Today I sent my kids to public school:

2 years ago, my husband walked in the door at 10am on a Monday in February. He was visibly upset after learning his employer at the time had not done something that was promised & this one small act (or lack thereof) changed the course of our lives. We uprooted our family which, unbeknownst to us, actually protected one of our children from a bad situation that had been occurring. Our new home added a layer of new challenges, though I can say without a single doubt in my mind that I would do it again. Was it perfect? No. There was certainly better ways to fix our situation. Still, knowingly or unknowingly protecting my children will never be a regret. I would move our family 100 times over without batting an eye.

Last month my daughter told me she would like to go back to public school. We talked about why & I listened as she reflected on the last year. She’s been a very impressive human in all of this. I wish I could begin to explain my pride in her. She surprises me daily & I continue to learn & grow as a person in her presence.

Her feelings were valid & from the beginning of our homeschooling last year I had assured the kids that public school wasn’t going anywhere. After discussing our options Colin expressed a similar sentiment as Lily & it became clear that it was time to sharpen our focus on what these kids were wanting. With clear heads & much deliberation, we decided as a family that we would begin the process of buying a new home in a school district that met our needs.

Our single most important criteria was what the school district offered for special education. Colin struggles with fine motor skills. This causes issues with many school related activities. If you work out, your muscles are tired & your sore. It’s the same idea for Colin only it his fingers & wrists that are tired & sore. The tiny muscles in his hands need to work harder so he compensates by using his bicep. Exerting energy using the larger muscle makes his arm poop out much quicker. Once he’s had enough, he begins to distract himself. He doesn’t want to sit still & he gets pretty wiggly. Now being aware of what a good school & quality teacher support looks like, we started our search for the perfect area.

Our list of criteria had an excellent special education department at the top of the list, but we certainly had other factors that mattered. Small class sizes, ethnic diversity, focus on quality art & music programs, & a district that was well funded & supported by its community. We narrowed our search to two different areas, one had 4 out of 5 of our criteria, the other had 5 out of 5. I rooted for the one that met all of our criteria though it wasn’t looking good for us. Most of the houses we liked were gone within a day of listing & the others wOuld not suit a family of 5. We offered on a couple in the other school district & were (luckily) beat out by better offers. But on Feb 3rd we had an accepted offer on a house in the school district of our dreams.

The real work began. I contacted every one I could think of at the school district that would ensure Colin received any & all of the support he needed. In Nebraska, we have a place called PTI Nebraska. They basically give you knowledge on how to advocate for your special needs children. One phone called changed everything. I learned that I could use our pending contract to enroll the kids now which might be ideal for Colin since the school district needs 45 days to do a full MDT which includes IQ, social emotional, behavior and functional academics.

Another family meeting took place at our house & it was decided to enroll the kids now so that we had any services needed for Colin ready to go by next school year. It felt like the best move to support his desire to return to public school. Meeting some neighborhood kids before we moved into the area would be a bonus. Their enrollment went smoothly & we had a start date in place.

So why did I feel sick? My stomach was in knots. I thought about all the (what felt like to me) mistakes I’ve made thinking I was doing the best for my kids. How can I know if I’m doing the right thing? I took a really deep & thoughtful look at the past 2 years. Though I have learned a significant amount about advocating for my children, I didn’t need it until Colorado. When we got to Colorado I didn’t know what I was up against. Before Colorado, our school district and teachers didn’t need me in their face. You could feel the love & support for the kids right from the start. We were lucky.

After some much needed advice, I decided I needed to speak with their new teachers directly. Talk about having a weight lifted. I didn’t feel like I was leading my kids into a dark room with no flashlight. We had found the light switch & what sealed the deal was our school tour the very next day.

Colin’s new teacher informed me that once she heard about him she specifically requested him. *one moment while my heart explodes* We arrived at the school and immediately bumped into her. She greeted Colin with the warmest hug. She asked him if he wanted to peak in on the class & say hi. He did & off they went. I stood back & watched my shy, sweet, charming little boy greet his new class peers with a bit of hesitation & a lot of excitement. She let him know that his new classmates have been so excited to meet him. It was basically all he needed to reassure himself he could do this.

Lily’s teacher was at a meeting the day we toured. When we popped into her class we were met with a slew of girls excitedly waving & once they got the go ahead my blue haired hippy child was surrounded by girls. Giggly & excited to tell her everything she needed to know about her new school. They showed her around & I hung back with the other 5th grade teacher. We left the school that morning knowing without a doubt in our minds that we were exactly where we should be.

