Jimmy and I have been considering home school for Elizabeth for a while now, but everything kind of came to a head a few weeks ago when we found out that there was a pretty big issue in her school with some bullying going on. Jimmy wanted to take her out right away when it all hit the fan, but I wanted to see if there was a way to work through it and resolve it both for Elizabeth's sake and for the other student's sake.
So now, there has been a suitable solution presented, and it seems that on that front, things are going ok.
Elizabeth has been having chronic headaches and nausea. This is from a child who is NEVER sick. She has missed less than a handful of school days due to illness in her entire school career of 9+ years. In fact, it got so that I would take her out of school early on her birthday just because she NEVER got a random day off like most of the other kids do and did. Her 'illness' started pretty much at the beginning of this year, and got progressively worse until we finally figured out what was going on at the school with the other student. I thought that when that issue was resolved that she should also start to feel better due to the release of that tension, but it has not gone away. If anything, it has gotten worse...to the point that she feels sick every time after she eats and gets migraines more than once a week.
Over winter break, however, when she had 11 straight days off of school, she didn't complain about these things except a very few times, but that could be attributed to other hormonal issues, and the complaints went away relatively quickly.
She was also very peaceful and all 3 of the kids were calmer and more patient and tolerant of each other. With Elizabeth being the oldest by 9 years, I think that the little guys really look up to her and feed off her attitudes and temperament, so her kindness was rubbing off on them. She did her chores without complaining and even did extra work like washing all the windows and ceiling fans without complaining and without having to be asked more than once. The day she went back to school, though, she came home and even though she got a chance to relax and unwind for about an hour or so before the whole family converged, she was a big angry growling bear at everyone and about everything from helping wash up the little ones to feeding the cats. It was horrible!
What is it that is causing this? We found out last summer that she has allergies to both mold and dust, so maybe there is something in the school that is making her sick? But we have a lot of dust around here, and I'm sure that we have our share of mold spores of some sort since we don't use AC and very little heat, and we have pets that come in and go out. Is it a different kind of dust or mold? Or is it because they keep the blinds closed in some of her classrooms all day so there is no natural light that comes in? Is it that most of the drinking fountains don't work so she can only hydrate once a day at lunch?
If it's stress about the baby coming and thinking about being home schooled, then why did it go away over the break? If anything, I would think it would have been even MORE stressful because she was with us all day, every day. She and Jo came with us to work every day and Elizabeth did homework and helped us with inventory at the shop and played with her sister and practiced her trombone every day as well as helped with dinner and dishes and all the other stuff she does around the house.
Looking at it from these angles, and especially now that I have put it into writing here, it seems like school is just a toxic environment for her. Whatever it is, there is something there, whether it be the building itself or the pressure from the other students there, something is making her sick between the time that she gets on the bus in the morning and comes home again in the afternoon.
So now, we are approaching the end of the semester, which would be an opportune time to take her out of school and start schooling her here at home. But this is ALSO the time when the baby is coming, I am quitting my job, our pay will be cut in more than half, so I really need to step up my business with Pampered Chef to help make ends meet and my in-laws will make decisions about whether they will stay here with us in the US and get jobs or whether they will move back to El Salvador. This will mean that in all of this, Jo and Gabriel will have to adjust not only to a new baby, but also to the grandparents, who have been their primary caregivers during the day, either being gone completely in another country, or being out of the house daily with work, and I will take on the responsibility of caring for 3 kids under the age of 5, one of which will be a newborn, and all of whom will be going through some pretty traumatic life changes.
Can I take on the lessons(and hormones!) of a teenager who will be going through a lot of her own stress, too? Even though Elizabeth is very bright, a self-starter and will be able to study and learn much on her own, I will still be responsible for finding what she needs to study and setting up a curriculum for her. I have never done this before! And it will be a big change for her, too, both welcoming a new sibling, leaving the only type of schooling that she has ever known, and having me be at home and not 'working' all day.
Can I pull this together and keep her on track? I know that she will be able to move at a quicker pace at home than she does at school, so it will be OK for her to 'miss' a few weeks to adjust and find herself in this, but can I find the books and set her up in time? Can we afford it? I mean, can we afford the buy the books and materials that she will need to keep her up with her level? I read the blogs of other homeschooling families and I feel like I can never do what they do. Our house is miniscule (there's 8.5 people here in a tiny cape cod!) and our resources severely limited, but does that really matter? When it comes to your children and your family, isn't it the love and the time that you share together?
And am I reading too much into it? I mean, is this 'illness' of hers a typical teenaged issue? Are we jumping the gun and reading too much into the situation because of our (mine and Jimmy's) negative highschool experiences? Are we being over protective? Is there a such thing as 'over protective' when it comes to your child?
How do we know when it's right?