I’ll be honest. I wasn’t completely sure what home school would do to this household. Often what I think things will look like, and how they actually emerge, don’t fit exactly right. Many times I find myself chiseling away at the rough edges until things fall into place more easily. But I knew we needed to make some big changes in order to keep my youngest daughter, The Hare, from spiraling into a black hole of anxiety and depression. Her joy and passion for learning had succumbed to rigid rules, state educational regulations and the destruction of creative learning. She was lost and we needed to find her again.
DW had many questions and concerns initially, but once I did all my research and made a real plan of action, he was quickly my biggest advocate and supporter. It really boiled down to me making myself an ultimatum: succeed or else. There was no other alternative. The educational and emotional well-being of my youngest daughter was at stake. Plus, the overall environment of our family dynamics would be altered and home school would need to bring harmony not just to the youngest, but to everyone involved.
Not every day has been smooth sailing, we’ve created a few ripples and waves over the months. It took a while to figure out schedules, approaches and projects. Securing a community was also important and so was knowing when to take a break. However, we have ended up on the other side stronger and happier. There are but a few weeks left of school, and yet our brains are already thinking ahead to next year.
Although I wasn’t completely sure what this educational adventure would look like, I was pretty sure it could be tangibly measured. Test grades, final projects, book reports and productivity would be our measure. I wanted a record of successes, a portfolio of progress, to justify our decision. I also wanted a child who could sleep through the night and get through a school day without panic attacks. I was optimistic I wouldn’t be dodging temper tantrums or flying objects any more. And although my daughter will never be long or lanky, I hoped she would learn to stand taller and be more sure of herself, less fearful.
Most of all, I longed for the days my sweet girl was excited about the morning rather than wishing she never had to wake up.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a writer’s conference, hosted by A Rally of Writers. As an added bonus, I got to go with a good friend. She is a parent of one of The Hare’s former classmates. I really enjoy her company, but recently have had few opportunities to talk in person. Most of our communication this year is through Facebook and email.
We hadn’t been on the road long before she said, “I’ll tell you what Emily, I can’t believe what a transformation there has been in your daughter.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, knowing it had been months since she had any interaction with my daughter.
“I mean, that every picture I have seen of her this year, she is smiling,” my friend said, “She is not the same kid that left public school last year. There is a light in her eyes that I don’t think I have ever seen before.”