How It All Began

We are a homeschooling family of four. I am a former public school teacher who left the classroom to better meet the needs of our daughter who has mild special needs. We continue to homeschool because of the benefits it provides our entire family. It’s a lifestyle I am continually grateful we were pushed into. J

I Love Teaching

I taught elementary school for six years and have a Masters in Education and a School Administration license. I started teaching kindergarten in the Los Angeles Unified School District. When my husband and I started trying to have children, we decided to move to Utah to be closer to his family and to be able to afford a home. When we weren’t able to conceive on our own, we decided to adopt through foster care. While we got our ducks in a row for fostering, I began teaching first grade at a wonderful charter school that had just opened. I had amazing opportunities like being trained in the International Baccalaureate program and traveling to North Carolina to participate in a leadership day at an exemplary school. I loved teaching and was passionate about my job. I still miss it.

Foster Care Changed Our Lives

Meanwhile, we began the emotional roller coaster of fostering twin girls who would become our daughters after sixteen excruciating months. Our girls were almost five years old when they came to us in June of 2007, the summer before they would start kindergarten. One of our twins was still not speaking and had a host of developmental delays. The school district wanted her to be bused to a self-contained classroom on the other side of town. By the end of the summer, she had started talking (though only a select few could understand her) and had miraculously learned all of her letters. I couldn’t stomach the thought of her being in a special education classroom, possibly as one of the highest functioning children, all day every day. I knew she needed neurotypical peers and high expectations. Luckily, we were able to get her into a full day kindergarten spot at our charter school. Her sister joined later in the year when another spot opened up.

The Classroom Didn’t Work

Kindergarten was a rough year emotionally for our family, as we struggled with all things foster care. Visits, court, therapy, siblings, grandparents- I honestly don’t know how we survived. Luckily, the girls had an amazing teacher and continued to do well academically. First grade was even better as we finalized the adoption and settled into a routine. Our daughter who struggled was in the classroom full time, reading and learning. Second grade was when it started to unravel. She was no longer successful at school and had constant meltdowns. She was not learning and started regressing in many areas. The kids were getting older and the bullying and isolation began. To say things were stressful would be an understatement. Our family was suffering, my job was suffering and something had to change.

Homeschoolers Are Weird

We looked into private schools, but unfortunately many private schools aren’t cut out to handle and/or don’t accept students with special needs. We flirted with the idea of homeschooling but initially thought the idea was ludicrous. Homeschoolers were weird. We were normal. I was a teacher for crying out loud! Plus, we didn’t think I could possibly give up my income and I really didn’t want to leave teaching. As the year dragged on, we kept coming back to homeschooling as a last resort. There just weren’t any other options for this child. I obsessed about it and read everything I could get my hands on. When we finally made the decision, most people thought I’d just had a mental breakdown. Actually, I probably had.

Homeschooling Brought Peace

So, third grade started at home. I had my schedule on the wall, complete with recess breaks and snack time. After about a week, the schedule came down and I still laugh at how long it took me to transition from a classroom mindset to a homeschooling mindset. I was blown away with what was happening. We were able to cover more academics in just two hours than in a whole day of school. Plus, we could go swimming, to the library, have play dates, and make all our therapy appointments. I had my children back. My daughter was no longer an emotional mess, constantly tired and agitated. The entire tone of our home and family changed. I was bonding with my girls in a way I hadn’t before. I still wonder what life would have been like had we continued down the destructive path we were on. Homeschooling changed our lives. We are still far from perfect, but this lifestyle has allowed us to focus on what is really important, while giving each of my girls exactly what she needs.

To read more about our decision, go here.

 

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