Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over

No, I'm not talking about between Theo and I.  After 14 1/2 years our honeymoon phase is still going strong!! ;)  I'm actually talking about home schooling.  You remember this post?  Did you notice the last paragraph?  I always knew that if the home schooling thing didn't work out I always had the option of putting them back in school, well that time has come.  And I know my home schooling friends who are reading this right now are probably shaking their heads and thinking I didn't give it enough time.  Well, I agree, a few months is not enough time to get your bearings on home schooling.  But when you factor in going cold turkey teaching 4 different grade levels when you haven't had any experience teaching, things can get overwhelming very quickly.  I'm going to break down my decision for you.

1.) I wasn't totally convinced that this was to be my path in life, even after I made the decision to home school.  I always had my doubts.  When I would explain home schooling to others I felt I was having to reassure myself that this is the right thing, every time.  I made my Pro's and Con's list, but what looked good on paper, I found very different when actually applying them in life.

2.) No one warned me about how expensive home schooling was going to be!!  I wanted to do this as close to free as possible, but I didn't feel comfortable without a drawn out curriculum.  I just couldn't do the 'unschooling' way, or even a relaxed way.  I felt so much pressure on myself that there is just soooooo much information out there that my kids have to learn, how am I going to cram all that stuff into our days?  And I know people say kids are sponges, just let them go and they'll learn, but unless life is about "My Little Pony", "Barbie" and MineCraft, my kids are screwed!

3.)  As I mentioned before, I have 4 grade levels that I have to teach at once.  From 6th grade down to a Kindergartener.  What is fun for a Kindergartener, the older ones scoff at.  What's good for the older ones, the Kindergartener doesn't understand.  My 1st grader doesn't even attempt to understand!  I've done the 1-on-1 teaching, but we don't have a moments peace.  My lesson is always interrupted by fighting kids tattling on one another, or another needing some help with their individual work, or Charlotte needing her shows turned on.  A 15 minute lesson took double, or triple the amount of time!

4.)  That brings up Charlotte, I feel like she is being so neglected right now.  She just gets her sippy cup and marches upstairs to watch T.V. in our bed THE WHOLE DAY while I teach the other ones downstairs.  If I try to include her, she yells, she distracts, she tries to get everyone to laugh.  I just can't have her around when I'm trying to get the work done.  I miss my baby.  I took this opportunity because I missed my kids and feared missing their childhood to school, but lately I'm missing out on my snuggle time with my last born.  Once she's grown I won't have anymore baby...period.  Now I will give her the time that I was able to give to her siblings when they were all little.

But most important, something happened to me back when I wrote that first post.  A horrific, life shattering thing that rocked my world and was a major factor in my decision to home school.  The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.  When those Kindergarteners were shot down something in my brain broke and my heart was shattered.  I have a strong sense of empathy, which isn't always fun, and I put myself in those mothers positions, I can close my eyes and be in those classrooms.  I saw the terrified looks of the children that survived, and read all the stories about the families that were affected.  Even now my chest is seizing up and I'm fighting tears.  I sank into a deep depression, and the only way I knew to cope was to over compensate the protection of my taking them out of school.  I know it may sound rash, but to a mother who had a Kindergartener in school at that time, and another one who would be a Kindergartener I just couldn't deal.  Now I feel like I'm coming out of that dark place, that my brain and heart are healing, and because of that I'm able to just trust God and let them go back to school. 

I didn't make this decision on my own, even though I made the decision to home school on my own without consulting my kids.  We had a family counsel, and I asked the kids now that they know what home school is about would they like to keep doing it, or would they like to go back to school.  It was unanimous...they all wanted to go back.  They missed their friends, their teachers, even lunch from the cafeteria.  And even though I was sad that I wasn't successful in this, I felt peace.  That peace began to grow into excitement.  Hearing my kids 'educate' Hannah in all the cool things in school is just wonderful.  She is so excited to start school and I'm glad for her.  They all get to make friends that they get to see every day, have holiday parties. (I'm still bummed Hannah missed out on her first Kindergarten Halloween party and parade at school.)  Play on the playground, be in clubs...and down the road; dances, sports, choir.  I'm so excited for them to have all these experiences, even with the bad; bullies, tests, poor grades, rejection.  I saw on a show about numbers that it doesn't matter what kind of schooling you have, whether private or public (they didn't mention homeschoolers) the most successful kids were the ones whose parents were involved in their schooling.  I may not have been able to be their full time teacher, but I am going to be right there with them in school!  I love my kids and only want the best for them.

If I were to change anything about this experience it's that I would have started when Tobie was first starting out.  Not to say that some can't, I do not recommend doing like I did, cold turkey, BAM! four different grade levels!  It really was a wonderful experience, and when everything was going right it felt like magic.  I would encourage anyone who was thinking about it to start when their kids are little and see if it's something that you want to do, then you can add kids one at a time.  And by then you'll be getting the hang of it and it won't seem like such a shock.  Someone even suggested to me to just take out one at a time, but with my kids we can't do that.  If they see one staying home they are going to whine and complain until the cows come home that they want the same treatment.  It's best for us to just level the playing field so no one can compare and complain. 

It was a neat experience, and even though I didn't make it work for the long haul, at least I can say I tried.