Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tis the Season...

to ask oneself, What will we do about school next year?

In other words, our annual will-we-or-will-we-not-homeschool-anybody-next-year debate is underway.

My 11 year old daughter is really wanting to be homeschooled, despite an abundance of friends (and the sometimes unpleasant drama that accompanies them) and activities. My 8 year old son always wants to be homeschooled.

Having one kid already through our middle school, my husband and I were already anticipating bypassing the middle school for our daughter. But, she has one more year of elementary school left, so it wasn't next year that I was planning on. Now she's given us a pretty good list of reasons why she'd rather be homeschooled and why she thinks it would be better for her. It's an impressive collection of comments and thoughts, actually. And so, here we are asking ourselves if we can do it.

For a time I liked homeschooling my kids. It was the time before I was overwhelmed with the needs of 3 babies in 3 years. Now we've had a breather of sorts for 4 years, and we're fresh out of babies here, so it stands to reason that homeschooling could just maybe be a positive thing that perhaps could somewhat resemble the ideal homeschool that lives in my imagination.

So I ask myself through most recent days, "Do I think I could do homeschooling on a day like today?" There have been a lot of tricky days lately since my husband has taken on some additional work hours. Today was nuts. (whether it was pro-school or pro-homeschool nuts, I'm not entirely sure) I had 3 kids staying home sick from school today, and I was thinking to myself how I hate the pressure of their limited number of days they can miss school, and how if I was homeschooling nobody would be missing a thing. Yeah, they might not have felt perfect, but that wouldn't stop them from listening to me read them a good book or doing their math.

If we homeschool next year it will probably just be two of the kids. (The 11 and almost 9 year olds) The younger ones still really love to go to school, all 3 of them are in speech therapy and need to continue, and I think I'm more comfortable with the idea of bringing people back home once they have the basics of reading, writing, and math down. Seems more manageable to me.

Although my recent years of homeschooling kind of went down in a blaze of...something... I guess I haven't totally given up hope. I still credit my years of homeschooling my oldest two children with our close relationship and their capable navigation of all the crud that comes their way in school and activities. I feel like having had my oldest child by my side for the first 10 years of his life was a great foundation for our relationship, for his love of learning, and for his moral development. Conversely, I am concerned about my younger children that have not had that time by my side and are now being regularly influenced by others. I know I'm not as close to the 3rd, 4th, or 5th children as I was with my first 2. (the 6th kid is getting a lot of Mom Time this year so I do feel like we're pretty close) My 4 year old son's recent introduction to various sexual information by a fellow preschooler brought this to my attention in a rather upsetting way.

Yes, we may not be able to shield them at all times. And kids learn naughty stuff even at VBS, Sunday School, and at family reunions (or homeschool activities!). I know that. So, it's not so much a knee-jerk thing about public school as it is just a wake up call that time's a-wastin', my kids are growing, and we don't get any do-overs in this life.

Would I love to spend my days with a quiet house, working on projects of my choosing, taking naps, or going out to lunch with my husband? Sure. But I'm not so sure that I'd be proud of that choice on down the line if it meant that I wasn't 100% sure it was the best choice for my kids. I know that the past year was a needed one. But if I had known it was the only semi-quiet year I would get for a long, long time....I think I would have spent it differently! Ideally I'd like one more year to get some more of my to-do list done, and to get things ordered in a way that might make me feel more ready for homeschooling again. Because, I think that ultimately we will probably go back to our original plan to homeschool, and not hop around with it year by year so much. (yes, it would still have some flex, but I think we'd like to be more in the direction of homeschool being the default rather than school being the default as it has been for 4 years now) There are just a few things that my daughter has said that make me wonder if there's more information between the lines that she's telling me, and that if I knew the rest I'd for sure want her home. Also, I can't help but wonder if I put her desire to be home off for a year, will I have missed an opening? Right now she's still young enough to like her mom...most of the time. If she turns into a snarly adolescent in the coming year, maybe she won't even want to be home any more. (not that I can't still make her do it.... I'm just wondering where her heart will be in another year)

Of course, they need a sane mother too. I'm still not sure how to reconcile all of these issues. I don't believe that there is one right answer to educational issues all the time. But, I'm always trying to be open to the voice of God, my own heart, and the needs of this family as I look at another school year.


Carmen said...

You are really smart to be taking it slow and measuring out each variable. I know you'll do the best thing.

B said...

Dolly, Ahh, the dilemma of "should I or shouldn't I" of homeschooling. My husband and I evaluate every year if we should still be homeschooling and so far, we are. Homeschooling is so good, yet there are bad spots too, but I so agree with you on how you have to take this window of opportunity to be close with them, you'll never, ever regret it! ~B

TaunaLen said...

Oh, Dolly. I remember how it feels to be where you are. We were there last year with my (step)son. I hate that word. I look at myt oldest daughter (20 years), and how quickly she pulled herself away from me, and my heart wants to shout to you "DO IT!" But I know that there are too many variables to just make a quick, emotional decision. Homeschooling works for us. It even worked for my (step)son. But he wants to go back to a classroom, and so... I am glad to see that you're listening closely before you decide. You might just also consider all the free time you'll have when your nest is empty. Everything really is about seasons - and they never come the way we planned. I can't wait to see what you decide, and my heart rejoices that you are even considering the options. So many parents don't. Whatever you decide to do, your kids will flourish under such great love. I am sure. I am praying for your decision today!


Alana said...

I suddenly find myself a homeschooling mother again these days, and next year, surprise, surprise, they will ALL be home, even my autistic daughter (her request!)

My brood is not as big as you, but I sure to hear the delimma in your head.