Sunday

Leaving Homeschooling and Heading Back to School

I've been homeschooling my three kids for the past two years.  But, this year I will be sending my kids to Public School.  They head back in two short weeks and I think I'm finally ready for all the excitement. 

I love the idea of homeschooling.  If you've checked out the rest of my website you know that I love all things childhood education.  One of my favorite things to look at is curriculum and as my family will attest to, I have a sort of thing for office supplies.

Homeschooling and I were made for each other.  To say I wanted to make it work for my family is an understatement.  I dove in head first.

Diving in is the easy part, but it's more of a marathon than a sprint.  Excuse the cliche` analogy, but it really fits here.

Parenting is hard and in some ways homeschooling is difficult in much the same messy, learn as you go way.  I think things changed for me somewhere around a math meltdown last winter and when I turned into the tiger mother who wouldn't let my seven-year-old leave the table until he was able to accurately locate all the states and capitols on the U.S. map.

Something wasn't working in my house.  My kids were frustrated, I was turning into a Mother I never intended to be.  I was yelling and stressed out all the time.  I'm sure I wasn't fun to be around.

To top it all off I was pregnant and the thought of trying to home school and care for an infant made me feel completely overwhelmed.

I felt like a failure.  There are lots of large families in the home school community.  There are super Moms who truly do it all.  I felt myself getting smaller and smaller every day, dwarfed by the greatness of those around me.

Lots of these Moms gave me advice and encouraged me.  "Everyone has tough days" they would say.  "Don't worry you won't do much this year with the new baby, but it's just a season."  These were the main themes of the advice I got. 

Except, instead of making me feel better I only felt worse.  I felt I was dragging my kids through another year of us struggling.  I wanted more for them.

I wanted every day to be exciting and full of learning.  I wanted them to have friends and grow in their values by facing difficult things and overcoming them, but I was having a hard time creating that at home.

They were lonely.  Often coming inside crying when, after waiting all afternoon for the kids to get home from school only to find they had homework and couldn't come out and play today.  They were missing just being regular kids, and truthfully I was missing just being their Mom.

My husband and I talked about it a lot, daily in fact.  It was a major decision.  We wanted to make sure it was the right one for us.  We know that sending the kids to school won't solve all our problems.  In fact, it will inevitably create some new ones.  They might even have a tough year, or tough teacher, or worse yet trouble with peers.

We won't be there to solve their problems.  We won't be able to help them if they don't understand something they are being taught.  We won't be able to challenge them if they are bored all day.  These are the things we talked about and worried about.

Ultimately, at the end of all the talking we realized two very important things.  One, our kids were incredibly lucky to have had so much personal attention for the past two years, but it was time for them to face life's challenges. 

It's OK if they are bored, life is sometimes boring.  It's OK if their teacher is tough, sometimes in life we have bosses who are tough and knowing how to persevere is valuable.  It's OK if they trouble with their peers because life is full of difficult people and learning how deal with them is invaluable.

And two, having peace in our home is more important than our educational ideals.  I love academics.  I love to read, visit museums, and learn new things.  I will continue to do those things even when my kids are in school because that is who I am and that's what we like to do as a family.

I want my children to have more happiness and joy.  I was so busy correcting everything they did that I didn't get to step back very often and realize how great my kids actually are.

I don't know what this year will look like yet.  I don't even know what sending my kids to school is going to be like.  It won't be perfect, and some days are going to be hard, but I'm excited about cheering my kids on during this new adventure for our family.

I'll keep you posted on all our success and struggles in Kindergarten, Second grade, and Fifth grade.  It's going to be a great year!

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