Our Journey from Public School to Unschooling (Vol. 1)

I often reflect upon our schooling journey. When I started this parenting gig I was quite young and thought that you did things a certain way. When your child turned 5 you shipped them off to Kindergarten and that was that. I can remember Kyle’s first day of Kindy like it was yesterday. We had just got back from a family vacation to Wyoming the day before. I was feeling quite frantic about sending him to school, not because I thought he wouldn’t do well but because it was such a change for us. I knew I’d miss him. I had no idea which classroom or teacher he was supposed to have and that was not helping the feelings of panic at all. We pulled into the parking lot of the Early Education Center and I just had this pit in my stomach.  Kyle came to stand beside me as I was getting the baby out of the car seat all of a sudden seeming unbelievably BIG. I reached down to grab his hand and he turned his little face up to mine and said, “I’m a big kid now, Mommy. I don’t NEED to hold your hand anymore.” and that’s when my eyes filled with tears.

I was really trying to keep it together in front of the boy, lol. I didn’t want him to pick up on my sadness, he was excited. We walked into the office and the receptionist asked if I was okay. Never ask a near crying woman if they are okay, they are probably barely keeping it together, lol. The tears started to flow. I found out where he was supposed to be and dropped him off. I cried for a solid week. I really did miss my boy but he was having a blast at school. It was about the second quarter when things started to go slightly awry. Apparently Kyle was having some difficulty with letter sounds and recognition, not terribly so but enough that he was flagged for additional help. He was placed in a reduction class for part of the day. I honestly didn’t feel he needed it, that he would grow into what they were teaching but they felt it necessary to push it. It was an awful distraction for him during the day. He was in class for 2.5 hours and part of that he was taken for a reduction class which he did NOT enjoy.

The next quarters conferences came up and I decided to tell his teacher that I did not want him to participate in the reduction class anymore. He really didn’t like it and I wasn’t seeing any difference. His kindergarten teacher always had wonderful things to say about him. He was eager to learn, loved to participate, had excellent social skills, and was a pleasure to have in class. Imagine my surprise when he got into first grade and his teacher said the exact opposite about him.

In all fairness, Kyle did have a lot of upheaval the summer BEFORE entering the first grade. I was pregnant and ready to pop pretty much as soon as school started AND his biological father had died suddenly and unexpectedly that May. I think, though, Kyle was so young (he’s a June baby) he really lacked the maturity needed for full day school. They weren’t allowed to talk at lunch or run at recess and I had a very difficult time finding a voice to express my concerns and complaints. He was wiggly, talkative, and distracted in class (who wouldn’t be?!) and his teacher really held it against him. I think he spent the bulk majority of first grade drawing during the day and then doing ALL of the day’s work at night. To say the least it was stressful on both of us.

It was around this time that I felt it would be better to homeschool him, I mean I was already essentially… right? My family was very discouraging during these discussions. I was told I didn’t have the patience and that it wasn’t a good idea, he’d be lacking socially… and on and on. I placed those thoughts on the back burner… and as I reflect back now I wish I had just gone with it. Alas, it takes time to grow into your courage to stand up to people in your life… and I had a path to follow.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our schooling journey!