Like most parents, I was nervous about my kid starting school. But when I visited our local kindergarten classroom, I felt reassured. The junior and senior kindergarten curriculum in our province was play based. He would be playing and learning. He could even bring his own books. Even though my husband and I knew that public school wouldn’t be enough for our kid for long, we thought that it would at least give us two years for me to get a career going, get debt paid off, and be in a financial position to afford something better when the time came. And at any rate, we couldn’t write it off until we had tried. Maybe Kaleb’s development would slow down, maybe he wasn’t as advanced as we thought, or maybe the school would be a miracle school and let him skip through the curriculum at his own pace. It could happen.
As it turns out, play based wasn’t enough for my kiddo. He asked me every night when he could go to “real school” and complained that they didn’t even have a periodic table. Because can you even call yourself a school if you don’t have a periodic table?
He soon grew anxious and started missing school. Every Sunday night like clock work he was coming down with a fever. He even puked a few times. I convinced myself that it was just school. He was building his immunity. And maybe that’s what it was. But I also knew that these could be warning signs, and we decided to go through with a psycho-educational assessment despite his young age. After we got the results, I cried. We weighed our options, but no one would offer acceleration. We decided to pull Kaleb out of public school in favour of homeschooling.
It has only been 3 months, but it has already proven to be the best educational decision my husband and I could have made for our son. He is happily working through a grade 3 math curriculum; and because I’m his mom and have the ability to sit with him while he works, it doesn’t matter that his handwriting is too sloppy to read. He can just tell me the answer. When he wants to figure out the electron configuration of Neon, not only do I have the time to help him figure it out but I have the ability to make it fun by spreading out his element cards into a giant periodic table. When he has a question about the Eagle Nebula I don’t have 30 other kids to take care of so I can help him google it.
It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s really difficult. It’s exhausting. And somedays I’m pretty sure we get sick of each other. But when either of us thinks about the alternative, we’re both quick to say that we love homeschooling. I rely on the internet heavily. I rely on caffeine and wine even more. Many days, I don’t have the answers. Luckily, he’s had a science tutor since he was 3 who is thankfully capable of filling in the blanks. It takes a village, and I’ve had to learn how to ask others for help. The good thing is you can’t hear the other person laughing when you ask through email!
My eyes have been opened to what learning can look like. I often used to wonder how my son learned what he did in the early days, because I never taught him anything. Yes I read to him and spoke to him and asked him questions… but I never sat down and said, “Hey kid, this is an S.” I thought that suddenly I’d be expected to do that now that we were officially homeschooling. Lucky for me though, with help from others who had already been here, I realized I can just keep doing what we’ve always been doing. Reading, talking, and asking questions.
Not only that, but I’ve realized everything is an opportunity for learning. A walk outside can spur talks about the carbon cycle or animal tracks. A trip to the art gallery can be a history or chemistry lesson. Math and geography can be taught at the grocery store. Then there’s the planetarium, museums, or even the farmer’s market. Learning doesn’t need to happen at a desk. Learning can happen in the real world.
Sometimes I can be hard on myself. I don’t have the teaching methods and skills of a trained professional. I don’t have the fancy tools that a classroom has. But sometimes, it works to our benefit. Like when we didn’t have a balance scale, but I wanted him to be able to really understand his math lesson, so we built one out of legos. What would have been a straight forward lesson in a classroom with the necessary tools became a lesson involving problem solving, creativity, and even fine motor skills. Not to mention, it became totally age appropriate and fun for a 4 year old.
Sometimes I wonder if he’ll ask to try school again. Maybe when he’s older and more mature, we’ll be able to convince someone to give him the acceleration that he needs. Or maybe he’ll want to just go half days to hang out with the neighbourhood kids. Maybe we’ll win the lottery (even though my husband says this is impossible since we don’t buy tickets) and 30k a year tuition will be pocket change. We’ll be such good donors the fancy private school will have to skip him, and give him extra time in the lab at that. All of this could change tomorrow, but for now, I can’t imagine anyone being able to give my kiddo what he’s getting at home. Unless of course they have a fully stocked science lab in which case, take my kid already okay?
I get really hung up on the right way to do things. But there’s no right way to get an education. As long as your kiddo is learning and happy, then you’ve found your right way. It might change tomorrow, but for today, try to look on the bright side. Even if it takes a glass or two of wine to get there. You’ve got this.
This post is a part of the Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop. To read other posts and articles about educational options for gifted children click here.