26 Jan 2014

Homeschooling vacancy - Qualified teachers only.

When I took on the task of homeschooling Mr Curious, I had not spent months pondering over the idea. Not even weeks. At the most, it was a few days. Although we were displeased with the way things were progressing at school and the fact that Mr Curious was not very happy, we still thought that school was where all children needed to be. When we did take the final decision, I do have to say, the enormity of the matter, did not sink in, until a few days later. The fact that I would be solely responsible of his entire education, was now dawning on me. As I had no knowledge of homeschooling, I did the sensible thing, I searched for and read about the curriculum he was supposed to follow the coming year. Needless to say, I was alarmed by the amount of subjects that had to be covered and certainly had no idea how to set about teaching these legion of subjects to a spirited and super energetic 6 year old! I was no longer sure that I had made the right choice, the choice of homeschooling.

As I was definitely not very confident in my prospective enterprise, the negative remarks I received from some well meaning benefactors with whom I shared my decision, did make matters worse for me. The demands of mothering an intense child that Mr Curiosity is, and caring for a toddler (who was still being breastfed at the time) were challenging enough, so how on earth could I have envisaged myself taking on the role of a teacher, on top of everything else? The most frequent query surely was and still is " how can you teach if you are not qualified to do so? " I actively began looking for a different school, I phoned almost all the primary schools that were within commutable distance and enquired thoroughly about the provisions that would be made available to Mr Curious if he was to attend any of those schools. I was soon infuriated. Infuriated by the fact that none of them would have the resources to meet his needs and every single person I spoke to, concurred that he will probably have a comparable experience to his past schooling!

I had joined some yahoo homeschooling groups at the time and reading through the forums, I was slowly getting a better understanding about the 'hows' of homeschooling. I had simultaneously started reading John Holt's How Children Learn and although I was still unsure of my ability to 'be the teacher', I was nevertheless prepared to give homeschooling a go. I became astounded when I started contemplating, were children after all, capable beings, with an intrinsic desire to learn and be independent? The worse scenario I could imagine was, at the end of a few months, after I have failed miserably at my job of homeschooling and my son pleads to go back to school, some people would be telling me 'I told you so!!!' The thought did not appal me as much as, the thought of my son in a few years time, now older and wiser and still the same intense child he is, but now no longer happy and healthy, but afflicted by anxiety and anger, yelling at me ' I told you so!!!!' 

The weeks and months that ensured were quite tumultuous, as Mr Curious worked through all of his pent up negative feelings, we were surely to bear the brunt of his resentment. Resentment at not being listened to. Resentment at not being understood. Resentment at not understanding others. Resentment at the sudden departure of a much beloved teacher (whom he had taken months to build a relationship with). Resentment at being made to read boring books. Resentment at being punished for hiding the only class encyclopedia under the sink, so it is not taken the following day. Resentment at being forced to sit down when his body simply did not allow him to. Resentment at being compelled to work in an overly bright and noisy classroom where even the sound of his classmates pencils scratching their papers while writing, annoyed him so much he could never concentrate. Resentment at being made to do work that did not engage him. Resentment at being made to feel weird when at the age of  five he retorted ' you can find out the age of a tree by counting the rings on a cut trunk ' during a class discussion about facts about a tree when his classmates were listing things such as 'trees have leaves, branches, roots...

The school was aplenty with duly qualified staffs, surely one of them could have taken some time to find a way of accommodating his needs. But alas it was not to be! They had not even noticed his struggles, let alone acknowledge them. In their eyes, Mr Curious was an over confident argumentative child who had a mind of his own (these qualities do not make an ideal school pupil) ......I should not forget to add, with OCD traits. Turning light switches off  ( to save electricity), tidying up the pens and pencils and tucking in the chairs ( his love of order), putting away the lunch boxes of his classmates (trying hard to be liked), were all seen as obsessive compulsive disorder characteristics. There definitely was no room for individuality. Nonetheless, at the time, these were not reasons enough to take Mr Curious out of school. NO. The breaking point came, when the teacher candidly admitted that she was not able to provide for his academic needs and that the head teacher had no interest, in allocating extra resources to a highly able student! Surely any student deserve an education that meet their needs. Needs that have been identified by a private educational psychologist. Needs that have been identified by specialist doctors.

No, I am certainly not a qualified teacher, in fact I am not a teacher at all. I am a mother. Only a mother. A mother who understands the heart of her child. A mother who despite not being a qualified teacher or health professional is trying to help her child with his struggles. A mother who can not witness the downward spiral of her own child. Like so many other homeschooling mothers, I am but, only a mother. A mother, undeterred by others' judgement, only concerned about the well being of her child. 
   For who else can truly value a child, but a parent.


  1. Those are the reasons it works! Beautiful job putting your thoughts and feelings into words!

  2. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  3. keep it up. You re a wonderful mom.