I just wanted to say hello and share some wonderful things that have happened due to unschooling.
My name is Joanne, I am 36, a Mom of three kids, the oldest 13, being Autistic.
They are Emily 13, Madelyn 8, and Logan 4.
My oldest is in a special school and is doing fine there. I love her teacher, no complaints.
My 8 year old Daughter has been a different story! She has always been very bright, talkative, and slightly hyper. After having a non-verbal child with Autism, I was thrilled! She's been such a joy for me. I love my oldest, but it's not the same as with Madelyn. We are very close.
When she went off to Kindergarten I was excited for her and she LOVED it. She's very social so it was fun. Then, 1st grade came and we started to see some small problems. She wasn't learning to read as fast as the other kids and she was experiencing symptoms of dyslexia. Still, she was happy so we continued. Then Second grade came. HUGE Nightmare form the start!! Maddie came home crying saying she was getting yelled at every day for talking too much. Her teacher clearly hated her and treated her very badly (I learned later) I was of course pulled into the principal's office and told she couldn't pay attention, talked too much, disruptive...on and on.....etc.
At first, I just nodded my head and agreed to the evaluations. I guess I was stunned.
When evaluations were complete, I was herded in with the teacher, psychologist, principal, and special ed case worker. They told me she was ADHD and urged me to medicate. Again, I was just trying to be cooperative, and agreed to seek a specialist for her. This was just before Christmas break.
During the 2 1/2 week break I talked to Maddie alot and spent time with her. I prayed alot about what to do. I then by accident, I mentioned what was happening to a parent from church and he told me they homeschooled. That was like a little seed being planted in my mind.
As the the time for school resuming came near, I began feeling troubled about sending her back. She had been having stomach aches and diarrhea from nerves and she wasn't happy anymore. I talked to her some more and she cried. That was it! I suddenly felt like Mama bear protecting her cub. My Husband and I approached her and asked her if she would like to be taught at home and not go back to school. She jumped across the kitchen and hugged me saying "YES!" That was it. We were decided!
I was a little nervous but as soon as we decided I knew it was right! I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from all of us. I also felt very powerful as I called her teacher and said she was not coming back! It was liberating! I was her Mom and I was in charge now!
I began spending a lot of time researching on the internet and getting info. I'll admit, I was overwhelmed and scared, but thinking about my Daughter in school helped me overcome it. I made the common mistake of approaching things like a "teacher" and buying a lot of needless supplies. I soon found out that didn't work for her and relaxed my approach. I backed off completely for about a month and just let her have fun. No pressure. My friend helped me see how important it was for Maddie to decompress from her public school experience. This made sense. I also found out about unschooling and realized right away that this was what she needed. Maddie had learned to hate reading and writing because it was forced on her and she struggled more that the other kids. Her self esteem was crushed and her desire to learn hampered. She just hated school work. I decided to stay away form worksheets, flash cards and anything "school-like". We started going to the library and reading "just for fun". She even resisted this at first because it was "reading work". She thought it would be hard like at school.
I felt frustrated, but still firm that I was doing the right thing. The next two months we did very little academics. We walked to the library, made crafts of every kind, painted, wall murals, handmade felt people and animals, watches snails lay eggs and hatch, read about snails. Found a book on Native Americans and dressed barbie and ken like indians. Made a tepee for them and papoose to carry their kids. Even made a grinding stone out of clay. Dad even had fun and made Ken a scary mask for ceremonies! We were having a blast. This even peaked our interest and we went on a family field trip to the museum of natural history in Salt lake city. It was great and led Maddie to other interest, like fossils, rocks and early humans.
However, I still had that nagging little voice saying I wasn't doing it right and I was failing because I wasn't following a curriculum. My Mom even expressed doubts and worried about how Maddie would learn everything she needed to know. Thank goodness I didn't let that sway me!
We are now almost 4 months in and I am seeing miracles happening in my home. Maddie is interested in EVERYTHING! When we go out and she sees something interesting she says "Hey Mom, we could learn about that!" I say ok, lets look that up when we get home". She WANTS to learn now. She comes up with something new all the time. Today we candled two finch eggs and observed the veins inside. She wants to learn how eggs develop. Soon we will see them hatch. We have watched videos on birds and read a book about it. We have three pet ducks and a garden she's helping with. She wants to learn how to cook. We learned to crochet together and paper mache'. I showed her the site of a 3,000 year old indian village and we wondered at their ability to survive. The fire station let us go up 100 feet in the ladder truck and showed us how it operated it. Her Dad let her help weld a broken car part. She told me triumphantly that she got to put a fire out! (YIKES)
Also, aside from her interest in learning growing she has forged a different relationship with her four year old brother. I see them with their heads together playing a lot and she makes him things. She made him a felt platypus that he carries around and sleeps with. She made him a garage for his firetruck out of cardboard. He adores her! When she went to school she only wanted to be with her friends and was often bratty to him. Her friends were also very snotty and I felt frustrated about the influences at school. She's kept a few nice friends but the pressure to impress other kids has completely faded and she seems so much happier. She has no pressure and can be herself. I love being with her and talking to her about everything. I can't believe I ever considered medicating her!
I'm sorry this has been so long but I just wanted to share what this has done for my Daughter. I feel like God has really looked our for us and helped us find this path. I plan to teach Logan at home too, especially since he has the same personality of his Sister and would likely find misery at school. I am so grateful that I can do this for my kids and give them something better. It's made me a better mom too, and it's not even been 4 months!
Anyway, I never thought I would see such changes so soon. I hope this encourages other parents to take the plunge, especially if there kids are struggling.