He was just finishing second grade when I realized this wasn’t going to work for him – for us. School.
After agonizing over it, battling my own worries about the choice I was contemplating, and then pushing HARD to convince both my little and big guy that there was another option, and we could do it, we very hesitantly committed to TRYING homeschool. For a little while. Until we sorted something else out - till we found a school that was a “good fit” like the one he’d attended in California.
I knew that THAT school didn’t exist though. And if it did, finding it was going to destroy his love of learning and a good bit of who he was in the process.
His California school was perfect because they knew him as well as I did, well ALMOST as well, but they certainly knew my little fantastic for who he was/is. They knew he was super easily distracted and they accommodated for it, his classmates even helped accommodate for it. And he’d come home most days with lots of work he didn’t do and we’d do it together. No biggie. They also knew he was an empathic child, entirely open to (and constantly distracted by) every emotion around him, particularly when that emotion was distress. And there are lots of kids distressed in a classroom!
His new private school in Louisiana was great, but they didn’t know him/plan to accommodate who he was. They wanted us to medicate him to “help him focus,” so we tried public. But they also wanted us to medicate away who he was for the kid they wanted him to be. We refused.
I have friends who DO medicate and this isn’t about them, it’s about us. If you choose to be offended by our choice for our child, that’s on you. Medication would have ruined our child. For as many children as medication helps, I’d wager it has the potential to hurt an equal number. Our incredibly bright and creative boy has a mind that works in fantastically disjointed ways, and forcing that process into a box and constraining his thoughts would’ve been like slamming the window shut on tree limbs blowing in the breeze, and never allowing any wind to flow through and shake things up again. Just a limbless trunk left to be still and do as expected, never bending against a strong wind to test its strength and learn its true potential/limits.
So we said, "no thanks, school. Sayonara."
During our first few months, we were busy recreating school at home, as most newbie homeschoolers do. And we joined groups for P.E. and went on some field trips and so on. The options I found weren’t really fitting what I felt I wanted for our experience though. There were co-ops, some better organized than others, but they often offered things that I felt were best left as extras to do during our free time.
For the actual LEARNING, I craved integrated, multi-age opportunities taught by folks with specific expertise or a vested/committed interest in a topic. And I also didn’t want to be required to participate in any cultish type of groups that frowned upon activities they didn’t have full control over – and that was the biggest frustration I experienced. That and the cliques. You either were part of the inner circle or you were left out to scramble for scraps when it came time for field trips. It was pretty discouraging as a whole.
So I set out to make connections with local businesses and innovators and create the classes and opportunities I wanted to see, and to negotiate prices that would make these classes accessible. And I set out to create a group where everyone, regardless of any political, religious or what have you differences, felt welcome and heard and their children were excited to participate in events because they were FUN and friend-filled and consistent. A place where every new person was enthusiastically and genuinely welcomed by existing members who felt personal ownership in the group as a whole and where anything “exclusive” was 100% frowned upon. And where there weren’t fees for anything I did, because I was doing what I loved.
And as I was setting out to do all of this crazy business, in these early days of our homeschooling journey, as a part-time thing on top of my full-time job, I snapped this pic of Tadhg, my little hero who inspired me to take this insanity on in the first place – and it gave me the name: Homeschooling Heroes.
And it gave me a purpose too – a heroic task, I guess: I was determined to make homeschooling something my little guy would feel proud of, and to accomplish this by “sharing success and shattering misconceptions” about homeschooling. It wasn’t leaping tall buildings with a single bound like Superman, but close!
People have SO many misconceptions about what homeschooling is and changing that would take a gargantuan effort. And we’re just getting started. I want EVERY homeschooled kid to feel proud of saying “I’m homeschooled!” and I want people to reply with awe and admiration because they’ve seen homeschool kids succeeding and participating in the world in so many wonderful ways.
In a little over a year since I kicked Homeschooling Heroes into high gear, we have an “Unschool Board” and have begun plans to lower costs for the exceptional educational opportunities and activities we create for homeschool families, and to offer financial aid to those requiring a bit more help. And most exciting to me – we’ll soon be expanding nationwide. You’re part of a nationwide Unschool in the making!
All of this means we also needed a logo that wasn’t a photo of my little guy – one that makes all the kids in the group know this group is about THEM and to have all of them feel proud to wear it on their shirts and so on (swag coming soon!). So we now have a new logo and I’m entirely torn up about it! Haha! I’m both happy and sad and plan to keep that photo of my little guy around in different ways, and I hope you all understand the reason why when you still see it on things. Because if it wasn’t for that one little hero, you wouldn’t be reading this post. Just like you wouldn’t be involved in anything “homeschool” if it wasn’t for YOURS!
So 1,000 words to say – here’s how new logo! Hope you love it!
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