I'm sure everyone has their own reasons for choosing to send their children to school, have virtual school or completely home school in general. For me, it wasn't truly my choice, it was my sons.
Before we get into that, let's start at the beginning.
Pre-K was Ryan's first introduction into "school". He wasn't at a traditional school but at the Daycare on the campus where his Grandma worked. He seemed to enjoy it. We would sneak over there and watch him play. (One good thing about working for yourself, you almost make your own schedule.) I would always ask him if he liked school and he did. He never once said he didn't want to go. By all accounts, there was nothing that made him scared of school.
Let's jump forward to kindergarten.
Ryan expressed that he didn't want to go to school. I would ask why and never got a solid reason. He was just adamant about not being there. Of course, being the mother that I am and "working" from home, sure we can learn from home. I had looked into virtual school and decided against it. I felt I could do it myself. I know I was supposed to be a teacher. I had a home daycare in 2017 so teaching was very natural to me and I honestly enjoyed it! Plus, everything that he needed to know in kindergarten was taught to him at the age of 3 so we were moving on to other things. As I look back, it was truly a blessing because Ryan is so smart and learns quickly, a traditional school could have hindered him.
What happens when fear takes over?
As our school year came to an end, I started having doubts in myself. I didn't feel like I could truly teach him what he needed to know! Kindergarten was simple but could I do 1st grade, 2nd grade or even 8th grade? I'm not that smart! There are so many things children need to learn that I didn't have to! I started to feel like I couldn't do it. I felt that Ryan was so smart and I could hinder his ability to grow educationally. So, I started looking back into virtual school! Again, he was still very adamant about not going to traditional school. I had told a friend of mine about Georgia Cyber Academy, so I went and asked how her son was enjoying it. He loved it. With that, I enrolled Ryan into the school!
A look at our time at virtual school.
During the orientation, Ryan had a wonderful time. He was singing along and having a wonderful time with the other children. I felt good about this new adventure. Classes started and he was excited about seeing "new friends". Ryan loves children, he gets that from his mother! His teacher was super nice and the lessons were simple enough. About a month and a half in, things started feeling a little overwhelming. I had recently opened a store-front location for my print shop and was getting used to "foot-traffic". Now with virtual school and my child being who he is, I had to sit with him in order for him to pay attention / do the work. He was bored. He knew all of this stuff. However, as a store front worker, I couldn't sit there when I had a customer. I couldn't sit there in general. I had work to do.
I encouraged him and told him he could do it. I would walk over and assist him when needed. However, by month 3, Ryan was sick of virtual school and honestly, I was too. I love the setup, don't get me wrong, but they would spend about 10 minutes learning and 30 minutes of self-paced work. I felt like I was back in school because I had to sit with him at the computer all day. As a business owner, I couldn't do that and as a mother I realized that Ryan was completely bored and not reaching his full potential. So we withdrew from virtual school and back to home school we went. I mean honestly I can teach for 10 minutes and let him free play for 30.
The reason he didn't want to go to traditional school.
It was around December when I asked Ryan why he didn't want to go to "real school". Finally, he gave me an answer and it shocked me! He was afraid of being bullied. I'm not talking about a little scare; this child was full blown terrified. Now mind you, he only went to Pre-K. So, I have no idea where the fear stemmed from. However, I was happy I had an answer.
The journey back to home school.
When we withdrew from GCA, we had to come up with a better routine for our work / home school life. I allowed Ryan to have a break while I came up with our routine. The virtual school had shown me that we don't have to be in school all day. We can learn what we need to learn and do activities throughout the day. I can tell you it has been a struggle coming up with the perfect routine for us. Having the store-front truly changed things. I have to juggle so many hats and I am always adding a hat to the pot. Finishing first grade was truly a test. Thankfully, we made it through.
Finding our way in second grade.
As I explored guidance into second grade, I found a lot of Facebook groups and other moms who home school. It is a little foreign in my community to home school, so it was nice to find people like me. The groups showed me and guided me through their own experiences because truly homeschooling is a learning experience for everyone. They helped ease some of the fears I had about continuing my journey.
One of the biggest things that I had to figure out was a schedule. Not only a daily routine but also a school calendar. I realized that having a storefront is difficult in itself without adding things on top of it. Ultimately, I created a calendar and schedule that has helped us a lot. Organization is a big key to success in homeschooling.
Throughout our second grade journey, I tried different free curriculums intertwined with my own lessons. It worked well for us until I had more foot traffic in my business. I have had to navigate and test many different options for my son and I. Second grade has truly been learning about what works for us. You could almost say it was our unschooling from traditional homeschool ideas!
As we enter third grade, I can say that our home school journey has been one of the best decisions my son made. I am also glad that I was able to go on this journey with him. Plus, he lets me know EVERY SINGLE DAY that he does not want to sit in a classroom for 8 hours lol. Honestly, who can blame him?
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