Sunday, January 6, 2019

Farewell to Homeschooling

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. After 11 years of homeschooling, it's time to say farewell.

In light of that, I wanted to write up a post chronicling and summing up our family's homeschooling journey, something I've written a lot about on this blog.

I was homeschooled for a year in high school in a very intense academic way. I was so turned off by the idea of homeschooling and never would have done the same if not for the inspiration from my friend Avivah, who homeschooled all of her 11 children at some point or another. I was so enamored by the way she was raising her children and the positive effects homeschooling had on her family that, when I eventually decided to homeschool my children, I was very excited by the prospects.

Originally I got into homeschooling because of the lack of what I felt were suitable schooling options in my area for our family, but the more I learned about it, the more I cherished being able to teach a child in a way that is suitable to their unique nature, to specialize their schooling for them. I also got excited about the concept of unschooling, where you follow a kid's interest and teach them in a way that they enjoy and when they want to learn, so they retain a love of learning.

I sent my older 2 kids to school for a year when they were 6 and 4 so they could learn the local language (we live in a non English speaking country but speak English at home), and in that year, my older son, Lee, caught on to the local language and got a nice basis of it, and my younger son, Ike, didn't understand a thing. We returned to homeschooling after that, as was the plan originally, with the knowledge that that year of school had helped Lee but didn't do what we'd hoped for at all for Ike.

Because of that, we ended up pursuing an evaluation for Ike and a little while later, he ended up getting diagnosed as having autism. With that diagnosis, we decided to send him to a special ed school for kids with autism, where he gets so many therapies throughout the day. Though in theory I like homeschooling, I knew that with other children and without a car and limited time during the day, I wouldn't be able to take him to the therapies that would benefit him if he was homeschooled, and sending him to school would serve him best. I have been very happy with that decision, and this school year is his third in the same school, and as each year passes, I see how much it was the right decision, how much he's blossoming in that environment. (And yes, he's now fluent in the local language.)

Lee, however, remained at home and was blossoming. He's extremely talented in art and by being at home he had the time to invest in many drawing classes (mainly via Udemy that I bought on sale). Because of unschooling I mainly chose to teach him in his favorite format, via educational videos. And he spent a lot of time learning programming.

One of Lee's drawings.

His sisters, though, were honestly too much of a handful for me at home all day every day. Especially his youngest sister, Rose, recently diagnosed as having medium functioning autism. When Rose was 3 and Anneliese was 5, I sent them to school, also to learn the local language, and also because I realized that unschooling them wasn't going to work for me and our family. We found a school that we've been very happy with, and they're in their second year, with Anneliese in first grade.

Once Rose got evaluated for autism, I wanted to sign her up for an autism school like Ike attends, so she can get all the therapies she needs, but we were still waiting for paperwork, and thought we'd switch her in the middle of the school year to that school. Therefore, when Rose refused to go to the next grade up in her preschool, and insisted on staying with her with her teacher from last year, we decided to let her, so she wouldn't need that extra adjustment to a new environment, something especially difficult with kids on the spectrum. Unfortunately we're dealing with bureaucratic hassles and still haven't been able to get her into a special ed class, but we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I was homeschooling my son without legal permission. When Lee and Ike were both homeschooled, I applied to get permission to homeschool. They ended up giving permission for the first year, but for the following year they were demanding that in order to get permission to homeschooling our kids, we had to do a psychological and educational evaluation for our sons. I was really bothered by that, as I believe a parent should have a right to homeschool a child and shouldn't need to pay a lot of money for testing in order to be allowed to homeschool, especially as there is no such requirement locally to get permission to homeschool. I refused. I got Ike evaluated for autism and sent him to school, but refused to test Lee. I kept getting threats from them that I was breaking the law, homeschooling illegally, but I told them that they should just give me the permit if they don't want me homeschooling without it. We were at a stalemate.

