Friday, January 13, 2012

Homeschool Week One

Week one is officially done! I have learned so much this week through quite a bit of trial and error. I have learned that Perrin really loves using legos to do addition and subtraction, but he hates using shaving cream to write words because it's "disgusting." I have learned that he rocks at math and enjoys playing educational games on the computer. I have learned that he needs to follow a very rigid schedule, but it does not have to be the same each day, so I'm able to shift subjects around based on his energy level and attention span. I have learned that he goes nuts for low crawl and crab walk races in between subjects, and that he definitely needs downtime to do whatever the hell he wants around lunchtime. I have learned many things this week, but the most important thing I have learned is that Perrin and I are a fantastic team! We are both highly anxious people, and sending him to school every day filled us both with knots in our bellies. We are both so relaxed, learning in a quiet, safe environment without judgment, ridicule, or fear. Best of all, we're having fun. When it snowed for the first time yesterday, we cut the day a little short to play in the snow for over an hour after lunch. To make up for it, we had school today while the rest of the district is out.
I honestly had a concern that I'd miss my "free time," but that time was not spent being particular productive, and I felt a bit useless. Being Perrin's teacher has given me structure and a purpose. I love putting together lesson plans for each day. I love scouring the internet for curriculum ideas and using mine and Perrin's creative spirits to come up with fun projects that we both enjoy.
Our first science/art project was inspired by the very awesome Play at Home Mom facebook group.
We froze water balloons and added salt to learn why salt melts ice, and then we added food coloring and watched it sink into the cracks. The end product was beautiful, and Perrin loved watching it slowly melt over the course of the day.
Day Two we met up with a local homeschooling co-op and met some supremely awesome people. I signed Perrin up for a weekly early reader class with a small group of about 7 kids around his age. One girl was even more obsessed with superheroes than he is, and that's pretty spectacular! We stuck around after the craft for the gym class, where he had so much fun he begged me to let him come back next week. What I love about the co-op is that it's a wide age range of kids, so he gets to learn from the older kids and help out the younger kids. We're looking forward to the monthly science club as well, where he'll learn about a topic and then take a field trip. Perrin will definitely not be in a bubble. There's way too much to do out there!
This is our classroom. Due to Perrin's ADHD and sensory issues, bouncing on a ball to do desk work has been incredibly helpful. He's totally free to bounce and fidget, and no one tells him he has to sit still. If he needs to get up and run around, he's allowed to. If he needs to take a break to tic, he's allowed to. If he wants to wear his Spiderman jammies all day, he's encouraged to do so. He is totally free to be exactly who he needs to be, and we laugh our asses off at least a dozen times each day.

So, at the end of week one, I'd call this homeschooling experiment a glowing success. Perrin is a very good student, and I'm looking forward to seeing him blossom in a classroom where he's praised for trying his best and cherished for being quirky.

I want to thank everyone who has given me so much support and encouragement. Without my friends and family cheering me on, I don't think I would feel confident that I can do this. Now I look ahead to my son's future and feel certain that he will thrive. I'm sure my inner critic will pipe in every now and then to tell me I'm inadequate or I will occasionally let someone else's criticism shake my assurance, but in the end, I know that I must listen to that quiet voice that tells me to follow my heart and everything will be okay.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We may be "accidental homeschoolers," but

that doesn't mean I'm reluctant to jump in with both feet. I welcome this new adventure with all the excitement of a new career. You see, I always wanted to be a teacher, but my social phobias and inability to tow the party line always kept me from pursuing it. That, and the idea of trying to wrangle 30 small children for six hours a day would likely have driven me all kinds of insane. But teaching my own kid, this supremely awesome kid who dances like Mick Jagger in the middle of a room without a care in the world, this badass kid whose daily uniform is either a beaten up Iron Man costume or his Spider Man pajamas, this sweet kid who tries his very best and just wants to live in a world where he can be this extraordinary force for fun. Yeah, that kid I can teach.
Am I nervous? Of course I am. I feel a tremendous amount of pressure to somehow be better than or at least equal to his special ed teacher at school. I struggle to ignore the inner critic that tries to fill my head with all kinds of damaging words of self-doubt that I'll fail him miserably, that he may one day hate me for making this choice for him, that he may one day feel he's missing out on an experience that the majority of kids go through, that he'll grow so weary of staring at my face every day that he'll beg to go back to school.
Yeah, I have a challenging road ahead of me. But  I have to believe I am capable of encouraging Perrin to be a creative, independent thinker. I had a few kind teachers who motivated me to be exactly who I am and never expected me to comform. One teacher even used me as an example of a person who "marches to the beat of her own drum." I wanted nothing more than to be left alone and allowed the freedom to thrive in an environment that accepted me. Unfortunately, I was horribly bullied and eventually learned to be invisible instead of shine.  I wish nothing more from this experiment than for my son to always want to shine.