I haven’t even begun Homeschooling and already it has been such a crazy journey!
On 18th October I gave official notice to my daughter’s school that I would not be re-enrolling her at the school for next year. I was nervous, happy and sad – all at the same time.
For a little while I couldn’t help but think about all the things that she would be missing out by not going to school; things like School Photos, School Sports Day, performing before an audience with peers, that kind of thing. I shared my thoughts with my close friend Renee who has just begun her own Homeschooling journey with her 10 year old daughter and she expressly assured me that there are so many exciting aspects to homeschooling that these things are not missed.
I knew that Homeschooling would be very exciting. I knew that it would be AWESOME. But whenever we move on from one phase of life to another, we have these mixed emotions, don’t we. And that was a phase that I certainly experienced.
I then went on to feel just plain sadness. Sadness about leaving my own community, my own friends. It’s my daughter’s school – but it’s my community. I felt sad for a long time, it lasted quite a few weeks. I almost did not WANT to homeschool my child. The feelings of loss were quite strong.
I asked the question in an online forum for Homeschooling parents about their own journeys of having left a school and their own community also. Again I received an overwhelming response from parents reassuring me that I WILL meet new people in my Homeschooling journey who will be just as wonderful, and that my own daughter will too. At the time I wasn’t feeling strong and I just wanted to cry, and I wanted to say, “But I don’t want to meet new people”.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…
I giggle at human emotions. They are incredibly fickle and childish, and yet so intricately important and valid.
Since getting through that phase of mixed emotions and then sadness, I have been really happy and very resolute in my decision. My own little girl is excited !!! As the year draws to an end, I told her that she had just two more weeks left of school. She responded excitedly, “Oooh! And does that mean I get to start Homeschooling after that?” I said yes, not realising at first that, in her child’s mind, she would think starting homeschooling meant starting the very next day after school finished! I then said, “Well, not straight away. You have school holidays first – and then we’ll start Homeschooling after New Years.” She was a bit disappointed! So funny.
I have been slowly sharing my decision with different parents at the school. My own family is very happy and excited for me because I come from an alternative upbringing which means most of my family members see a lot of value in Homeschooling and are happy for my decision. My parents carved the way for alternative living, against all manner of criticism and status quo, and it is not an easy path to take. I admire them very, very much. A lot of my own decisions are ‘alternative’ by hangover! But I’m not as strong as my parents are. It’s easier for me because it’s easy to state the case that ‘alternative’ is what I know. So when sharing my decision with others, I have chosen to tread carefully.
My daughter currently attends an independent Montessori school so a lot of the people that are part of the community are alternative thinkers in the first place. Sharing my decision has been met with understanding most of the time and, surprisingly, with many parents saying that they would love to homeschool their children too, if not for work restraints. Other parents are Montessori enthusiasts and do not see alternatives to Montessori as a valid choice.
Reading through Homeschooling blogs and forums has kept me open-minded to the fact that many more people might be adamantly against my choice. I brazenly shared my decision with my neighbour, Tracey, who is a school teacher. I knew that, her being a school teacher, would mean she might have her own opinion on the matter. When I shared it with her, she didn’t jump for joy but she did offer to help me with ideas and where to obtain educational materials from. I really appreciated this.
My own mother in law is a former school teacher and she stated that if Homeschooling were to be “done correctly”, that it could be very beneficial for the child. She also offered help with ideas.
But little was I prepared for the onslaught that was brought on when I shared my decision with my close friend, Ella, who is also a school teacher. She wanted to help me to “make the right decision” and talked to me about the need to keep the child at the centre of the decision, and not my own whims. She talked about the need to keep my marriage as a consideration because “teaching isn’t as easy as everybody thinks”. And she told me that I have taken myself completely out of the picture and that I am just going to run myself into the ground, stressed and exhausted, falling at the seams.
She had also told me that I must believe I am Superwoman – to be able to do it all. Run a business, launch my counselling service, and home-educate my child. This accusation came as a real shock to me because we’ve always had a very solid and supportive friendship. And if anything, I admire HER so much for all of the things that she accomplishes – she is the real Superwoman! And I mean that with love! She is an author, she is a community awareness ambassador on safety and the environment, she is continually quoted in newspapers and tweeted about, and she has a local park named after her! How was THIS woman accusing me of trying to be Superwoman? Was she JEALOUS ?! I felt sad, to be honest. I never expected such a tirade from my own very close friend.
Of course, she made VERY valid points and looking after my own is certainly one of the things that I have kept in mind in my lead-up to the decision. I have been informing myself as much as I can. What people don’t often know about me – and this may come as a surprise to many because I can be so happy-go-lucky and go-with-the-flow and super-social and bigger-than-life – is that I am a massive researcher. I mentally strip myself of what I know or have been taught, then I gather information, I analyse it, I re-analyse it, I methodically categorise it, I tick off boxes, I make lists and schedules… all before making a massive decision that will impact my child, my marriage, my little family.
The conversation with Ella left me shaking afterwards and I couldn’t shake off the assumptions she’d made about me for the rest of the day. This was a HUGE opportunity to take stock of none other than Me and where I stand with myself. I kept thinking about what Ella had said and realising more and more that these were HER fears, HER worries, HER reasons for not homeschooling her own child “even though she is a qualified teacher”. I started to realise that she could only speak from her own life experience and that, at the end of the day, she is not ME.
And I realised for the first time what these Homeschooling blogs were talking about. Ahhhh… I thought. So this is what it can be like.I read a quote that said, “Choose to feel confident rather than angry and insecure.” And isn’t that such a strong message: CHOOSE to feel confident.
I read another playful one later which brought giggles.
And after that, I moved on with strength.
PS, Ella and I quickly made up and we are still best friends.