Tuesday, August 28, 2012
To Homeschool or Not Homeschool-- That is my question!
This issue is VERY sensitive, I know. And people I love and care about have very strong feelings, ideas, thoughts about homeschooling. But this is just my thoughts on it, where we are at today.
I had sworn I would never homeschool. I can remember as a college student picking out the kids who were probably homeschooled because of how socially awkward they were. I was surprisingly wrong... apparently awkward kids even go to public school. BUT I was certain that the majority of homeschooled kids were awkward. And then I met some families that homeschooled, and I thought, "those kids are not really weird... but the mom is INSANE for not wanting to send them away for a few hours a day." I knew that I would be a mom with a career. I knew that I wanted my kids to go to school.
And then school time came. And the school system we were in was not great, we could not afford private school and my Anya was young. I figured, if I messed it all up, it would be OK, because there was always next year, she could still do Kindergarten when she was 4 almost 5, so we did school. And I knew not a whole lot about it, I was determined to teach her to read. I figured that was enough for a child who just turned four. I forced her for two hours a day to read with me. We did Explode the Code. And I did not realize that the eight books are supposed to last until 4th grade. SO I made her complete one book a month. By the time April came she was reading three syllable words and having to fill in crossword puzzles. I finally read the recommended use of the books and realized that we were half way through book 7 and she was 4. We put it all away for the year and called it good. And I counted it a kind of success. She could read, she knew some basic math and we had done some kind of cool projects for history. So we decided to do it again, because we were moving in a year, and why start a new school when you are getting ready to move. Then we moved, and her sister had just one year until kindergarten, so why not start them together. Then another baby came. I came up with a new reason every year to keep them home. And I loved it, not all of it, not every day. But I loved our later breakfasts, our discussions, our laughing, that if we fought, it was resolved within the hour, not eight hours later when they got home. I loved that when school was done at noon (which it almost always was) they could play together.They were kids and they could play. And they could do activities in the evening like gymnastics and AWANA, and it was OK because they had spent the whole day with me and they were not worn out. I loved the flexibility of being able to go visit family not on set vacations. I have always said we would homeschool as long as it worked for our family, and so far it was working. I know some people think I am insane like I used to about those moms who chose to stay home with their kids. And some people do not think they are cut out for it. I do not know if it is something you are cut out for or something you choose to make yourself cut out for. It is not easy, it is work and it is another one of those sanctifying things in life, like marriage and motherhood. So far it has been worth it.
BUT this year has been one of the hardest years of my life... including job loss, looking for new job, broken foot, foot surgery and moving to a brand new state. I also worked part-time this year, which was quite a change for me. Two days a week, I left their lesson plans and then just tried to catch up on the days I was home. But it was not easy. And then we moved, and I could not even imagine trying to start school. I just wanted a break. I have never not been excited at the beginning of a school year to get out the books and start fresh. David has been begging to do school when we move to Arkansas. He could not wait to start. He is only four but I thought before moving it would be great to start reading with him. But it never came, the excitement to homeschool. I considered over and over, just sending them to school. I know public schools are not bad. I went to public school. I LOVED school. So, I cried and talked to my husband and prayed (probably not enough of this one). I really just did not want to do it this year. But I kept hearing this voice in my head. I was at a conference several years ago for moms, and I went to hear a women speak on homeschooling. She said her son usually comes with her, but he couldn't because he was in college now and had something going on, but he asked her to share one thing. She said, "He asked me to tell you not to give up on us, the kids don't give up on your kids." And that was exactly what I felt like I was doing. I am tired, but does that mean I should not be a mom? I know sometimes, the best thing is to take a break. Sometimes the best thing is to step back and say, lets try something new for one year. But also sometimes the best thing is to push through, to persevere, and to not give up. Sometimes the best things take a lot of work even when they are hard.
So, last night we took a few minutes to just review why we homeschool. I homeschool because I want to keep my children safe. I want to protect them. And I know that many people will not agree that is a good reason, but I am going to disagree. Because that is my job as mom. To protect them while they are small and help them find their wings and push them when they are ready. I homeschool because I want them to have a foundation that is solid, their identity grounded in who God made them to be. I want them to be in a safe place where they can make mistakes and and fail and know that they are loved regardless. I want to protect them now while they are young and then be ready to send them off when they are ready, I am not sure when that will be and pray that God will give me wisdom to know. I do not homeschool because I am the best teacher, I question that a lo. Thankfully I am married to a very gifted teacher, who has agreed for the first time in our five years of teaching to help. He is going to take over Latin and Art and Theology. And they could not have a better teacher for those things. And I will do the things I love like curling up on the couch and reading really good books and talk about what we learned. We will do a lot of review on grammar and keep on with our math. We are going to meet with a group to do some of our history and memorization. And we are going to do some nature notebooking and spend more time outside learning about God's creation for science. And we will continue to take it one year at a time... or maybe one semester at a time this year.