emotionally, the reminder that we still weren't finished having kids and how would I handle falling pregnant and homeschooling. It's not to say that if we had started sooner we couldn't have dealt with those things, or even that now we were excuse free, but at the time they were our reasons for not homeschooling. This time though his first answer was "Yeah, how soon do you think we could start". I think I might have started crying... I don't remember... We decided that it was best to send them back to school to start the new term, we really didn't know how long it took to get this homeschooling thing happening.  At first we thought we'd see out the year... then maybe just the next term... then we started to look at it in terms of days... we needed to get them out of there.

Towards the end of term 2 they ASKED me to start homeschooling them. Their friends had just announced they were starting and it seemed appealing. I assumed it was the fact that they had heard that the school day is a lot shorter for homeschoolers so I suggested that Wolf and I would consider their request and they should go away, discuss why they want to be homeschooled and come back to us. They came back with a well thought through argument for homeschooling, not a single mention of finishing school before lunch.

Lion was stressed. Lion was seeing a psychologist for anxiety. Lion was not coping in the classroom. Lion had recently been diagnosed "Aspergers with severe anxiety". School just wasn't fitting him well. It had become heavy on the testing and "scores" and if a kid fell behind there was no room to catch them up. I was hearing what a great student he was and how he was doing really well with a couple of areas that were causing him struggles, but the reality of it was that there was becoming a bigger and bigger gap between his "good" areas and his "struggling" areas. 

His teacher was fantastic, the psychologist was giving him ideas to help cope with his anxiety in class, he just didn't fit the system and the system didn't have room for much flexibility.

So we started, we met with the principal, with each teacher, with the psychologist, we met with everyone, we made sure everyone knew that we loved the school, we loved the teachers, we just needed to get out of this system that wasn't working. We cried. We found as many of their past teachers as we could to say goodbye to. The biggest tears were for the teacher aide that they both had for prep... I couldn't bring myself to go see her until the very last day.

Two weeks after we started, Lion has another psychologist appointment. She had a quick chat before taking him in, then after a very short time they were back out. She asked me to come in to her office... then she told me she didn't want to see us again. She confirmed over and over that homeschooling is right for him, he didn't have anything that was making him worried or nervous or anxious in any way. I got some more ideas for how to help him with his non-school related anxieties and then we left.

It's not been all smooth sailing, we go through a Christian distance education school and they are great at helping us figure out where we are going with things and what needs to be tweaked and what we are doing right. I read an article after our first couple of weeks saying that some families find it takes 1-2 years to find their groove, at which point I ran to Wolf and burst into tears saying "I need to find my groove and it can't take 2 years!" I think we are settling into that groove, I am finding that for the first time in my life I am enjoying and embracing routines and predictability. It's kind of frightening. This year we started Monkey doing Prep, that's brought along some new challenges now that I have two kids doing roughly the same work and one doing the very basics, but we have a lot of flexibility so we are getting through. We are still busily filling the gaps that have been left from when they were trying to keep up with the school curriculum, but we are also learning new and exciting things all the time.

So now we are at home a lot. We are also out a lot, but it doesn't feel anywhere near as crazy busy as it did before. We have joined the local homeschool group, we have youth groups and church and sunday school and cousins and playgroup and catch ups with friends... I'm feeling like it's the right kind of busy now.

So things keep moving at the speed of life, which I am pretty sure is faster than the speed of light, because my toddler seems to be growing up right before my eyes!

I didn't take many first day of homeschooling photos... but this one was one of the few I did get.


  1. Homeschooling is what you make it, but anything you do is better than the public schools because you love these kids so much and they need to spend time with you. Enjoy it as much as possible, it goes very quickly. we are in our 11th and next to last year. :-)

    1. It didn't take long to see the benefits starting to flow in. It causes some tension some days but a hug and a chat usually take care of that.

  2. Best of luck! I have huge admiration for moms that can do this. I doubt if I ever will be able to. BTW our L has a severe ADHD with autistic traits diagnosis. I bet we have a lot we can talk about

    1. I always thought that it was something I could never do, even though we had considered it over and over. There are so many resources out there to help though. Once I realised that I really wouldn't be as "on my own" as I first though then the whole thing seemed more "doable".
      I bet there's a lot of similarities between them!


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