Today my husband & I dropped our two oldest babies off at public school. We walked them into their classrooms & took their pictures with their new teachers. We shook hands with some support teachers & gave our kids hugs & kisses & told them where we’d pick them up. We watched as they excitedly got to see their new seats & where to put their things. We left happy with our decision.


My evolution of homeschooling:

When I first experienced a homeschooled kid it was 1996. I was in my middle school chior class & she was seated next to me in the soprano section. She was kind and silly. I enjoyed talking to her and was curious why she wouldn’t join us for the rest of our classes, or why she was even in our chior class to begin with if she was homeschooled.

I went several years after this experience not thinking much else about homeschooling. It wasn’t until after I started Cosmetology school in 2013 that I interacted again with anyone who had been homeschooled. My main feeling towards these individuals were no different than any other peer at school who happened to have been public schooled. They studied hard, made friends with ease, & grew as individuals. At least I’d have to assume so because I literally saw no difference in their day to day conversations compared to anyone else. It was clear to me that homeschooling didn’t make them some anti-social weirdos who couldn’t sit in a classroom.

These students embodied you’re typical 18-19 year olds (I was an elderly 28 at the time) so I never really had a personal negative experience on homeschoolers. It was society that made me feel really weird about the subject. As my kids thrived in public school I often wondered why would you homeschool? Do your kids hang out with other kids their age? How do you know what to teach? The list goes on & I was certain at this point you had to be glutton for some sort of punishment to decide to homeschool your kids.

Then, my public school loving self met my first homeschool mom friend. I didn’t judge her, she didn’t judge me. We liked wine, argued politics, and laughed about the trials and tribulations of small business ownership. She listened while I choked back my emotions about moving from my hometown in Iowa to Colorado Springs. She gave me advice when I first entertained the idea of homeschooling while we searched for a home in a great school district in The Springs.

Ultimately, we decided to go to the public school that was within the boundaries of our rental home (I chronicled that experience here) knowing we would be changing schools once we bought our new home. After it was clear that, that plan was not working as well as we’d hoped, the thought of homeschooling trickled back into my mind. It was at this point that I finally researched the topic. Like, up all night, down one rabbit hole after another, obsessive type research. If I was going to do this, I was going to be prepared. I googled every type of homeschool question imaginable with the words ‘peer review’ attached to it & began to set our learning plan officially in motion.

I decided to reach out to my homeschooled cosmetology peers. I needed insight into how this decision would affect my kids. They were open to all my questions and freely shared their experiences as homeschoolers. Remarkably, their answers were similar in many ways & they both gave a very non-judgemental tone towards all educational options available. I felt 1) they had an overall, very positive educational experience 2) homeschooling isn’t for everyone just as much as public school isn’t for everyone 3) they intend on educating their children (slightly) differently than their parents had educated them. All in all they were grateful for their experience & wouldn’t have changed it. This was a comfort to me at the time because I felt I had no choice, I was homeschooling out of necessity.

I sit here today, much less ignorant about the homeschooling world. Nothing is wrapped up in a perfect little package. Taking a public schooled kid into a homeschooled world is not an easy task. I’m proud of us & I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to bond with my kids. I think they’re exceptionally cool & I want to allow them an equal say in the way they are educated.

I guess I’ll end this on a cliff hanger of sorts. We have some big changes on the horizon. Until next time…


Where our homeschooling journey began:

I promised myself to write one blog post a month at least. Knowing I would be delving into our decision to homeschool had me seriously procrastinating. The last couple years haven’t been exactly easy. When I reflect back, the build up to homeschooling ranks right up there with one of the most painful parts.

Lily, my oldest, has always been an exemplary student. She has loved books since infancy. Teachers love her. She’s intelligent, kind hearted, and well behaved.

Colin, my middle, started school at three for speech. He is possibly the funniest kid I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Very charming and loving towards everyone. He’s a hard worker IF he likes you. Boy did he like his speech pathologist. I’m so happy she was brought into his life. His speech quickly progressed and he formed bonds with every teacher he had in preschool and kindergarten. To this day he talks about his old school and how much he misses his teachers.

Then we moved to Colorado Springs (there’s much more to that story, but that’s for another blog post on another day.) I toyed with the idea of homeschooling initially in Colorado because I didn’t want to put them in a school just to pull them out once we finally bought a home in a good school district. Our rental wasnt in the greatest school district, but it wasn’t the worst either. I was met with a stern ‘you’ll regret that’ by some teacher friends and figured they knew best.

