This is a reposting, but I added in some details that I think are important to our story.
It’s important to note that before our youngest came along, my husband and I had always sent our children off to public schools without question. That was all we knew and that was what was expected of us.
Our homeschooling journey began in Ontario, Canada. We had just moved from Arizona and it was the first day of school for our four children. Our oldest was enrolled in the public high school and our other three were enrolled in the combined elementary/middle school. Our youngest was 6 and this was to be his Kindergarten year. But as we stood in the school office, imagine our surprised to hear that our little boy was already placed in a first-grade class because, while he’d been too young for Kindergarten in Arizona, due to his late birthday, he was suddenly too old for Kindergarten in Canada.
I was deeply upset, knowing that my son was not ready for 1st grade. He was still learning the sounds of his letters. We tried to explain this to the office staff, but they were unsympathetic and impatient with us. We politely requested to speak with the vice principal or principal, and we were promptly refused. Dejectedly, we followed a staff member to our son’s classroom and I left the building with tears in my eyes.
So, we rolled with it because what choice did we have? We told ourselves that our bright little boy would be just fine. My husband even bragged to his co-workers that his son was skipping a grade. It did bother us that he was considered to be “behind” his Canadian peers from the get-go. We told ourselves we’d just have to catch him up. We’d work with him after school. We also asked his teacher for extra help, which never came.
Four months later our sweet little boy was completely miserable, and so was I. One day he even ran away from the school yard in the direction of home. Luckily his sister saw him and caught up to him. She was so upset by what had happened that the office phoned me. They acted like it was no big deal, but my boy was demonstrating how unhappy he was at school. The whole novelty of going to school with his big sisters had worn off and reality had set in. His teacher had given him D’s on his first report card. It had gotten to the point that every morning was a battle to get him up and ready for school. He’d cling to me in the school yard and I’d literally be pushing him inside the door when the bell rang. And trying to work with him at home was a joke. He was so worn down and discouraged from 6 hours of forced learning that he shut down at home.
And that’s when I realized that something had to change. The first year of school should be FUN. It shouldn’t be torture. But, what to do? I was at a loss until a friend of mine gave me the inspiration to homeschool. She was a homeschooling mom herself and she assured me that it was not rocket science. So, I talked it over with my husband and I prayed about it and then I did something I’d never done before. I went against tradition and I pulled my son out of the public system and I took complete control over his education.
In Canada, homeschooling is a protected right, just like in the states, and in Ontario all that was required of us was to notify the school in writing. I told my son’s teacher what I was doing, and she was supportive of my decision. As far as the school was concerned, she was the only one supporting us. When I turned in my notification to the office, I was requested to stay in the office until the vice-principal could meet with me. He saw me right away. (Now I could see him!) He sat down across from me and proceeded to tell me that I was making a huge mistake and was about to ruin my son’s life. He even used our moving as one of his reasons, saying I’d already uprooted him to a different home and now I was going to confuse him even more by pulling him out of school. He continued by claiming I was overly-attached to my son, and he even said that surely I had better things to do with my time! By the end of our meeting, I felt so belittled by him that I was in tears. I remember stating that I had every right to homeschool my child as I stumbled out of the room.
I went home and collapsed. I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing, but the vice-principal had really upset me. I listened to a voice mail he left on my phone a couple of hours later (there was no way I was picking up to talk to him again) promising me that my son would now receive help from the school twice a week, in order to catch him up! I think that message only fortified my resolve. I sent my husband to pick up our son from school that afternoon. It was Valentine’s Day because we had decided we’d make the class Valentine’s party my son’s last day. My husband ended up speaking to the vice-principal who called me an “over-emotional” mother. My husband told him a thing or two! And when the principal once again brought up the help the school was suddenly willing to offer our son, my husband replied that it was “too little, too late” and added, “My wife will give my son all the attention he needs every day now.”
And then he marched out of that school, hand in hand with our son.
Within a couple of months afterwards, my son was writing his letters and beginning to read. All he needed was SPACE and TIME to breathe and just be a little boy. Most importantly, he was happy again.
It turned out to be a life changing decision, definitely for the best, and we have never looked back. Why would we? My baby boy and I were having too much fun together. Homeschooling has truly been a rewarding experience for us and that is why I want to share our experiences and give encouragement to others who are also braving this less-traveled, often-ridiculed path. I want to say to you, “It’s so worth it!” Because it truly is.