Chrissie Bader
If someone would have asked me only two years ago what I would be doing Fall 2015 I would have known exactly what to tell them. I was going to finally be living for me again!! Heavens, yes!! I was going to finally have the time to devote to growing my electrology practice and proper marketing, and for the first time in 11 years I was going to be able to hardcore focus on my dreams, for at least 6 hours per day. Because that's when our youngest would be old enough for Pre-K. I couldn't wait! I just knew it would be glorious.

So, what am I doing now that the long wait is finally over? I am homeschooling all three of my kids. Ha!!! I first felt called to homeschool a couple years ago when we had to pull Reagan out of Christian school and enroll her in public school at the beginning of her 4th grade year. We even went through the county to have her enrolled in one of the "better" elementary schools in our county as a transit student, which just meant that I was responsible for her transportation because the bus would not pick her up.

What a nightmare it was! The calls home almost every day about absolutely everything! The tears over math homework (thank you Common Core), the crazy lack of an actual grading system, and the lack of communication, in general, between the school and myself. At our first parent/teacher conference, the teacher assured me that Reagan was doing great and was right where they considered it average for her to be. She had been a A Honor Roll student the previous 3 years at Christian school. By the end of the first semester, they notified me that she was failing Language Arts which is her strongest subject. She would come home depressed and told me stories of other children who "hated" her and bullied her to tears. The school counselor actually called me and said Reagan was in her office too often (at least once per day) and that we should seek outside counseling.....which we were already getting!! We did therapy twice a month to monitor her ADHD medications, appointments that usually ended with an additional prescription and an increased dosage of everything else she was on. And nothing was working!!! She was not getting better, she had side effects from all the medications which they would just prescribe other meds for, she was having worse problems in school than ever before, and to top it all off, she had fallen completely off of the growth chart for her age group. I was at a completely utterly hopeless loss for what to do to help my beautiful girl who once had been the happiest, most outgoing child I had ever known.

After much praying and crying, and prayerful crying, I began to be lead to different sources of information about homeschooling. I read an eBook named Called Home that said practically everything that was in my heart about it and I decided to go for it. I turned in my notice for my job, withdrew her from public school after one especially hellish week during which I had had absolutely everything I intended to take from those people. I felt liberated and completely terrified. You have to understand, I am NOT one of "those" moms. You know the ones I'm talking about? The ones who think their kids are just the best thing since sliced bread and want to spend every waking moment planning crafts and activities that will enrich the little darlings' lives? Yep, that mom. I'm not her. Not by a long shot. I'm the mom who began counting down the days until Summer break was over and I could get rid of them again. Don't judge, there are many more where I came from. So, I was taking a huge step out of my comfort zone deciding to do this. But while I may not be "that" mom I am most definitely the mom that will always do what's best for my kids no matter how much I dislike it.

So, homeschooling it was. The first thing we did was put a stop to ALL of her medications. All of them. Then I got a bunch of books and started handing out reading assignments while I searched for a curriculum that didn't cost a million dollars. Then my grandfather died. When that happened, I decided that this idea called unschooling sounded like a nice idea for awhile. Besides, I had heard that children needed to "deschool" for about a month for every year they attended public school before beginning homeschool. I still think that may be pretty excessive for most children but to each their own. I needed to believe it at that time because I was beginning to come apart. At the same time I was trying to come to grips with the loss of my grandfather, we also bought our first home and the packing and the moving commenced. And that, as well, proved an extremely emotional period of time for me. My babies had grown up in the house we currently lived in and while I did want our own home, I had loved our rental a lot and didn't want to think about leaving all of my memories behind.

But leave, we did, and everyone adjusted well. We loved our new home and got settled in pretty quickly. But shortly after the move, the kids began talking about how they wanted to go back to school. I felt conflicted about it but reasoned that since we were in a better school district, things might be different this time. So, I got Caleb a spot in the local pre-k and enrolled Reagan in 4th grade at the new school. It ended up being the same old nightmare with Reagan and we were so fortunate she even graduated 4th grade based on testing alone because her grades wouldn't have allowed her to advance. It was all so disheartening and, honestly, devastating to think that she had gone from being considered such an incredibly bright student to a kid who was about to be held back a grade. I felt like such a horrible failure as a mother. I remember sitting on my front porch was beautiful Spring day, face in hands, bawling like a child after one particular phone call from her teacher. I felt so lost.

