Am I homeschooling enough?

This question hunts me.

The truth is most days we don't reach the curriculum we have been using, Calvert.

The thing is that I'm under an excess of pressure and I just feel I'm going completely nuts, I just want to cry and hide in a dark lonely cave.

Let me tell you my story, maybe my experience is of use for someone.

22-25jun06 005

I did not plan to be this type of mom, I knew I wanted natural birth and be gentle, but that was it, I was imagining that I will be a regular single mom, working and loving my boy.

And then I start to read and read and find myself as mom, and ideas start to grow, like free breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homeschooling and even unschooling.

Acuarelas en el bosque

I reed John Holt books and felt all set.

But then I was convinced to leave my country for my parents one, and everything start to go unbalanced. It is true that here is safer than home, but I went back to be influenced by my family who won't support my choices and whose judgement I'm so vulnerable to.


At the beginning everything felt peaceful, and we start our homeschool calmly. Even when it was not the purpose, my kid had almost learned to read at the age of 3, he was interested on it. But then pressure appear and so I sent him to the kindergarten. There he spent a year, from the age of 4 to 5, he did had a good time, but teachers were unhappy with his development, they said that he would hardly learn to read and that he did not focus, even Asperger was slightly suggested.

He came out of there happy every day, but on the afternoons he would talk to me about some bullying he had lived, only that months before. I tried to address the problem, teachers said that they will take care, but didn't. Then, the lack of cooperation from my son to complete the kinder activities became more problematic to them, and they start to take away his free time and lunch time in the hope that those pressures will help him focus. I disagreed on this, saying that food should never be part of the equation on the reinforcement of any behavior, they took it lightly.

Finally I found out they were teaching my kid to pray without my permission, and when I confront this situation I was taken lightly and even received some indirect aggression.

So I talk to my son and we decided to start homeschooling and that he will stop attending that Montessori kinder.

¡¡¡¡Llegó la caja!!!

I was so afraid I had indigestion for days and even a light panic attack. My father is a PhD.D. and University teacher, so for him academics are the most important issue and my mom studied psychology and is a lawyer and she has very strong ideas on how to raise children, which don't match mines.

I told them and they have a lot of arguments against, but we start to roll and -magically- my son learned to read in the first 6 weeks of homeschooling, so for a while things were cool.

Los cinco sentidos

I thought finally we were on the other side. But then my son turned 6, and so the pressure from not only my parents but more people on my family started again, I was even stopped on the street so they could express their concern... in front of my kid.

Finally I decided I had to save some money to go back to Mexico or other environment that would be better for us, and so I asked my father if we could go live with him for a while. He accepted but decided to built and apartment on top of his house for us. I was not clear on my intentions of leaving the country (I didn't even had it clear since Mexico is getting more dangerous), so I let it be. And then we moved there.

Once we were installed my father let me know that we were welcome to live there, as long as I sent my son to school.

I didn't knew what to do. for a moment I thought to just leave to Mexico without any money and try to make it work, but when we went there for a little work-vacation (I can't ever afford vacations, what I do is to give classes in Mexico so we can have enough for our staying) I started to feel very ill, I spent many days on bed (just leaving it to teach my classes), with horrible pains on the head, diarrhea, no appetite, having half of my body numb and the certainty that I was dyeing or terrible ill and no money to see good doctor, the ones I saw said that I had anxiety (probably true).

Taller de Toallas Femeninas

So when I got back to Costa Rica, still feeling pretty crappy, I decided to just do what everybody expected from me, and sent my boy to a school. I completely dropped the ball on homeschooling for a few weeks and I have felt depress and angry ever since.

I went to see a doctor who run some tests, give no diagnose and prescribed some medicines that I took. I felt better but not all good. And then I got some homeopathic medicine that helped me better, but still I don't feel healthy, and this paralyze me, I don't feel strong enough to make my choices and be the parent I want to be, and so I feel very frustrated and I'm an angry mom, sometimes, which is terrible.

I end up taking my son for tests, so they could determinate if he had Asperger or anything, he doesn't; the report only stands that he distracts a lot when he has to work on something not of his interest, who could blame him?, don't we all? but that he needs to improve his calligraphy a lot.

So instead of doing our Calvert schooling, or more interest based projects, we are now doing uninteresting writing, in the effort he won't have such a bad time at school, instead of leaving him to have a more organic development of writing.

Every body tries to convince me that it won't be that bad, but I'm hopping some homeschooling and unschooling parents could understand how terrible this is for me.

