I homeschooled for the first time when Audric was 7. The end of 2nd grade. He was struggling with behaviors. I’m a special education teacher, and he’s a student desperately seeking to be heard and understood like anyone else. My heart wanted to be with Audric.
Being home with him 24/7 was hard. I needed help, but how? What kind of help? Maybe I didn’t need help directly, but someone to help with meal preparation, housecleaning, dog walking, even changing the cat litter. Or maybe watching Audric was what I needed, so I could go do a check-up with the doctor and dentist.
When he returned to public school as a rising 5th grader, I felt comfortable with Mrs. Casey. She seemed healthy, happy, and not burned out. It’s hard to find good teachers, and they make such a difference with behaviors. For me, Mrs. Casey talked to me, sometimes proactively and initiated concerns, feedback, strategies and ideas. I felt safe and less stressed knowing Audric was in her class. It’s funny, but Audric in Mrs. Casey’s class wasn’t really about him, it was about me. Special needs parents need to feel that their child is safe, happy, comfortable, cared for.
Audric seemed fine with Mrs. Casey, other students and teacher assistants. He’s non-verbal, so if he was being bullied by a teacher or another student, there’s no way he could communicate that to me. And all parents want their child to be safe, loved, and welcomed.
Middle school was a different experience. He stayed with his father during the school week. I picked him up every Friday from school. We spent the weekend together. This gave me a chance to talk to the teachers and catch some community trips. It wasn’t ever okay, but his father was adamant to give middle school a try, so I went along.
I started doing body scans after Audric came home with a bruise. Audric can’t communicate how he got the bruise, so I have to ask around. It’s like solving a murder mystery round of Clue.
So we returned to homeschool and just finished 2018-2019. Two things I did differently. If you’re homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling, here are two tips I recommend:
Do work that’s fun. I left my teaching post and started waiting tables. I made the same amount of money, if not more. And I had a lot of fun. I have more energy for Audric and we spend our time together during the day, when everyone else is working. Which makes for quieter trips when we’re out and about.
Get support. You can’t do it alone. Trust me. I’m trying to get a group of parents together to start an Etsy page. We’ll get together once a week for a few hours and craft fun things to sell online. I don’t have family or friends in the area who will watch Audric for free or last minute, so I hired someone. It’s super duper important to have support, for you and your child. And saving to pay someone to watch Audric helps me carve time out for myself too.
Are you homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling? What is one way you carve time out for yourself? What’s something you did this past year that was fun? Leave a comment below.