Thrust into homeschooling

Like living in an RV, we got thrown into the world of homeschooling.  It was never something I had considered.  We had neighbors when I was a kid who were homeschooled, but aside from that, I had very little knowledge about homeschooling.

My husband and I both adored our early education.  We both liked learning.  However, when it was time for Trevor to enter kindergarten, we both knew this was not going to work.  First, Trevor had a lot of issues cognitively.  He had trouble remembering, trouble writing, and just didn’t have the mental energy to endure a 7 hour school day.  We had a choice to send him to the nearby Montessori school (where Kylee had attended Kinder) half day, but that meant making 3 trips a day with a tube fed 3 year old who was still napping.  Just didn’t sound like something I wanted to do!  Furthermore, Trevor was sensitive to EVERYTHING.  He would have to be in a classroom free from cleaners, soaps, perfumes, food smells, PLUS all his food allergens.  It just didn’t sound fair to do that to an overworked teacher.

When we decided to educate him at home, we decided pulling Kylee out of school would fit better with our schedules.  I didn’t want to be making the back and forth trip to her school and have to adhere to her school schedule when I was wanting to take Trevor on field trips or playgroups with our homeschool group that may conflict with her schedule.

My first year was incredibly difficult.  It was 2012.  It was the fall after our first mold remediation.  We had started that remediation with Ian ripping out the bathroom walls himself, dragging moldy materials throughout the house, bleaching (GASP) the mold and putting a fan (even bigger GASP) to “dry” it.  This was all before I told him to stop, that we needed to call a professional.  By this time, however, mold just in that end of the house wasn’t the problem.  It was now EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING.  AND in the HVAC system.  So every time we turned the air on, it was spewing all these spores (mycotoxins are sticky) all over.   We didn’t understand this at this point; that our house was even more toxic than before we opened the walls.

Trevor was more difficult than ever.  Many conversations in which we discussed mental hospitals happened.  He was so needy and fussy and really unable to do most things on his own.  He was barely sleeping, even with melatonin and this just compounded the problems.  He was irritable and angry.  It was that walking on eggshells feeling.  We never knew if what we said would pass over or cause intense range lasting more than an hour.  School was next to impossible, but when I sent him to school the following year, he placed into their gifted student program and was well beyond his classmates in academics.  Sending him to school that following year caused him to fall far behind.  In fact, when he came back home, I had to pick up where I left off because they didn’t even get to the academic point where I had him when I sent him.

Weston had just gotten the feeding tube, so all that was still brand new.  And our dear Kylee, being advanced as she was, had a Montessori education-which left her far ahead and had a thirst for knowledge.  Kylee was easy to educate.  I started Trevor with K12 online school.  He was in kinder, but placed into advanced first.  Advanced first grade required around 4 hours a day.  For him, this was impossible.  And it was impossible for me.  Although he was advanced, it still required knowledge of navigating a computer and reading directions beyond his reading level.  Which made me sit with him for 4 hours a day helping him which trying to fit in time to teach Kylee and tube feed Weston, not to mention daily chores such as cleaning, laundry and cooking.  Needless to say, that didn’t last long!

After I did research and found materials that worked for him, I was happy to see that he really only needed 45 minutes of school a day!  And Kylee, in first grade, was at about an hour/hour and a half.  I still felt tremendous pressure, however, to do more.  I don’t think Ian really understood homeschooling and I felt pressure from him to do more.  Several days were SO HARD and we just didn’t “do” school.  He would ask when he got home what we did for school and I would tell him nothing.  He didn’t like this answer.  It took him a while to realize that home education progress is measured in…welll…progrees!  Not time spent “doing school.”

With this added pressure and one REALLY bad field trip (where I cried the entire 2 hour car ride home), I decided to send the kids to school the following year.  Biggest mistake.  Kylee was fine.  She had a wonderful teacher and she loves to learn.  Trevor was a different story.  His teacher, as we now know, was very abusive.  According to Trevor, his teacher cheered on a bully when he pulled Trevor to the ground and dragged him.  She would threaten him with his Epi Pen.  He was in the gifted program and he’d forget to go.  I found out she never reminded him.  And I had specifically told her he has memory issues and needs frequent reminders.  She told me he was in first grade (as if this is old enough to remember a once a week class).  At this, I told her “exactly, he’s in first grade!”  I’m sure I could go on and on.  It was terrible mixed up with terrible. 

Trevor would also come home with rashes.  I never once got a call that he had a rash, I always found out once he got home.  I’d email the teacher to ask what had happened and why was I not notified.  She never responded to emails.  So I started copying the principal.  Who also would not return emails.  At the end of the school year, they were DONE.  I was beyond upset.  And I had a long conversation with Ian about reasonable expectations for homeschooling.

When Trevor started 2nd grade and Kylee 3rd, they were back home.  We moved into the campground the end of their 2nd grade/3rd grade years.  The school serviced by the campground boundaries was a brand new highly ranked school.  Since I had to get rid of all the homeschool books TWICE (moving from mold house and then from rental) and I wasn’t sure how to go about it in an RV, we sent them to that school.  And it was wonderful!  The teachers were great, they were compliant with Trevor’s 504 Plan, everything was great.  So great that we sent them for their 3rd/4th grade years.

Soon into the school year, however, Kylee decided to come back home.  School wasn’t enough of a challenge for her.  She got into their gifted program and still attends once a week, but she is back at home.  Trevor did great.  Until after fall break.  Something happened.  I don’t know if there was a leak at the school or they were using a new chemical.  But he started falling apart mentally again.  We pulled him out and he is doing wonderful!  He’s making huge improvements!  He just started his 4th grade math book (he’s still in 3rd grade).  I feel like I’m finally on track with him!

It’s been a back and forth journey with homeschooling for sure!  But we have learned things every time we tried public school.  Overall, we’ve learned that it just doesn’t work for our family.  It works (or at least it works “enough”) for many.  Not for us.