Over the summer, I contemplated homeschooling again but decided against it when Fall came around because Caleb was so excited to start Kindergarten and Reagan was wanting to see her friends again for 5th grade. And secretly I lacked the self-confidence to homeschool them. All of the "what if" fears haunted me and I really didn't believe I could do it without ruining my kids. So, public school it was.

The school year started out pretty rocky. With Caleb, it was a huge adjustment to long days where he was required to sit still and do seat work, no naps, and late lunches. He came home grumpy and exhausted daily. Homework was a nightmare of tears and frustration. Eventually, we stopped doing homework other than story time because I felt it was utterly ridiculous to require a Kindergartner to do homework after being in school for 7 hours. 7 hours!! With only a 15 minute recess and 30 minute lunch for a bunch of 5 year olds; I just don't comprehend the logic. (Massachusetts had half day Kindergarten with a long recess and Reagan learned to read very well by the end of the year. Why couldn't Georgia do the same?) By the Spring parent/teacher conference, the teacher was threatening to hold Caleb back in Kindergarten another year because he wasn't at the reading level required for 1st graders, even though he was ahead in math. WHAT??

The beginning of the year with Reagan was much the same as the end of the previous school year. Academically, she was struggling and behaviorally she was REALLY struggling. Constant calls home and visits with the principal and counselors, respect letters lost, and even the privilege of hall monitor was taken from her because of an outburst one day. The tide started to shift when, in October, I made a blend of essential oils for her in a roller bottle and started applying it to her every morning before she left for school and most afternoons when she would come home and do homework. The change wasn't immediate but gradual. In fact, at first I didn't know if the oils were working at all but we were desperate to find something non-medical that would help her.

By Christmas, not only did I notice a huge difference in her but everyone close to her began to notice as well. The outbursts of anger were less frequent, the depressive sobbing episodes stopped, she seemed happier and more content. She didn't bounce off the walls at home all the time and was calmer and more pleasant. Everyone began noticing these subtle changes in her. Her grades started coming up as well. By the Spring parent/teacher conference her teacher and aide, both, were asking what we were doing at home because she had made a complete 180. Not only did she pass 5th grade but she did it without anymore visits to the principal and was even given the Rising Star award at the end of year ceremony. There are only a few things I can give credit to for this miraculous turnaround; I never stopped praying for her and our situation, diligent principled chiropractic visits, and amazing essential oils. She's even back on track with the growth chart! Hallelujah!!

We started Summer with the intention that all would be going to school in the Fall but my head started swimming with thoughts of how hectic it was going to be. Caleb would be in Elementary which starts at 7:30am, Kinley would be in Pre-K across town which started at 8am, and Reagan would be in Middle School which started at 9am. And they would all have different pickup times as well. Whoa! Add to that the anxiety of Reagan starting middle school which is an entirely different monster from elementary, which we had JUST gotten acquired to with her. So, homeschool started to sound really good again. But I was absolutely terrified to commit!

I spent the whole Summer praying about the decision, discussing it with my mom, and weighing the pros and cons. I finally made my decision to go all in with homeschool about 2 weeks before the new school year was to start. So, I chose our curriculum, bought school supplies, and planned the first week out for each child in their own separate Evernote notebook. The week of orientation at school, I went to the school to withdraw both children. I was nervous about the response that I would get but they were nice about it and I was beginning to feel more and more confident about our decision each day.

So here we are! We have been officially homeschooling for 2 and a half months and things couldn't be going better!! What a tremendous blessing it has been for all of us! Honestly, once I obeyed God and followed the call I felt in my heart, everything began to fall into place. I can now see how unfounded all of my fears were. I'm so thankful to be right in the middle of His will for my family. I will post more about our homeschooling adventures in another post; this one is quite long as it is!

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