Yesterday I had a terrible migraine. I took some medicine and tried to take a nap. When the migraine was finally starting to subside I could hear my two older children and their father having a conversation (prompted by the Cosby Show). "But Daddy - are you serious - you really wouldn't get remarried if mom died?" "No", he emphatically replied - "I would want to always be miserable" Then one of the children told my husband - "But Daddy you would have to get married again - otherwise we would have to go to school!" "Yeah!" The other child said raising their voice. They then began telling their Daddy all the reasons they shouldn't be made to go to school.
I sat on my bed in amazement. Seriously! This is the main problem to my children if I died - they couldn't be homeschooled anymore??? To begin with, I must admit, I was quite insulted. I am more than just a homeschooler I thought!
Then as I sat there I realized something that had never occurred to me. Homeschooling my children has always been important to me; I never realized it was also important to them. When we started homeschooling, because of a medical condition; I did not feel my daughter was socially ready for kindergarten. I wanted some more time to work on social behaviors - the academic part was easy. Then we continued homeschooling because she became involved with gymnastics. Both she and her brother were on team, so there were many hours at the gym. I wanted time with them that I did not feel I would get if they spent all day at school and all afternoon and evening at the gym.
Somewhere in the midst we had another child and adopted a 6 year year old. Quickly it was clear that I needed time to help this child merge into our family. The 6 year old had attachment disorder so homeschool seemed like the most viable option. I am here to tell you - it did not work very well. At the time I had no idea what RAD was. He took every second of my time; my other children were left with nothing. So we came to a crossroad - I could homeschool him or my three others. My husband & I decided it was to be the three others - for bonding reasons. When my RAD child came home from school he took up the majority of my time -- I wanted to make sure my other children got some of me, so homeschooling them & sending him to school seemed to be the best choice.
When my RAD son came home from his first residential treatment (he's currently in #2 - hopefully the last one) his anxiety was extremely high. Everyone agreed he probably would be back in a crisis center in a matter of a couple of weeks if we did not find a way to reduce the anxiety -- so the decision was made to homeschool him also. It had been a couple of years since he was homeschooled, I knew the pitfalls from before and made a commitment not to let him monopolize all of me this time around. It took a lot of effort, but homeschooling actually was the right choice . It gave me extra time to bond with him and create moments that all the siblings could bond together.
The epiphany that came to me sitting on that bed was this: For us, homeschooling is not something we do just during "school time". It has become a way of life - one that I (& evidently my children) love. We have been time period camping to study time periods, my two oldest have flown an airplane when we were studying aviation, we play learning games all the time & we learn to speak intimately with one another. We learn what the needs are of one another and pray for them (just to name a few). I would not give away the precious bonding times we have experienced through homeschooling for anything -- they are what keep me going when I just want to throw in the towel and send everyone to school. Homeschooling is not about only the academics - it's about taking those academics and teaching "family". I AM NOT saying you cannot teach "family" without homeschooling - I'm saying for US it has been a viable & wonderful way of teaching "what family means to us" to our children.
Doing the "mommy dance"...