Saturday, April 7

Getting Connected Takes Time

First Day of School
After much thought, prayer and reflection, we have sent our oldest daughter, who will be 7 years old in June, back to school. She will not be homeschooled for the next 6 weeks. We found a small private Christian school here that follows the Carden Method of teaching which seems somewhat similar to the Charlotte Mason philosophy. As a 1st grade student, she started March 26, 2012 as one of 14 students in the kindergarten/1st grade class. Next year she may go again where the class is an integrated class of 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade students. I think it is a good way for her to be taught at her developmental stage, not based on her age. She can excel in her strengths and get the assistance she needs for her weaker areas. It sounds awesome in theory. We shall see how it is in practice. I think we are doing what is best for her now. So far, she loves going.
Our children have to learn to share, take turns, wait for what they want and realize that other people have needs and moods, too. We felt we were failing at providing those lessons homeschooling our oldest. This daughter of ours has some mental health issues and learning abilities that have made her a challenging child for me to parent, let alone teach. She needs structure, discipline, and role models to facilitate her learning. Our child can't expect always to have people around her who understand her or cater to her every wish.  She is beyond strong willed and like me in many ways. We seem experts at pushing each other’s buttons. She frustrates me and I frustrate her. She drains and depletes our energy as parents. Most of the time, it has little to do with homeschool. In Vegas, we had a babysitter who would come at least once a week and play and do crafts with the children while I did errands and shopping. This allowed me enough time to recharge. Now our daughter is watching too much television and doing too many video and computer games so that we can try to regroup and recharge.

When we lived in Vegas, we had a great support system that made life as parents of a challenging child manageable. She had friends she could model and I had friends that listened. We had resources that supported us as parents and homeschooling. There was a homeschool gymnastics program that was a reasonable cost. There was ballet, roller skating, ice skating, regular and consistent park days. There were field trips at least monthly, if not more. There were choices and plenty of times we could get out of the house to learn along with other students and parents. The homeschool community in Vegas is phenomenal. We didn’t realize how awesome it was until we came somewhere that is not as unified a community. There are individuals (like Elissa Wahl), churches and groups in Vegas that have made it their mission to reach out and support parents as homeschoolers. It was never easy teaching my oldest daughter as a parent, but she learned and I stayed sane. There was relative peace in the home.

There was no peace here.  Everything was becoming more and more of a struggle. Little to nothing was being accomplished. We were not functioning well as a family. We felt like failures as parents despite prayers and our best effort. Adding schooling onto being responsible and loving parents was not happening. Even with my husband being home and available to assist in anything we needed, it hadn’t gotten any better. In fact, I think it got worse.  We barely could get through a dinner devotion. 14 hours a day of trying to be patient, calm and collected while our child of chaos raged about us became too much. Tensions were high and the explosions were the only consistent things. If we didn’t have therapy (PT and psychotherapy) twice a week, I think I would be in a straight jacket.

It really isn’t about schooling so much as it is that we want to be better parents all around. We feel we cannot be the loving role models and parents our children need 24/7 with little to no breaks. Our energy was drained and depleted after just a few hours each day. Now with her being away at school we are only dealing with 4-5 hours of some chaotic behavior during the week. It has been refreshing. I deeply admire those parents who live with children with autism and other abilities. We are still trying to figure out how to do it all. We hope to be ‘good enough’ parents, helping each of our children to fully develop into the person God intended them to be.

I am still homeschooling my youngest, a kindergartner. I will be able to reach out to more homeschoolers and friends over the coming months to establish the support system we need. I'm learning again that it takes time to establish relationships in a community and having our daughter in a good school for now really helps. 

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