Today marks an entire year since I made the decision to homeschool Ryan and it’s amazing to think just how far he has come.
Those of you who remember my post why I chose to homeschool will remember what a dark time we had been in , where I had a child that was almost broken at the age of eight, who was anxious , seriously unhappy and wouldn’t leave his bed.
A year later and he is 95% a different child, almost all of his difficult behaviour s and the violence due to pent up anger and frustration he didn’t know how to express are gone.
It’s been four months since he’s even had a meltdown, he will leave his room to join us as a family in activities or just watching TV. He even makes plans now.
It’s been s journey, one I don’t think I’d ever have braved without the support and encouragement of the amazing Facebook group Courageous Homeschooling which is filled with amazing parents from all over the world ready to offer advice and support – and I ll admit I’ve needed it.
From the what the hell have I done moments to the complete fear I don’t know what the future will bring for my beloved boy they’ve been there every step of the way.
Because not only has this been a learning journey for Ryan but surprisingly it’s been a learning journey for me too.
I had to let go of the concept that learning only takes place in a classroom, that even if it didn’t resemble school , it didn’t mean learning wasn’t taking place. And that was a difficult concept to get my head around.
I’d been so conditioned to that “normality” , I was heartbroken my son had left the “system” – one I’d left due to illness aged 15 and was adamant my children wouldn’t follow my path.
But I knew that if I left things as they were , my son would never get better, he would never heal .
I took him out and had pieces of a broken child and my first and foremost priority was to be the mother he needed , to give him space and time to heal. Learning could wait.
Not to say I didn’t have my obstacles , I was even referred to social services as soon as I deregistered him although luckily after three months they even admitted that due to his complex needs and ongoing medical treatments – homeschooling was the best option.
So, for the first five months I was not only trying to piece together a broken child, prove myself to the local authorities and even having a meeting with the LEA to ensure I was doing everything I could for my son.
It was a nightmare …. But also things were beginning to start healing quickly, Ryan’s behaviour s stopped , we enjoyed spending time together playing games, watching movies and TV shows – we even raised our own tadpoles into frogs who now happily reside in my garden pond – all thirty of them !
We had our own caterpillars turn into butterflies , we occasionally went to the park or the beach if Ryan felt up to it.
And the boy who was so sad started smiling again, laughing….
That’s not to say there haven’t been days I’ve been bored out of my brain , all my Pinterest planning , timetables went out the window.
Ryan just didn’t simply learn easily that way, he couldn’t cope with trying to recreate school at home.
And so began , cookery lessons at 3am a complete topsy turvy world which would have most people recoiling in horror if it was mentioned…what about boundaries they’d shreik ?!?
Or my complete favourite – what’s wrong with the word no ?
It’s difficult to understand unless you are living it , and even then you’re unsure 90% of the time .. but somehow we d found ourselves into radically unschooling territory.
I was and am exhausted especially as I still get up at six thirty each morning to ensure Anaïs goes to school – but the benefits and change in Ryan are undeniable.
No longer am I unable to leave the house to go shopping or having to prise him off me – so greatly disturbed that I was leaving him . We had insecure attachment issues that knew no bounds , I was even able to have a five day break alone in Portugal and he was fine with me leaving knowing I would return safe and sound. Something he couldn’t even comprehend before and I would never have attempted knowing how fragile he was.
He although still anxious goes to his medical appointment s safely , no more psychical attacks toward s me or even more worrying trying and sometimes even successfully managing to jump out of a moving car – despite child locks and adult supervision.
Life has become calmer, the household is happier and most importantly so is Ryan … I don’t mean to sound dramatic but I really believe I saved my son by doing this … That it has proved time and again this was the best path for him.
We re not yet living the journey I imagined for us but when I look at how far he has come , I know it’s only a matter of time.
So here’s a little q & a I copied from the lovely Samie Orchard from the Adventures of Big Toe and Little Toe Facebook page but filled in with my own answers to what this year has been like .. .
Is it an easy journey? No, it’s a rollercoaster
Do we have our ups and downs? Naturally
Is it stressful? Not as stressful as life was before
Does your child drive you crazy? Is the pope Catholic ?!?
Do I have a happy child? Absolutely
Is he learning? Every minute of every day
Is he socialising? Yes, he is socialising more than before just in a different way
Would you make the same decision again? Without hesitation
And here’s Ryan celebrating in bed with his homemade cake he helped bake ..for although he has progressed so much he still becomes easily exhausted and simple tasks require a lot of effort …we ll get there though I have every faith in him