Hi friends! It’s been awhile, so I wanted to take a few moments and give an update on what we’ve been doing (spoiler alert: just the usual stuff. Also? My picture editor program that I have always used NOW CHARGES MONEY to save or export the image so, well, no more images from me with text on them, because I’m a relatively obscure blogger not earning enough money to make the subscription worth it. Hence the lonely, random image above. Of course I discovered all of this AFTER taking the time to resize and add the text, which has me shaking my fist in fury at this most terrible injustice. That was a dirty trick, PicMonkey!) Somehow, Christmas has come and gone, and the school year is half-over, and I’m over here all like WHERE IS THE TIME GOING? and CAN IT STOP PLEASE?
As you know, we’re homeschooling five of our kids this year. Which is going well, for the most part. In fact, I’d say nothing is going NOT well, really. My kids generally work hard, get their stuff done, and are making good progress.
Of course after having had all of my school-age kids in school for the past three years, it’s definitely been an adjustment for me. I confess I kind of miss my old routine of, when the morning hurry-up-and-get-out-the-door ends, settling in with my coffee and having a (relatively) quiet house, with the day stretching out before me. Now when I get two kids out the door and onto the bus (my daughters with Down syndrome both attend a neighborhood public school which they, and we, love very much), I have my coffee while overseeing our school day and prodding sleepy teenagers to get their math done. My older kids are able to work (somewhat) independently much of the time, but when it comes to younger elementary, it feels a bit like starting allllllll over again–didn’t I already teach second-grade math four times already?!
All told though, I am very glad we made the decision to leave the school we were at. It was definitely time for us to move on. After three years it had become apparent that it was simply not the education or learning environment I’d wanted for my children. I’m super grateful the kids are home, and I wholeheartedly recommend homeschooling to anyone who’s thinking it might be time for a change, who wants something better for their child academically, or who simply wants to bypass the many sordid dramas of middle school. My kids are having a great time and they really don’t miss school–even the more social ones–all that much. Sometimes mothers unhappy with traditional school wonder if this is something they could do, and it absolutely is. Perhaps not everyone will enjoy it, or choose to homeschool long-term, but I assure you that it is absolutely feasible, and your kids can get a good education at home.
The million dollar question when January rolls around is, of course, if we’ll continue educating the kids at home next year. (Why do we have to make these choices so early? Is that just Colorado? Sheesh!) And honestly? I don’t really know. My oldest will be starting high school, then I have a child who will be going into kindergarten, and of course there are many kids in between (along with sweet little Beatrice who spends her days marching around, demanding to “netz” (nurse), and telling people what to do.) The truth is that there are certain aspects/benefits of a classical education, particularly once you hit the logic and rhetoric phases of learning, which are less easily replicated at home (good Socratic discussion, for example, or instruction in a foreign language). And because we have, over the years, become fairly committed to the idea of a liberal arts, classical education for our kids, this is definitely a consideration. Plus I’d really kind of love my daughter to go to Kindergarten, because hello, Kindergarten is pretty cool.
And there is a (completely technology-free, which is a HUGE sticking point for me for eight million reasons) school, affiliated with Hillsdale College, that we are considering for next year (though even if we decide we want to send the kids, some of them may end up wait-listed and, in that case, homeschooled anyhow.) So, we’ll see. I’d be sad to give up the things I love about homeschooling (including the label Homeschooling Family, which I admit greatly appeals to my politically-conservative heart), but everything is such a trade off. You know? Pros and cons. Right now I like that my kids are with their siblings each day, that they’re not being negatively influenced by other kids, and that we’re not doing homework every night. I also like that I can direct what they’re learning, and that I can work on things with each child that he or she needs extra time on. On the other hand I do miss my quiet days, and there are indeed benefits to being in school. Here in Colorado there are a variety of options, but sometimes that makes the decision making harder, doesn’t it? One thing I’ve learned over the years is that kids are fairly adaptable, and continue developing and learning no matter where they are–but that a school environment can really have an impact on a child’s academic and/or social success (or failure), and I’m grateful for the freedom to educate my kids at home if I so desire.
Let’s see, what else is new? This year five of my kids have been swimming on a club team. Which is great, but the older ones have reached a fork in the road because they’re now at the age/level where they can try out for the competitive USA team. And, I don’t know if we’re really wanting to start down that path because, let’s face it, it’s a heck of a time commitment (practice four days a week, with meets all over the state.) The nice thing about swim, of course, is that all ages more or less do it together, but I’m still not totally sure we want to lose all of our weekends, together or not. Plus, there are other sports some of my kids want to try, and this would absolutely rule that out. So while I do love swim for a million reasons, it may be time for the older kids to move on from club. Sigh. Do your kids play sports? I think they’re great, and I love watching my children compete and gain skills and confidence, but it can certainly make for a bit of a crazy schedule. Plus my kids also really love just being home, playing board games, and running around outside. Unstructured family time is really important around here. So it’s all about figuring out the priorities, and a workable plan that meets both individual needs and serves the good of the family. So easy, right?
Speaking of family, recently I’ve been reflecting on how, at age thirty-six, I’ve definitely transitioned to “old mom”–when for so long I was more or less “young mom”. (I was only twenty-two when my oldest was born, and very few of my friends were married at that time, much less having children. So for awhile I was a bit younger than other moms to kids my daughter’s age. Now though, with my youngest being 18 months old, I’m older than most moms with a baby that age.) But you know what? I’m really loving being an older mom. Teenagers are turning out to be pretty fun to have around the house (also exhausting and filled with feels and attitude, of course), and it’s so much less stressful parenting the younger kids when you’ve done it a few times before. (And the teens make the little ones seem so much simpler!) I appreciate having littler ones so much more now, I think, because I see how quickly the time goes, and I want to soak it all up. Plus as I get older I think I become more comfortable with who I am, as a mother. It’s somehow easier to see the beauty, meaning, and love in family life. I’m really kind of loving it. So I am embracing this phase of life and parenting, even as I look around at several of the other moms and think, wow, I’m old.
As you know, I’ve not been writing much lately, partly due to Christmas festivities and partly due to the fact that I had a series of colds for pretty much all of December, and some of early January too. Plus we’re gearing up to have some more work done on our house, and staying fairly busy with church and homeschooling and life. As always I should probably figure out what I’m going to do with my blog and various other writing projects (and I want to get back to podcasting, too), but alas, I seem to keep procrastinating. I’m rather good at it! I haven’t yet made any official resolutions–I never really do–but I’m thinking about actually setting some simple goals for myself.
But maybe not for awhile, because procrastination.
I hope you all are well, and enjoying the new year. Feel free to hit me with what your kids are up to, if you have any good resolutions, and what you’re thinking for school and sports or extracurriculars for next year. I love hearing what you all are doing!