I have always told myself that I would do what each kid needed, even if that was different for each child. This year, for a time, we had kids in both public school and homeschool. I got to experience that choice and I was surprised at how it felt. For my public school student it was a drastic change. He struggled, which made watching the transition even harder for me. There was no cheers when the bus arrived each morning for him.
One foot in each world
With having 2 different schedules to juggle, it was difficult, since each dictated the other’s freedom. Each day we had to stick to bedtime because the bus was coming early the next morning. Any homeschool outings had to be over in time to get home before the bus arrived. Our days off were dictated by the public school schedule. It made things like planning long weekend of travel difficult. Online homeschool classes didn’t get the holidays off. This meant we couldn’t take advantage of the public school days off either. We were used to taking floating holidays when life got in the way of school, and it was hard to only get the occasional day off, which wouldn’t necessarily land on a day that was convenient for everyone.
Someone was missing
Unexpectedly, I found myself experiencing a lot of grief as we transitioned Cub to school. Small things we took for granted as part of homeschool routine brought tears. At the co-op fall picnic at the park, it was true that he wasn’t with us complaining or running off. He also wasn’t there getting to run and get his energy out. When we left it felt strange when I only counted to 2 and not 3 which I took as a reminder he wasn’t enjoying the time with friends along with the rest of us. Being outdoors is like therapy for Cub and I found myself longing for him to be with us.
The sensory effects of Public School
While the adjustment to school was smoother than we expected it still had its struggles. As a child who struggles with sensory input, his school was a difficult environment for him to adjust to. Sensory needs are invisible in many ways but that doesn’t make them less real to the child experiencing it. Home was the safe space so he would release his emotions and energy after holding it together at school. Even his siblings noticed with compassion how how he changed when he was at school. It was a struggle to anticipate how his day would be and how that would effect any family plans we had after school each day. The struggle was real.
This was our first time working with this school district and they worked hard with us to have his needs met, but there were still shortfalls. As our family discussed the changed dynamic and the visible stress in our home, we looked again at our reasons for homeschooling, and they were as true as ever. A lot of days it’s not easy. With this experience behind us, I now feel a sobering reality that the “easy answer” of sending one to school seems to be a closed door. We will dig in our heals to fight the good fight and see them succeed in our “home classroom” and figure out the ways they learn best. It’s a hard job, but it’s the right decision for us.