Two years ago we purchased land so we could build our “forever home.” One of the main deciding factors on location was the proximity to our kids school.
I thought I had this school thing figured out. Our kids have been at a wonderful charter school since Lilly started kindergarten in 2010. When our number was drawn from the lottery to get in, I felt like I won a car on the Price is Right! I have been borderline obsessed with the teachers my kids have had over the years. In fact, one of them worked for me for over a year on the photography side and is still one of my closest friends. Another teacher was like a fairytale character. I have never met anyone quite like her but she spoiled us rotten! I cried when Lilly finished that year in her class and then cried when Ellie didn’t get her as a teacher. Teachers are vital in making school a positive experience. I have always said and will always say, teaching was not my calling in life. It takes an incredible and selfless person to teach 20+ kids on a daily basis without ending up in the looney bin!
This year our luck ran out. I had a bad feeling from the get go, but against my gut, I just decided to roll with it. Everyday Ellie came home upset or in tears. She didn’t understand why her teacher always yells and is so “mean.” Coming from a 7 year old, again, against my better judgement, I brushed it off as her exaggerating the situation. Yes, I am sure her teacher is strict, but that’s good because Ellie needs that discipline. Ellie isn’t the easiest kid to teach, I get it. It wasn’t until I had been in and about the school to volunteer or visit the girls for lunch that I learned there was no exaggeration. I had a parent teacher conference towards the beginning of the year, and that is when she told me about my child having ADHD. This was all news to me. (You can see that in a previous post HERE). There were multiple instances that continued to come up throughout the year that I would just grit my teeth at. Ellie went from being at the very top of her class, 95% in the MAP testing to now in the 45% range. She was a fluent reader and had been since preschool, now, she can barely read a first grade level. Since August I have seen her confidence dwindle and her spirit disappear. I have also seen her love for school turn into hate and dread.
I am heartbroken. I will not let someone break my child.
I have had enough, I am done. So, I decided next year we would go to a new school, a Christian school I have had my eye on for the past two years. It is a university model, where the children attend campus three days a week and the other two days are spent homeschooling. I have NEVER considered myself a homeschool parent, nor have I really had the desire to be. I mean, the thought of that terrifies me to be honest.
We have gone through many of the steps to attend this school and it was time to have placement tests done. After their testing, the lady pulled me in the back to chat about how the girls did. She looked me straight in the face and said, “Ellie is depressed.” I stared right back at her completely silent. She goes on to say, “I don’t know what has happened but this child has no confidence.” My eyes start welling up with crocodile tears and I lose it. I started explaining to her some of the things that have happened this year with school and her response was to “get her out now! Ellie being there is causing more damage than good, it’s not worth it, LEAVE!” Wiping tears and snot across my face, I felt like a failure. I don’t know what to do or how to do it. At that moment, I am pretty sure the inner demons were telling me how much I sucked at life and I believed them.
After I got myself together, we left that room and I headed back out to meet the girls in the waiting room with a smile on my face. Because, as a momma, you know your job is to stay strong even in moments when you could crumble. We head to the car and I praise them on how wonderful they did on their tests and how proud I am! We head to Ben + Jerry’s to get some sherbet, because (a) ice cream is awesome and (b) it also heals hurt hearts.
I went home and I literally was numb for about three days. I didn’t say much and I really needed to absorb all the information. I talked to my mom, who I can always count on for sound advice. I spoke with my sister in law, she has homeschooled her oldest daughter and they now attend the school we plan on attending next year.
Steven and I headed to Savannah, GA this past weekend to shoot a wedding. On the way there was our quiet time to discuss the situation at hand. In that car, on the way to GA, we decided then and there, we were done. We are withdrawing Ellie from school and she will be homeschooling the last 6 weeks, starting Monday morning.
Monday morning came and we took her sister to school and waved goodbye from the carpool line. Ellie and I went back home and started setting up shop. We created a little space in my office as her desk and went to the store to get some school supplies. I had her make the list and let her pick out the things she wanted. I want to make this fun. More than anything, I want her happy-go-lucky spirit to return and her confidence to soar! Even though the thought of homeschool scares me, if there is anything I am good at, it is being organized (when I want to be) and crafty! We set her space up and she loves it! We are actually going to IKEA to find a new desk to accommodate her and her sister for next year when I will be homeschooling them both a couple days a week….but this little table will do for now.
I have found some amazing resources online to help with homeschooling. I have printed off more worksheets than I can count. We stocked up on her favorite books, Junie B Jones for our reading time. I also enrolled her at a local learning center to keep her on track and make sure we are doing everything right and she is excelling academically. She will attend the center weekly.
So for now, I will take things day by day and hour by hour and pray with every being of my body I am doing the right thing for my sweet child.
Here are some pictures from our first two days as an official homeschool tribe…
We have made it official that Izzy is our “class pet,” even if she didn’t want to cooperate with the camera.
Day 2, Tuesday, we invited our friend Lily over, another homeschooler, to do a fun science experiment. We made play dough, then volcanos.
Making volcanos is even more FUN when they make noise! Adding Pop Rocks candy to it will make it bubble, fizz and sound really cool!
After we made our cool volcano’s, we played a sight word game. I wrote a bunch of sight words on popsicle sticks with about 5 sticks reading the word, dynamite. You close your eyes, pick up a stick and read it. If you can read it, you keep it, if you can’t, you put it back. If you pick the word dynamite you have to put all your sticks back! The girls had a blast playing this game and poor Lily picked dynamite about six times.
I am thankful my job is flexible so I can be a mom first and a photographer second. I am thankful for a supportive husband and family. I am thankful for this time with Ellie to encourage confidence and happiness.
I know some days are going to be really hard, but day by day is the only way I can handle things for now, without being overwhelmed. I feel confident I made the right decision and I am kinda excited about this new adventure in life.