Lily was not excited to start at her new school but Colin was thrilled. I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling really great about the school myself. Colin had an IEP & they were not ready for him. His teacher was confused and not even slightly helpful about this. It didn’t take long for Colin to dread going. He would cry and tell me how he was getting his recesses taken away every day because he’s “stupid” & “his brain doesn’t work right.”

My day consisted of me begging him to go in the mornings, dropping him off, crying and worrying the entire day until I got to pick him back up. Heading home and pulling out all his school work and doing it with him for 10-20mins each evening. I asked the school to get him a classroom aid on multiple occasions but they said it wasn’t needed.

He was unable to write quickly & efficiently. Because of this independent learning was extremely difficult. Because of that difficulty his recesses were taken away to continue having a hard time doing that work independently. That work would be sent home uncompleted for me to do with him. I felt like I was going insane.

Day after day Colin would share his terrible experiences with me. It was wearing on him. It was wearing on all of us. He lost his love for learning at the age of 6. Cause of death: a failing system with one size fits some education. We couldn’t continue sending our kid somewhere that took his happiness away.

I pulled him from school just after Thanksgiving break 2016. Once we decided to move back home (again, a blog post for another day) it made sense to pull Lily to homeschool as well, at least until we find a home in a great school district.

I want to make it clear that I am a lover of public schools and a huge supporter of public school teachers. Up until Colins first grade teacher, I have had truly excellent relationships with every single one of my kids teachers & their school. I’ve trusted them and felt I was putting my kids in the best hands.

My family is the single most important thing to me in this world. To be very frank, the opinions of people living outside of this home do not matter when it comes to what’s best for us. Whether you’re for or against homeschooling or public schooling, this is what’s best right now. Later things may change because public school isn’t going anywhere.

You never know what the month might bring…

✌🏼Michaela Tighe

Why I left social media & regret it:

I can say with confidence that those who know me know where I stand on most things. I’m not shy when it comes to my opinion. That is why after the 2016 election I disappeared from social media. Deleting it all felt so right. Nothing was sacred. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, even Pinterest were deleted permanently. I didn’t want to see or hear about anything or anyone because I was so deeply disappointed and disgusted by many of the people that I care abouts presidential candidate choice.

Then *BOOM* life punched me in the stomach. My son was going through a terrible time. It became clear we needed to pull him out of public school & begin our crazy new homeschool life that I never saw coming. I needed to find support. Google was too informative and weeding through everything was overwhelming. I needed to know what the state requirements were. I needed *gasp* a facebook support group. After going through all the hoops to permanently delete my social media accounts, I was making a new one in the hope it would ease my worried mind. 

Boy, did it. Almost immediately I had the answers I needed. I was able to find (through direction in these Facebook groups) a like minded local homeschooling group. However, I was still plugging my nose at the thought of palletting anything my friends and family with opposing political views would or could potentially post.

So, I tried to stay low key at first. I only added like minded friends and family. I was resentful and if I’m being honest, I’m still a bit resentful. That side of me probably won’t change, but what has is my awareness of their feelings. Of their right to not only disagree with me, but of mine to still care about them & be considerate of their reasons without selling out my truth. As time continued, as I read more, as I took some deep breaths…I began to open back up. Adding more friends & family that I love unconditionally, no matter who they voted for.

Some days I’m still upset at the way my country that I dearly love is going. The difference is, I understand that these people I care so much about…they were trying to do the best that they felt they could do too. We clearly don’t agree with what the best is, does that make them bad people? No. Does it make me a bad person? No.
I’ve had Facebook since 2006. My eldest daughter was born October 2006. All those memories are not attached to my new account. Messages, pictures, videos…gone. Yes, I did upload everything from Facebook. It’s truly just not the same. I had my Instagram account since 2010. My son was born December 2009. Memories all backed up, but no ‘on this day’ reminders that have always meant so much to me. In one angry resentful swoop, *poof* – they’re gone.

If I could go back, I would suspend my accounts & just take a break from social media. I’d look internally at what is important & focus myself onto those aspects. I wouldn’t sever ties with people that I genuinely like who may never speak to me again nor understand why I cut them loose. Most importantly, I’d still have all those precious memories to share easily with you all. My family is my heart. I will never make such a silly mistake again.

My friends who know me forgave me immediately with no grief. I truly feel lucky to have these people in my life. Even if they’re politics make me crazy (and vise versa, I’m sure), it’s worth it just having their love and support in my life.