"I have four kids, all of whom were adopted. When our oldest started preschool, the plan was to send each of them through the public school we were zoned for. I grew up in public schools and just thought that would work best for our children as well. My husband also worked in the public school system, so it really was just assumed that all of our kids would attend.
Within a few months of our oldest starting kindergarten it became very apparent that the school was not a good fit for his particular needs. Because of our kids’ backgrounds, they each have unique needs. Things like ADHD, anxiety, and other sensory needs made it really difficult for them to thrive, so we quickly had to pivot on our plans.
For us, the final straw was when our oldest, who was six at the time, decided to run back out to the playground instead of going to class. My husband was unavailable to come and I was too far away to get to the school quickly, so they called the police. Although the police officer handled it really well, giving him a stuffed animal and calming him down, we knew that this was not sustainable.
Shortly after that, we started homeschooling our kids and have been doing so ever since. I never set out to be a homeschool mom and had to work to adjust to it. I connected quickly with a great community of other homeschool families through my church and found a lot of resources online. But any success we’ve had with homeschool has been the result of our community and determination, not any real support, funding, or inclusive practices at a legislative level.
It’s not just about funding, which would no doubt help. As a mother, I’m sad that our kids won’t get to experience things like choir or playing Oregon Trail in a computer lab or having built in therapy sessions to the school day.
Of course, we are finding alternatives to these things through our community, but it all comes with hurdles to jump over. My husband is currently coaching our homeschool basketball team, which has been really fun. But everything we do for it comes through fundraising and scrambling to find an available gym at a church or school.
My kids are currently thriving in homeschool and I’m so glad that we found something that is working for them right now. But I do wish we had more realistic options. A private school is out of the question because of cost and some of the smaller charters are difficult because there is no guarantee that all the kids will make it into the school.
For a family like ours, school choice is the difference between our kids falling through the cracks or flourishing. There are a lot of families that can do well in public schools, and I’m so glad that the teachers and administrators work so hard to care for them. But there are also students who will never do well in those schools, so I hope we can better legitimize alternative forms of education so that all of our kids can succeed in Arkansas."
Arkansas mom, nurse in the psychiatric field, and homeschool teacher of four adopted children