Beginning Homeschooling: Finding a Tribe and Building a Schoolhouse

We’re fully on board the homeschooling boat. The local preschools are either crap, really expensive or we can’t get in (despite waiting over a year). Caught between a rock and a hard place, we’re turning to ourselves. I am, after all, a trained teacher with nearly a decade of teaching experience! This should be easy, right?!

Right. No. Wrong. It’s not.

This process of figuring out ‘homeschool’ seems to me to be about finding a groove, a rhythm. It’s about the easier pieces like curriculum development fitting with the harder ones like time, forgiving myself for not being 110% perfect and present – there are very few breaks in this for me, after all. I don’t go out to a cafe with friends after a day of work, as I once did, have a cigarette, swirl the foam around my latte and talk about what the kids did that day. No. I am home. I remain at home, from a day of work at home. I wait, exhausted, till My One True Darling returns right before 9pm and pray that he’ll put the kids to bed all by himself, and that’s generally “it” so far as the unwinding, relaxing and space between my workplace and my home lies.

This process is about figuring out what to do with the kids’ very different styles: Micah with his love of structure and Moxie, who just likes to demolish it.

It’s about finding helpful websites that aren’t too crunchy and don’t depress me with their magical goodness, ones that seem helpful with easy activities to line up and integrate.

It’s about finding a tribe that we can connect with.

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Did you know that these homeschooling networks are huge?! I sure didn’t. They are all over the place. It’s incredible. They have these things called “park days” in which you gather and play, socialize. You could easily belong to more than one group, but I think it might get overwhelming – picking one,Β  maybe two, seems to make the most sense. So, you have to go to each group – more than once, in most cases – and really meet and greet. It’s more than a mom-date: it’s a mom date, parks date plus a kid (s) date.

Sometimes I cry before I go because it’s every kind of stressful for me to find the damn parks (they are all over the Bay Area, most usually at places I’ve never been to before), to hear anything once I’m there WHILE I’m trying to connect with Moms and keep an eye on the kids. The bits about disability – Moxie’s Down syndrome and my own deafness sometimes hang out around in the air like an enormous hairy pink elephant. Sometimes I call it out and sometimes I don’t.

I like the groups that make me feel relaxed enough to bring it up off the bat – HEY! Look at that there PINK ELEPHANT! Wanna ride it with me?

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Time is fluid at home. Counted more in the measure of the weight of an eyelid, in increments between naps, meals, than it is counted inΒ  hours, minutes.

I feel like I am looking through collages of jigsaw puzzles, trying to assemble pieces that fit and will make a harmonious picture. Something that is not completely weighted with me – I will crack – something that’s not too weighted on Mikey. I feel like a beginning teacher again in many ways, and the words of an early mentor reverberate in my head – words about not worrying too much about every single minute, every single worksheet or whatever; it’s really all a cycle anyway. Learning is like a spiral shell, layering upon itself.

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We swapped what would have been the chicken coop for a schoolhouse.

Painted the outside yellow, the inside with chalkboard paint

It was sure messy. And crazy-fun watching those kids with the rollers!

Moxie helped her Daddy move it

Little Man helped set up the space. It was a family affair.

Was it ever worth it.

 

There are still edges that beg to be painted and details like desks (that fit) to be worked out.

But it’s definitely a space that suits the kids.

It’s a start.

A good one.

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Meriah

is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).

She likes her coffee black and hot.


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8 Comments

  • Just remember, though it was never officially given a label, you have been educating Micah and Moxie since they were born, if not before then. I think there arise problems when suddenly we go from remembering we are their parents, there to guide them and answer the non-stop questions, to the teacher at the board (and this said by someone who does use a chalkboard for teaching). At the heart, and the heart is the most important, you are their mom. Remember that. Remember that while academics are important, you are educating their whole being. Don't let the stress of "doing school" get in the way of what you are already doing. πŸ™‚ And one last thing, something I wish I had thought of way back when (though I'm sure my ideas back then probably would have been different but none-the-less), have a good idea as to why you are homeschooling, an idea that takes you beyond just the academics. Make that your philosophy; write it down; and then make sure the tools you choose to help you on this journey and the people you choose to help you along, align with those ultimate goals. πŸ™‚

  • I LOVED seeing the new schoolhouse. Very cool! There was a time we thought about homeschooling and I found there were quite a few mums of kids with disabilities who homeschooled and had networks. Hopefully you'll find a bit more diversity in your play/park dates!

    • I would so love to connect with other homeschoolers with disabilities! I did find a Ds group on facebook for homeschooling. Not the same as in real life, but definitely encouraging!

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