Our Journey To Homeschooling started with our daughter, Samantha. She struggled with separation anxiety from as early as I can remember. Dropping her at school was a nightmare, as she would cling to me and cry. Needless to say, after the teacher had peeled her off me, I would leave briskly so that I could cry in the car and wait for the teacher to message me to let me know when Samantha had calmed down. This went on for a good two years until she eventually settled, although not completely happy.
We took the initial first step to investigating what homeschooling would look like when Samantha started mentioning that she would rather do school at home. She was now in Grade 3. I explored many options and spoke to as many people as I could to get opinions and advice. Coming from a family of teachers, it was not easy to talk about homeschooling easily, so we left it.
By the time Samantha was in Grade 5, she was dancing 6 days a week for about 18 hours or so. She was very committed to her ballet and she didn’t have much of a life because of it. She would wake up at 6am and go to school. I would fetch her with a ready-to-go packed lunch, so that she could change and eat in the car on the way to ballet. I’d drop her off and then collect her again after 6pm (sometimes 8pm), to come home, eat supper and start with homework. Samantha would go to bed around 9 or 10pm, struggle to fall asleep and the whole routine would start again the next day.
The Final Push To Journey To Homeschooling
After a year of research, my husband and I agreed that homeschooling would be a more suitable option for Samantha, so that she could have a life and enjoy her dancing without feeling stressed about all the school work, and we could actually get to see her more!
We signed up with a particular online school, and in January 2020, Samantha started Grade 8 online. We
could see the pressure and stress lift off her, she was much happier and less stressed. It hasn’t come without hiccups, but I am definitely happier that Samantha is working online now, as her schooling hasn’t been interrupted during this unsettling time of the pandemic.
Homeschooling Became A Family Decision
During 2020, our eldest son, Nathan, who was in Grade 10 at the time, was getting frustrated with his schooling system and the interrupted schooling times, due to COVID. He loves learning, but was getting bored at school with the repetition and interruptions from classmates. In primary school, I had given the teachers extension work that they could give him when he had completed his work, but unfortunately this wasn’t used. In July 2020, Nathan decided that he would also like to do the same online school as his sister, so in January 2021, he started Grade 11 online.
He is also a lot less stressed by the pressures of school. The timing of his transition was also perfect, as unbeknown to us at the time, we would be transferred to Johannesburg from Cape Town in March 2021, so this would have been very unsettling, and to change schools would have been very stressful. Nathan does not cope with change very well, but having changed to online school before moving, definitely helped him manage with the move to another province.
Our Journey To Homeschooling Our Youngest Child
Our youngest son, Levi, had an unfortunate start to school. He was eager to start school, because his cousin was at school and she loved it! He started at a play school in January 2019 when he was 3 years old. He was so brave on the first day. No tears for Levi or for mommy! Day 2 was also good, but then on day 3, the wheels came off. Levi would cry the night before saying that he didn’t want to go to school in the morning.
Putting him to sleep was incredibly difficult, getting him up and going to school was a fight. The teachers kept telling me that it was normal and it would get better soon, and that I just needed to give it time. Day after day, it only got worse. Levi’s anxiety rocketed and he turned into the most terrible child I have ever seen in my life!
He would come home and hit and kick his siblings. The tantrums turned into unending meltdowns. He would scream and shout most of the time. It was a nightmare in our house. There were about 25 children in each class, with one teacher and maybe an assistant. Levi would walk around with his hands over his ears trying to get all the crying children to stop crying.
What Were We To Do?
Something was telling me that this was way more than separation anxiety. I had experienced separation anxiety with Samantha and this was totally different. After 3 weeks, we took Levi out of school and I worked very hard to calm him and get my little boy back. This process took a good 6 weeks. We decided that we weren’t going to go through that again and that he would stay at home with me and I would educate and socialize him.
A couple of months later, Levi was desperate to attend a school again, so after much prayer and many discussions, we put him into a different play school in October 2019, with only 6 children in the class. He was very happy there and loved the teacher and her assistant, Levi made friends and took part in most of the activities. He even took part in the Christmas concert at the end of the year.
After the December holidays, Levi moved up to the next class, with a new teacher. He attached himself to this teacher very quickly. Unfortunately in March, the country was put into hard lockdown, and schools were closed. Knowing that Levi wasn’t very comfortable with change, and the fact that he still struggled with anxiety, we decided to keep him home and not send him back to school. (Just as well, as he would’ve been in and out of school for the rest of the year and it would’ve been very unsettling and stressful for him)
In October 2021, we heard that we would be moving to Jo-burg. Levi’s anxiety grew and I noticed other traits that were unusual. I took him to a play therapist and an OT specialist. He also had an assessment with a Pediatric Neurologist. The results are inconclusive and we have yet to get a proper diagnosis. Since moving to Jo-burg in April 2021, Levi has been a lot happier, although the anxiety is still there. Due to this, and Covid, we have decided to keep him at home until we have more definitive answers and are able to make a decision that will best suit him. I love teaching Levi at home and watching him grow in confidence, and he loves the one on one attention.
My conclusion, is that I probably should’ve started our journey to homeschooling a whole lot earlier, but I am also grateful for the experiences that my children had, because I might not have known where they needed help if they hadn’t been through those difficult and challenging times.
Did you enjoy Journey To Homeschooling by Joni-Lynn Goch?
Why not pop over to my HOMESCHOOL tab and read a few other stories written by moms who have made the decision to homeschool their children.
Joni-lynn Goch is a dedicated wife and mother of two teens and a preschooler. She is the “Mary Poppins” of mothers. Joni-Lynn exudes calm, joy and peace. One could call her the baby whisperer of the 21st century.
She has been a day care mother for many years, putting new moms at ease whilst they go back into the working world, leaving their babies in the care of her loving arms.
She is a talented singer, married to her teenage love, Justin. Who lovingly indulges her obsession with scrabble.
If you would like to share your journey to homeschooling, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for sharing your story Joni. It was so lovely to read.