By the way, homeschooling is not regulated here in Costa Rica, so is not legal or illegal, but some parents have been threaten of taking their kids away for not sending them to school, and people close to me has told me: "anyone can make an anonymous report to the government", which I don't know if take as a personal threat.

At the same time I'm judged by haven't graduated from University and not taking a regular job, so I had a lot of pressure on that area too, the general idea is that I sit on my house and do nothing. I do receive economical help from my dad but not from my son's father, and I live of my little two business Centro la Milpa and Simple Loving Family, that are they way I have found to stay at home and take care of my kid.

Thank you for reading this. I'm just very worry and sad.



Julie said...

Reading this just makes my heart ache for you. You might remember that my husband and I were separated for 2 yrs, before we reconciled a yr ago. So, I do know that heavy, heavy weight that trying to do what you know in your heart is best for your child alone and with little or no support. I, too, stayed home, accepted help where I could and did my best to give my children the kind of life, home with me, educated by me, that I wanted them to have, but under much criticism and scrutiny. I was/am fortunate, though, to have the loving support of my parents who believe in what I am doing as much as I do, and can only imagine how it must be for you not to.

But I know how it is, single or not, to not feel like you're doing 'enough', to be angry when you only want a peaceful home, to be tired and stressed and feel absolutely worn down and judged mercilessly. You are not alone, mama. There are not any words I could say to ease your burden, but do know you're not alone in these feelings. And here I am writing from the US and homeschooling is perfectly legal here and there is much support to be found so I want to also let you know that I think you're really a brave and strong and powerful woman for doing what you're doing for your child!!!! Keep on, mama, do what's in your heart. xoxo Julie

PS My email is thiscosylife@yahoo.com, if you ever want to talk.

La Chili said...

Thank you Julie for your kinds words, I did remember when you were struggling and my heart was with you. You know how it is, some days better than others, but I may just take you word on that, because yes, some days I do need to talk to someone who understand and shares the value of homeschooling.

Nicole Spring (Frontier Dreams) said...

Oh how I wish I was closer to sit down with you. You are so strong and amazing and such a beautiful mother!!

I agree a lot with what Julie has to say (she is so very wise).

Every little one learns at their own pace. I know this can be frustrating sometimes just because of society around us and their expectations but as hard as it is - try your best to ignore them!! You are doing so much more for your child.

I have to wake up my little ones now but I hope to be back with more to say. I just had a moment to stop by and I couldn't leave without saying something.

Please remember you are not alone and that you have our love and support!!

Anonymous said...

First of all, you need to see where your parents are coming from in their concern. In a developing country, education is the key to getting out of poverty. Their concern is that your son will not be disadvantaged. They are probably just as afraid as you are but for their own reasons. If you talk to them about your own terrors for your child and how you are convinced that you can give him better more personalized education you might all come to a closer understanding of each other. Do not lose confidence. You have a mother's instinct to protect your child and you must not let anyone interfere with that. Institutional schooling is such a recent development. Before then all the geniuses of history studied at home. Thomas Edison's teachers refused to teach him because they said he had an addled brain, so his mother kept him at home where he could become one of the greatest inventors of the modern age. In the early years all you need to emphasize for your son's learning is reading and writing and number skills and let him choose whatever else interests him. Anyone who could challenge what you are doing will be silenced if you can show those skills. There is a wonderful series of books edited by E.D. Hirsch, entitled, "What your ---Grader should know", with one for each grade in school. They give such good examples of skills to teach at each age level. If you need a book to show your academic parents that homeschooling produces good results get them "Homeschooling for Excellence" by the Colfaxes. they lived in the middle of nowhere, homeschooled, and all 4 of their sons won scholarships to Harvard - even the adopted ones!! I have 4 children and I homeschool them all. I made my own curriculum when they were in elementary school age and then we switched to a formal system when they reached highschool. My eldest is now studying a combined Business and Law degree in Sydney, my second is about to finish highschool and will pursue a career as a classical flautist. I completely share your feeling of the pressures that come with a formal system when you just want your child to be free to follow his interests. While he is young you are right to want him to enjoy days of free exploration. I would suggest that you get your parents more involved with his education themselves. Is there a way that your father could teach him a specific skill area? Can your son and he exchange little letters every week so that your son can practise writing and show his grandfather how he is progressing and build the excitement in your father for the thrill of teaching him yourselves. If you can, getting your parents more involved, rather than more alienated, could make all the difference.
Mucha suerte y abrazos de amistad