Well friends, the rumors are true: my kids are going to real, live school this fall!
Yesterday was their first day!
And yes, it’s kind of exciting, and yes, it’s kind of sad, all at the same time. Because people, I’ve truly loved homeschooling. It is very much in line with both my general life values and my rebellious, tea-party-ish, Parental Rights Trump All Things attitude. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we did it again at some point, because really, who can know? There are so many great things about it.
Though not when my son writes something mean about his twin brother in his twin brother’s spelling book. However, do note the irony there. Ahem.
So why the decision to stop? For us it’s less about choosing NOT to do something, and more about choosing TO do something. And that something happens to be enrolling my kids in a new classical charter school that’s literally four minutes from my front door. Along with a number of other amazing families whom we already know. Much of the curriculum the school will use is exactly what we’ve been using at home. They can accommodate IEPs and my sons can get extra help in some areas where they struggle. (Like spelling, apparently.) The principal is fantastic. No common-core. Mandatory uniforms. Required cursive writing instruction. High structure and clear expectations. Music every single day.
And yet if it doesn’t work out and we hate it, no big deal, we’ll just go back to doing what we were doing before. My HOPE is though that each of my children will be academically challenged in new ways, and that I can take on more of an encourager/supporter role in their education, as opposed to grouchy and impatient taskmaster. I’ve always longed for my children to be classically educated, and we’ve attempted to more or less do that here, but this just seemed too good an opportunity to pass up.
**My daughters with Down syndrome are going to a local public school. And they LOVE it. My general parenting style is admittedly to say, “Go play! Go entertain yourselves!”, but they simply need more than that. They’ll have the ability to thrive and receive services in a positive environment tailored to their needs. Win-win.**
**My two littlest girlies will be home with me. Thank goodness. Lots of cuddles and laughs to be had, and maybe I can take them to Starbucks and pretend I’m one of those trendy moms with a small car and two well-groomed kids. The opportunities are endless.**
My biggest fear in all of this? That my kids will somehow lose their close sibling relationships. Seven hours is a long time to be away from home each day, and I will positively die if my two oldest daughters, three years apart but such good friends, drift away from one another. Oh.my.heart.
And if my littles aren’t buddies with the bigs any longer?
*Please excuse me while I sob uncontrollably and attempt to regain my composure.*
The transition is going well but I’m definitely feeling the loss of community. The vast majority of my online and in-real-life “mommy support” has consisted of fellow homeschoolers for the past few years, and all of a sudden I’m silently dropping out of Facebook groups and slinking away from our delightful parish co-op and it’s so, so sad. Also? There’s a handful of homeschoolers that think you’re doing something Officially Morally Objectionable when you send your children to school.
Obviously this is replete with ALL THE FEELS.
But the thing is that I have never pretended to be a homeschool-or-die, public school hater. I have never been comfortable with the portion of the homeschooling community that homeschools from a place of intense fear. I have always taken this thing one messy day at a time. For better or worse. Knowing that at any given point, if the right circumstances presented themselves, I’d be open to sending my children to a brick-and-mortar school.
And I’m really kind of thrilled about this new season. I have kids all over the map academically (some with minor and some with not-so-minor learning delays!), and I’ve been doing this homeschooling thing now for FIVE YEARS–and all of it on top of pregnancies and adoptions and heart surgeries and moves and blogging and semi-regular trips across the world. I’m ready to shake things up a little and trade some physical energy–getting kids to and from school and waking up early and packing lunches–for the mental energy of BEING 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILDREN’S ACADEMICS. Yes there will now be homework and keeping to a schedule, and I’m sure I’ll want to rip my hair out a little the first time my kid has a science fair project, but you know? I’ll gladly do it (minus the project because DO YOU REMEMBER THIS) if it means not having to think or worry about the implications of whether or not so-and-so is reading yet, or why, oh why a different so-and-so still has illegible handwriting. Because teachers!, and positive peer pressure!, while I get to be MOM.
So, that’s our big news. All kinds of mixed-up feelings, a lot of excitement, plenty of anxiety, and some real sadness. I have SO much more to say about this, and about how homeschooling “support” communities tend to function, but I will save that for later.
For now I will simply say, bring it on, school! My kids had a fabulous day yesterday, and I’m hoping for more fabulousness to come.
P.S. I reserve the right to bring my kids back home if things don’t pan out, and you don’t get to say “I told you so.”
P.P.S. If any of you homeschoolers give me the sanctimonious “Oh it’s okay, homeschooling isn’t for EVERYONE”, while fanning yourself with your collection of Charlotte Mason books and handmade Montessori tools, I am going to flip my lid. Flip.my.lid. Thank you for your concern in this regard.