A very interesting read!!
I'd like to preface this reply with we now do public school but we did homeschool in years previous with a major leaning to unschooling..I really hate labels lol
Our experience was much like the op's we believed that the kids did not need formality, we visited museums we did outside nature stuff, had a huge library of books at their disposal..we engaged them as much as our budget would allow..my 7 yr old (6 at the time) THRIVED he self taught himself to read because he wanted to play world of warcraft and knew that he needed to be able to read the quests
My daughter on the other hand..not so good. She's now 9 (8 last yr) and could barely write her name, or any letters without a model..and reading..not happening..you can prob look back at some of my posts on this forum where I was FREAKING because she was not learning at all.
So life threw us a major curve-ball we HAD to put them in public school.
Long story short, My DD ended up being diagnosed with a cognative disability..she is in a self contained room most of her school day and just now starting to learn sight words. DS is thriving at school, top of his class etc.
But the point I wanted to make with this post is that often-times as parents we overlook the not so good things about our kids, we need an outsiders POV to say hey something isn't right here..
Our Dr's never paid that much attention to DD to find anything wrong with her..shes fine physicaly..maybe because we are low income and don't exactly have the best care around, who knows..and I dont blame the Dr's honestly they have 50 people to see without insurance. so its bound to happen that things they arent neccesarily going to look for things and everthing isnt going to be evident to them in 1 yearly visit. (and I will shut up before my health insurance rant kicks in lol)
We did associate with other homeschoolers, but my gut tells me most people didn't pay that much attention to her (as most adults don't) to see there was an issue, or they were to kind to discuss it with me..My degree is in Marketing and DH in computer science, neither of us has any education background whatsoever..So we went to the public school system with our tail between our legs saying we are at a loss..its all our fault etc..Yes there was a whole lot of guilt and frustration and *clears throat* debates over wether we just screwed up or if there was something wrong. And now even after shes getting all the services she needs we still feel guilty that we didn't send her to school earlier because she lost out on a few yrs of services.
I can completely understand where the OP is coming from, its a very hard slap in the face when everything you believed to be true turns out to be not true for you..I'm not at all saying unschooling or homeschooling doesnt work, but it doesnt work for ALL kids,even in the same family. There are certain milestones that every kid should meet even unschooled kids (ie writng their name) should hit at some point in the younger years, not only because of a possible disability, but because NONE of us knows what the future holds..and for parents like us who denied all the signs there was any issue other than shes just not ready. like alot of people and the OP we got swept up in the hype and by doing so totaly failed to acknowledge her needs.