We're Just not "School" People...
It’s been a long summer. 8 weeks in, we accomplished less than I expected but we did make one major decision. After three years, three programs and three schools in two countries, we came to a conclusion: we’re just not “school” people.
It’s not that we don’t want our children to be successful learners, it’s that we want them to be eager learners and we have not been able to find a place where we are comfortable in mainstreamed schooling. We gave it our best shot. We tried it, we stuck with it, we didn’t give up (the last two times) but after a LOT of long and often heated discussions, we finally came to a decision: we are going to homeschool our children. For now.
We made the decision moths ago to keep our 4 year old at home rather than putting her in VPK (Florida’s free pre-kindergarten for all four year olds). We did the program with our eldest and honestly, it sucked. There really wasn’t anything we liked about it and the 3 hours 5 days a week was exhausting and I only know of 1 other program that offers it on a different schedule and it’s a church based program which is not ideal for our family.
There are many, many, many factors that led us to our final decision and while it wasn’t easy for either hubby or me to commit and say “ok, we’re going to do this!” (going outside of the cultural norm is freaking scary!), we live in a community where homeschool is accepted, supported and thriving and so we’re going for it and here’s the most important why:
Time. By the end of last school year, our kindergartner was a mess. Hubby was exhausted, I was frazzled, and our two littlee ones were struggling. Our family was in a bad place and it was all because of the early wake-ups, school pick-up that competed with nap time, a lack of time to play and very few positives to show for it (the only pluses I can say about the year is that we made a few great friends and our daughter learned how to read). We wanted our lives back and while summer brought us back to some form of freedom and normalcy, the thought of entering another school year and having to stick it out was too much. We want to have free time, we want to continue traveling, we want to enjoy our time together, we want our children’s lives to be happy and fulfilling and worthwhile and I did not feel the 6 hours a day spent in kindergarten gained her enough.
Trust. One thing hubby said during one of our long talks really hit me at my core. He said “I just don’t trust the system” and with my heart filling with sorrow, I simply replied “then why are we giving them the most important thing in our lives? Why are we giving them our children?” And I truly believe when you put your kids in school you are giving at least part of them away. You are giving up a large portion of who they are and who they are going to become and while I do not consider myself a control freak or a micromanager, I do want to be the one who guides where my children go and who they become. I do not believe the philosophies of education in place in our school district are of benefit to the children, I believe they are there to protect the schools and make things easier for the staff, but what do children learn from that? I want my children to be respectful towards others but I never want them to be expected to sit down and shut up, I want them to have the confidence to stand up for themselves and others if they feel it is necessary and I don’t believe this is something the current school culture values.
Happiness. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it but if it is, get the hell out! While Honeybun really enjoyed the social aspects of school, I know she did not enjoy the learning. One day a few weeks ago we were talking about whether or not we were going to continue ballet and she said “I want you to be my teacher. For ballet and school because then things would be hard all the time and I wouldn’t be so bored.” I know even in the high achieving class she was in, she spent a lot of time bored because she is such a FAST learner (I can’t say whether she’s overly bright or not but I do know once she hears or sees something she remembers and she has always understood things way beyond her years). The end of the year became a struggle as she fought going to school, fought doing homework and became generally disinterested in everything. At one point I was convinced she was suffering from real depression and I was scared to pieces about my sweet girl who would say things to me like “I just think I’m the worst person” and “sometimes I just don’t like myself at all.” She was 5 and it was not okay. But over the past few weeks she has reclaimed herself. She is joking and laughing; playing nicely with her sister; being helpful; not being overly argumentative; and is back to asking a million questions about everything! The change I’ve seen in just the past few weeks is reason enough to make a change because what it really comes down to is my children’s happiness, nothing else matters.
A much as I’ve thought about this for so long, I’m honestly not sure I ever expected to get Hubby on board with it. He is still scared out of his mind about things like how it’s going to affect their chances of going to college and how they’re going to make friends. And while it’s a big undertaking for me and I can’t say I’m not nervous, I know we’ll be fine. We’re going to do more than make it, we’re going to make it great!