Ava Grace in 2009 playing with her "School Desk"
Well here's the homeschooling post I promised. A Monday morning with contented children amusing themselves in the playroom and a decent amount of sleep last night; I feel somewhat ready to tackle the topic.
Throughout my educated life I have been a part of almost every type of school system excluding boarding school. I'm not exaggerating. I have been in the Public School system, A private Christian School, Catholic Highschool, University, Community College and Distance Education. Right in the middle of all this schooling I spent 8 years being homes chooled.... so yes I've done it all, Especially the homeschooling.
Now, as a home schooled student for most of my life right, off the bat I can say I see what the benefits were. Surely my academic education was solid and I always achieved very high marks even when I was transferred into Catholic Highschool. I took with me the tools I had been given for self-learning after honing them for some eight years in the basement and at the kitchen table.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the bucolic, nurturing home school experience that many of you had or are endeavoring to give your children today. I'm not going to go in to exposing the weaknesses of my upbringing, but I came from a home filled with a lot of struggles and although no one can distinctly point to my parent's choice to home school us as a cause for some of our family problems, the choice to not place that burden on their own shoulders may have spared them and their children a lot of stress and heartache.
So I come at the home schooling equation with a mixed boat of feelings. I think I have a very clear idea of the type of home learning I DON'T want to do and a lot of excited inspiration about what I DO want to do.
My desire to home school comes not from a disdain for the public system ( I think one of the brightest years in my childhood was in the classroom of my beloved kindergarten teacher Mrs. Jensen, fashioning volcanoes out of newspaper and making up wild stories to go with my mundane show n' tell items). Nor does my desire come solely from a religious viewpoint of wanting to tailor my children's education and upbringing to our faith (although that is part of it I suppose).
My desire comes from the fact that I am a born educator and for some reason I am filled with ideas and inspirations for the kind of education I want to give my children, the kind of family life and rhythm I want to create.
I have this idea in my head of crafts in the kitchen, intimate field trips, time spent learning in and from nature, family evenings reading aloud and giving oral reports, music (lots of music) and time for extracurricular activities and family pursuits.
The only thing is, I don't know if that is (and I have a strong suspicion it isn't) at all realistic.
The biggest fears I have are not whether I will feel burnt out (I'm sure I often will) or whether I will be able to give them a good education ( I feel confident that I can).
My biggest fears and questions are whether it is REALLY what is best for my little girl or is it me trying to remake my own (often) unhappy and (often) lonely experiences?
Can I really give my daughter what she needs?
I have a very big belief in a village raising a child and something about home schooling makes me feel that village is suddenly very small. I know as a kid, the teachers I had were some of the most influential and beloved people in my life. Already in preschool I watched my daughter fall in love with Miss Whalen and watched Miss Whalen bring out new skills and traits in my little girl.
Ava Grace is a truly social little girl and I worry about her being lonely at home with only my company and her little brother.
I've seen so many successful happy home schooling families, but there is a big difference between them and me. They have big families of lots of siblings all spaced closely together.
My two kids are almost 3 years apart and different genders and a lot of their play is pretty separate. I don't know how many children will be in our future and I'm sure the relationship between my kids will change over time, but I've got to face it... I'm not going to have the big happy brood of multiple children all filling each others social circles.
(On a side note) : Maybe part of it is just feeling intimidated in a new town but I don't even know how to go about finding other homeschooling families in our area to socialize with, we go to a church in another town and most of the kids we do know have, or will be starting regular kindergarten in the fall
Then there's the family side of things.
I'm sure I've already given my friends and family a couple queasy moments bringing up this topic and I understand their concerns about the issue too. Everyone comes to home schooling with different ideas and opinions and although I know they would and will support me to the end of the earth with whatever I choose, I feel that it would be yet another thing in a long list in my life of having to prove I can do it and do it well. I am my own worst critique for sure, but I feel the margin for error is very small. How do I gain a support group for making this HUGE decision and life style change. I feel I would be going it alone, heading into uncharted territory and have to be convincing everyone around me as I go that "everything's okay" when really that is what I would need to hear myself.
I hope some of this makes even a little sense. Most of the time these things fly around inside my head at rapid fire pace and I wish I could just make a decision and be done with it.
We've looked into ordering curriculum for the fall but I could hit the "purchase" button. We went and visited a very nice private school with a dreamy classroom,a lovely teacher and a great group of kids but I just couldn't sign the registration form.....
My daughter asks me almost every day when she will be going to school and a little piece of my heart breaks at the thought of her going and a little piece of my heart breaks at the thought of having to tell her she's not going....
I would love to hear how some of you made your decisions either way and how you've been able to answer or at least live with some of these questions along the way.
I feel like a sponge of information these days and maybe that's a bad thing to an extent. A person can reach information saturation, but any thing you can offer is greatly appreciated.
I guess we'll take each year as it comes...the problem is it's coming up way faster than I thought it would.
I need another cup of coffee.....