How We Got Here
Our Unexpected Journey into Homeschooling
In this guest post by Mary Paul of Homeschooling2e, she discusses her unexpected journey into homeschooling her twice exceptional child. If you are parent to a gifted or 2e child, we welcome you to join SEA’s Gifted & 2e support group.
It’s funny sometimes – there never seemed to be a “plan” for us to homeschool, but looking back I think that we never really had a choice. Like a one-way road that forces you onto the highway, our road led straight to homeschooling. And I was dragged, kicking and screaming all the way to the lead parent and teacher role.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to homeschool. Truly. Because I knew what it would be like. I knew how much work it would be. And I knew, having raised my oldest to the ripe old age of 5, that it would be difficult to keep up with him. More like impossible, but I’m being optimistic here.
It’s not a well-kept secret now if you read my blog Homeschooling2e at all. I was homeschooled K-12 at a time when only the outliers homeschooled. When not most, but ALL of the homeschool curriculum was faith-based in a very in-your-face way. So I knew what I was getting into, and I was all for the grand idea of putting my kid on the shiny yellow school bus and sending him off to kindergarten.
Life happens. And here we are.
Homeschooling The Twice Exceptional Child
My oldest is twice exceptional. That means he’s advanced in some ways, and hampered by learning disabilities in others. He is so far out of the box that there is no box, only his path to learning. I worried about him starting Kindergarten and struggling with a class full of other 5-year-olds who weren’t fascinated by volcanos and couldn’t skip count by 50s already.
We did our best to start him off with the help he needed for his disabilities by doing an IEP (individual education plan) evaluation before school even started. And that’s where we got our first taste of the system. The system that doesn’t like dealing with out-of-the-box kids, that isn’t equipped to help them succeed.
I should note: I don’t hate the school system. Our local schools are quite good, and we have friends with kids in the system that do well. For our situation and our son’s needs, it just didn’t work out.
They refused to give him the IEP because “he’s so smart he’ll cope.” Sorry, “smart” can’t cope with sensory issues that sent my child screaming out of public restrooms because someone turned on a hand dryer. “Smart” doesn’t help him at all when the school rule is “no talking in the hallways” and he cannot seem to turn his mouth off. “Smart” discounts the fact that he is twice exceptional and has struggles too.
I read the rule handbook for his base school – by their rules, my child would have been expelled within 3 days. For behaviors he had no control over. It was a disaster just waiting to happen, in a state where a full 7.5 hour day was the norm.
So that was that. We were homeschooling.
Unexpectedly Homeschooling – Not Quite What Was Expected
We started off without me worrying too much about it. After all, I lived this. I knew what I was doing, right? Wrong. It turns out, trying to teach a twice exceptional student is wildly different than what I was used to. I was right: it is a ton of work. Mostly because I have to make most of his materials to accommodate the pre-reader interested in things not usually found in elementary textbooks.
On my low days I admit to how resentful I feel about the way this whole thing turned out. Before kids I was an artist. Scratch that – I’m still an artist! I just don’t have the time or energy to create anything right now. I keep hoping that magical break that I’m trying to catch is right around the corner, but the deeper we get into this homeschooling gig the more I realize I’m slipping away.
The person I am – the person I wanted to be – has become subsumed in this homeschooling mom persona that eerily resembles my mom. Homeschooling is what my child needs for his mental, physical, and educational health right now, but I’m not blind to what it has cost me personally or us as a family.
Homeschooling is a Choice – Not An Easy One
Despite being homeschooled and loving certain things about it, I never lose sight of the fact that not all homeschoolers chose this path. Not everyone wanted to make the kind of sacrifices we do, or is entirely happy about this whole thing.
Homeschoolers often feel like they have to defend homeschooling as the “best” choice to naysayers. It’s a choice. It’s not always the best choice. And for some of us, it wasn’t a choice at all.
So for those of you who secretly feel resentful and sad about how your road dragged you here, I see you. I am you. And I promise you that you won’t regret what you do to help your child succeed. Because that’s why you’re homeschooling, right?
It’s worth it. I’m living proof that all of the sacrifice, the work, and the struggles are worth it. Don’t give up.
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