Homeschooling the First Year: Living with (and without) Labels


by Andy Ciordia

Before our daughter went to preschool, she had her share of little quirks. Some made us smile and reminded us that she was most certainly our daughter, others reminded us that she was unique, and others downright annoyed us. Still, those quirks were all manageable.

After a few years in school, however, those quirks became magnified and distorted. As she tried to deal with the anxiety and stress she felt, whatever problems she had multiplied as she developed newer and more severe coping mechanisms.

We soon found ourselves struggling to help her and began looking desperately for explanations for those behaviors. Sensory Integration Disorder? Asperger’s Syndrome? Anxiety Disorder? Gifted? We read books, held meetings with her pediatrician, teachers, and school counselor, and put our brains into overdrive as we tried to make sense of it all and come up with a plan.

By the end of her first grade year, we gave up our fight to find appropriate labels and instead turned to homeschooling.  Since then, I’ve learned a few interesting things about labels:

  • As the months passed and the added school anxieties disappeared, many of our daughter’s symptoms decreased in severity.
  • Now that we no longer need a label to get her needs met in a classroom, we can do what we need to do without major evaluations or piles of paperwork.
  • Instead of focusing on individual problems, we can focus on addressing her unique needs and improving her overall health and happiness.
  • Evaluations and labels still have their place. With knowledge comes confidence. Also, consulting with a professional can help you explain things to family members and friends who also interact with your child.
  • Homeschooling isn’t a one-size-fits-all band aid; however, it has afforded us more opportunities to focus on living with our issues rather than labeling them.
  • While we ditched most of the other labels, we managed to gain a new one. Homeschoolers. So far, this is one label we wear proudly and don’t plan to lose any time soon.

Michelle is a wife, mother, writer, and Cajun who prefers everything extra spicy. Follow along at Lagniappe Academy, as she and her two girls learn to live life and lose the labels.

Comments

  1. Mouseprints says:

    Excellent post. How very true! Thank you for reminding me!

  2. Agreed! Excellent post! As a former classroom teacher, homeschooling aunt, and professional tutor, I have watched for myself how the labels disappear, and life blossoms, when families choose to homeschool. It isn’t for everyone, but for those who walk the home education path, so many puzzles of life gradually seem to solve themselves.

  3. Oh this post hit close to home. My daughter is a first grader and I am planning on HSing her next school year. Her anxiety level is through the roof and has been since her first day of K. She is on her second therapist and I have had several meetings with the school. It is an awesome school, just not the right fit for my daughter. I don’t think any school would be– hence HS next year!

    Looking forward to following your blog!

  4. Your journey sounds very similiar to ours. It was such a struggle when she was attending public school that our worse day homeschooling is better than our best day at ps.

    My children have thrived.

  5. Sonita Lewis says:

    Wow-sounds almost like I could have written it! (except I have a son :D LOL)
    I used to think labels weren’t important either, almost evil in fact. But, we’ve been in the process of seeking a diagnosis for our son for a few months now and I’ve come to see that labels aren’t all bad.
    For years I’ve been harping on people accepting adults with mental illness and not stigmatizing them-they can no more help having schizophrenia or bipolar than they can help having cancer or diabetes. Why did I not view my son’s issues/label the same way?!?!?!
    You might enjoy a post I wrote for SPDBN found here http://www.spdbloggernetwork.com/2011/04/13/life-before-a-diagnosis/ that address the issue of labels a bit.
    Labeling my husband with diabetes is good thing-it means I know he needs insulin to live, he must watch his carb intake and adjust it based on his blood glucose level, it means he must have his eyes and feet checked each year. See, while it does mean I need to treat hi a bit different, it means I know what his risks are and what is helpful. That’s a good thing! It’s a good thing for our kids too!
    Those labels tell us how to treat, help, encourage our kids and what to avoid!
    Don’t be afraid of the label, you might find it brings you some freedom and peace of mind, for you and your daughter.