Because of this headache with the homeschooling board, I had strongly considered sending my oldest son, Lee, to school this year. But because I know him and his special emotional, social, and educational needs, I was particular about what type of school. There were three in my general area that I was considering, but all of them refused to accept a child at his grade, without even meeting him or knowing anything about him. So we said we'd keep on homeschooling.

And then I started the divorce process. And as part of that, I've been needing to work out of the house a few days a week. And that meant that I wasn't home with Lee during some of those mornings, and I left him with a list of schoolwork to get done while I was away. At first there were two adults home during the day with him while I worked, as I had a house guest, but my house guest is no longer living here, and my husband currently is not living at home, so a few mornings a week he's been home himself. The other days of the week I am home with Lee and teaching him or I've been taking him out to a weekly homeschool get together in a nearby city.

I was being pressured again to do this evaluation for my son, but this time they agreed to pay for it, so I did it, and got the results that I knew he'd get. That he's gifted with no learning disabilities, and just struggles in picking up the local language because of his perfectionism and because his intelligence helps him understand things from context without needing to understand specific words. I was hoping that with this under my belt I'd finally be able to get this homeschooling permit, once and for all.

But unfortunately, I've been told by the authorities that I am no longer allowed to homeschool. And that since I'm not home during the day there is no way on earth that they'd give me a homeschooling permit. And that since I'm going through divorce, it really will not look good if I continue breaking the law and homeschooling him illegally.

My hands are basically tied behind my back.

And it means that I have no choice but to send Lee to school.

This isn't going to be an easy transition for Lee. There's a reason that I've kept him home until now. Because I didn't want to send to a school that wasn't right for him. And the schools that would be right for him aren't even open to accepting him.

But I've found a school that may be a halfway ok option for him. And we've had meeting after meeting with the truant officer and the school principals and the school psychologists. Lee met the kids in the school, in one of the two classes he may enter (we may or may not be holding him back a grade because of the language) and they seem really sweet and welcoming.

And I'm honestly very tearful about this.

It's one thing to send a kid to school when it is your choice.

And another to send to school because your hands are being twisted behind your back.

I'm really hoping that Lee will adapt well.

He'll probably be starting within the next few days.

Wish us luck!


  1. *hug* I was homeschooled and some my homeschooled friends transitioned into regular school at one point or another along the way. Sometimes it was because the parents thought it was best for the child, but other times it had to happen because of a divorce, a disagreement between the parents, or the teaching parent's own limitations - it's actually not uncommon to have it happen that way. And the vast majority of the time? Everything went fine! Scary at first, yes, but fine. And I have confidence that you & Lee will adapt in time too.

  2. I'm so, so sorry that you're having to go through this. We were blessed to be able to homeschool all 4 of our boys until we chose to send them to high school. I'm in my last year of homeschooling my youngest - he will head off to high school in the fall. Our state has very few rules about homeschooling, and largely leave homeschool families alone. But I have friends in other states where the rules are much more stringent, and designed to make it as difficult as possible to homeschool. It's definitely a battle in lots of places. I will pray that everything goes smoothly for your son.

  3. This must be disappointing for you, but with your current situation (working and going through divorce proceedings) Lee may be better off. It would be really hard for you to have an extra thing to juggle. Many homeschoolers send their kids to school for a bit. I hope he does well.

    The libertarian in me is angry that the government is forcing you to send him to school even though it seems you are giving him an adequate education.

    Does Lee's father still want him homeschooled? He doesn't care?

  4. You are doing amazingly well, I have nothing but the utmost admiration for you. I really wish you had more choice in this matter. But I am grateful that they new school is warm and welcoming.

  5. Oh it's so tough for you Penny. I have two gifted children and boy it is not at all easy as some thinks. Finding right school is also a difficult decision. You are doing the best you can and children are resilient. Sending positive vibes x

  6. A major lesson kids have to learn is how to get along in the world, since the real world doesn't make accommodations. Gd willing your gifted son will excel once he understands that he will benefit in the long run.

  7. That drawing! Your son has unbelievable talent. I wish you both a smooth transition. Best of luck


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