This time last year we were several weeks into the first term of school. While most of our school aged minions were happy & adjusting well to the new school year, Jack was waist deep & sinking fast.
Drowning in negative self talk, nail biting to the point of bleeding, hair pulling, facial & upper body tics plus other anxiety related behaviour. There was sleeplessness, melt downs & mood swings, anger, tears - lots & lots of tears.
In the morning, the closer it got to leaving for school the worse he became. Once we arrived at school he was compliant enough heading in to class. I won't write that he was happy enough, because he wasn't. More accurately put, he was resigned to it. Some days were better than others for him & I could usually gauge how stressful his day was based on how quickly he melted down once we got home. Or once he got to the car.
So many days with so many tears of frustration, anger, self doubt. It was like the more he held it together at school the worse the personal fall out, or 'let go', was for him once he was in his safe space of being home.
We haven't even touched on the topic of homework.
It's actually really heart breaking recalling how internally tormented he was, how different he was back then.
Over the years I had toyed mentally with the thought of homeschooling, it's always been on my radar since Ben approached school age. However with a reasonable selection of good schools around us in the suburbs that we lived in it was never more than a thought. Until it became a very serious consideration to try help our 'Jacker-knackers' come out of the swamp he seemed stuck in.
The school was great - it wasn't them, a school transfer was not going to fix this. It was Jack. No amount of meetings, compromise or additional help in any form was going to be able to fix what we were looking at. There was just so many areas, so multi-faceted, it would be impossible to ask a teacher to accomodate so many changes. Especially when our teachers are already stretched like an over used hair-band (& often doing an incredible job teaching a stacked curriculum to twenty odd students all of varying academic levels & backgrounds.)
After several weeks of researching, talking & sleepless nights, more researching & more talking, we made the decision to homeschool Jack.
The road we've traveled so far has not been without a few speed bumps & route re-evaluations. Especially with a pregnancy thrown into the mix. We completed our first year of homeschooling when Kade was eleven weeks old. It was not always easy, particularly in the last trimester when your body is all about growing a human & your brain is all about the sleep. Then we kicked off term four with a two week old. At least I could sit & feed, or stand & rock Kade to sleep while helping Jack. But the brain haze that accompanies the detaching of the placenta & the commencement of breast engorgement...the struggle was real. My brain was trying to nurture a newborn & support a nine year old with sensory issues, anxiety & still over coming the slathering of self doubt he was beginning to see past.
But my god. The changes we began to see, even just six weeks in. That was validation & all the confirmation we needed that this was right.
The nail biting to point of bleeding & beyond began to ease, the nervous tics were dissipating, our mornings ran a lot smoother & after school was no longer filled with melt downs & homework battles.
The negative self talk-
"I can't do this"
"I'm so stupid"
"God I'm so dumb"
"God I'm so dumb"
"Everybody hates me"
we even had "I wish I wasn't born"...
*deep breaths, wipe away the tears.
I can't remember the last time Jack has spoken about himself like that.
Last year when Jack was faced with a page of work that looked daunting, there was an immediate shut down response. It took a lot of coaching, coaxing & reassurance that I was right there with him to just get him to even consider putting a pencil in his hand.
Yesterday Jack opened up one of his English workbooks we're currently working through. He looked at all the writing, all the reading & said "Mum I can't do this one, it's too hard."
I came over to have a look & said, "you know what, I really think you can do it. I know it looks like there is a lot, but I think you should give it a go. Remember all the other times you have said something was too hard & we worked through it together? Then you realised it really wasn't that hard at all? I think you should just try. See how you go."
Without any further comment, Jack put his head down & began to read. Then began to write. Ten minutes later he was finished & incredibly proud of himself. It may not sound like a lot to some, but to us it is huge. A complete contrast to seven months ago.
Each day another brick is added to his wall of self confidence, it's slowly re-building but it seems we're getting a bit faster now.
Part I can be read here