There are some folks in this world who set out to homeschool. Homeschooling has always been a part of their life plan.
Then there are others who, for one reason or another, gradually make their way into the world of homeschooling.
And then there are the unexpected homeschoolers.
It’s not that I ever had anything against homeschooling, it’s just that it was never on my radar. My husband and I are both products of public schools. Before having children, I worked as a school psychologist in the Boston Public Schools. I was passionate about urban education and had plans to return to my career once my children were school-aged.
Life is funny sometimes.
I never pictured myself homeschooling, but I also never imagined that a child could be so misunderstood in kindergarten.
It was heartbreaking. Every day, at eleven o’clock, I’d roll into the elementary school pick-up line, my stomach filling with dread.
I’d pull up to the curb and my 5-year-old would approach my car. He walked slowly, downtrodden, with slumped shoulders and a deadpan expression on his sweet little face. He’d climb into the back of my car and then fall into his car seat, exhausted. It was as if it had taken every last drop of his energy to make the ascent into the backseat.
The knot in my stomach would grow tighter because I was anticipating what would come next. It always came next.
“Mum?” he’d ask, with a grim face. “Do I have to go to school tomorrow?”
What had happened to my little guy? Where were his smiles, his giggles? What had happened to his energy, his curiosity, his passion?
Where was that joyful learner that I sent off to kindergarten on that sunny September morning?
No one should be misunderstood at five.
We tried to work with the school, but it was clear that they viewed him as an impulsive pain-in-the-tush and viewed me as “that parent”.
Results confirmed what we had only whispered about at home. Our son was an outlier among outliers: a profoundly gifted, twice-exceptional child.
After one last terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad meeting, it was clear to us that there was no way his needs would be met in a K-3 building, even if that building also happened to be a National Blue Ribbon School. In one fell swoop, we found ourselves suddenly, unexpectedly, homeschooling.
One size does not fit all.
Those test results changed our world, as they gave us the courage to make decisions that felt extreme and yet entirely appropriate. In doing so, we set our son free.
We fell into homeschooling, blindly and without warning. We closed our eyes, offered a prayer, and jumped in headfirst. We did it for our son. We wanted his smile back. We wanted him to feel whole again.
And, do you know what? Once we removed the public school from the equation, he blossomed. His smile returned. He was our curious and joyful learner once more.
This has been the most unexpected yet delightful and educational journey of my life so far, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Children are our wisest teachers.