Homeschool was a decision that my family made with forethought and a lot of prayer. We knew it was a direction that God was leading us, and, as I told in my article, “In the Beginning,” we had a rough start. Babygirl would not sit down and let me read to her. She had no interest in games (a great resource for getting kids to think logically and creatively). With Babygirl’s special needs, it was almost impossible to do anything with her. She wanted to independently play with her toys, and that was all. She did not want me to play with her; she just wanted to be left alone. I was worried and a little desperate after a month passed and I was seeing no progress – except that she was getting faster at running away and more stubborn in not wanting to do any type of lessons. We needed to get out of the house.
Our first trip to the library was done with a lot of dread and worry on my part. My severely ADHD daughter was very unpredictable in public, and the library was the last place I wanted a tantrum. On the other hand, we needed something different, and this was my best idea. So we went.
On the ten minute drive to our recently remodeled library, Babygirl was unusually quiet. I have since discovered that this means she is excited and is psyching herself up to be on her best behavior, though I did not know it at the time. On the way inside, and we purchased special “Friends of the Library” bags from the circulation desk for each of us. That was mostly because I did not want to have to carry a load of books and a fifty-pound screaming child at the same time if she threw a tantrum! I told her these were our special library bags. She gave me the biggest grin and wanted to carry her empty bag.
I allowed her to pick two movies and three books. This first trip followed a pattern which we used for the next several months. In the beginning, she picked only from Eric Carle’s books (because she knew them from school). She picked “The Hungry Caterpillar” many times in a row, but I was fine with that. I checked out Junie B. Jones, a chapter book series which I thought we could read together. I was right. She loved it and over the next few months, we read every Junie B. Jones book available to us. We started going every week, and Babygirl started expanding her book choices to include nonfiction books, mostly about dinosaurs because she was really interested in dragons and they were the closest she could find to real dragons.
While she initially chose movies she had seen at school and daycare, I picked movies about character or topics which she was interested in. One of my favorite movies for her was the movie, “Facing Fears, Without Freaking Out.” She seemed so afraid of everything, and I knew that needed to be faced before we could continue schooling on a healthy level. I also checked out a couple of books that were nonfiction, which I thought would also hold her interest or that would go with plans I had made for school. That movie was awesome! She requested to watch it several times that week and we even checked it out two other times in future months, per her request.
Babygirl started flipping through her books as soon as we got in the car. She wanted me to read one to her, but of course I couldn’t look at the books and drive, so I told her I would read them when we got home. We were barely in the door before she plopped the books in my chair and waited for me to put my purse and library bag down. She was so excited about reading these books that I literally started crying with joy. She looked at the tears on my cheeks strangely, but she still handed me one of the books to begin. I had her crawl in my lap, wiped away the tears, and started reading. She loved it! I felt like homeschooling had finally begun!
I wish I could say that it broke through her fears in other subjects, but it did not. Babygirl was still so unsure of her skills that she would literally start shaking if I wanted her to read a word (even one that I knew that she knew). Math and writing were just out of the question at this point. However, we had now found something that we could do together, and THAT was what we desperately needed.