Monday, June 30, 2014

The End of our Homeschooling Journey

It's hard to put into words all the reasons I've decided to stop homeschooling. I'm very emotional thinking about it. But, weighing all the pros & cons & doing what my gut is leaning towards has lead me down the path to send my children to public school.

I have enjoyed teaching my children very much. We have made great memories & I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to school them.

But...

I'm overwhelmed. I am going in so many directions that I don't feel like I'm being the best teacher or mom my kids deserve.

My hope is that if I give up being their school teacher, I can focus more on being the mom I want to be. Maybe it's wishful thinking. Right now, though, the majority of my time is spent schooling them, cooking for them & toting them to various activities. Those are all good things & we spend most of our days together - which I like. But, I want to play games & color & build forts with them. I don't have time for the fun stuff. I've turned into Teacher Mom who's too busy to actually enjoy my kids.

After July I'm also done being a scout leader. I would like to be done teaching Sunday School, too. Although, we'll see if that works out.

Last year I had decided that if I was going to homeschool again that I would have to schedule in "me days." I put a couple days each month on the calendar, but when it came down to it I never actually got to squeeze in those me days. My me time has turned into those couple hours I'm off running a race, which over the course of this school year I've done 3 races kid free. I don't work, the kids don't go out to school & that amounts to a lot of "Mom, can I have this?" or "Mom, so & so is bugging me!" or "Mom, watch my handstands." I know very well that one day I'm going to miss that. But, I need a breather from it. And, I don't get it.

Here's a good example: I have spent well over an hour simply trying to write these last few paragraphs. I just can't get it done. I'm continually getting interrupted. Not only do I need a break once in a while, they need to figure out how to do things without needing my attention every ten minutes.

I feel horrible having to say, "not right now" so often. I can see it breaking their little heart every time. I know it's ok to say it. I just feel like I say it all the time. Sending them to school means they will be out of the house & away from me for several hours a day - certainly more hours than I would like. But, in the time they are away I can do chores around the house, run those boring errands & I won't be spending who knows how many hours getting stuff ready for school. With those changes, I'm hoping I won't need to say, "not right now," as much & our time together will become more about quality, not quantity.

Mr. T is a very smart kid, but very hard to teach. I know he can try harder than he does & I know he would if he had anybody but me teaching him. He gets irritated at me when I point out something he has done is wrong. I tell him that he is learning something new, so of course he might get it wrong. But, it doesn't help & I'm the bad guy. We just don't mesh with the teacher/mom/child combination. It breaks my heart, but it's just not working. If he gets mad at a teacher I want to be the one to help him work through it, not be the reason he's mad. When he grows up I don't want him looking back and remembering being mad at me all the time.

Princess K is smart, too, but she's not nearly at the level my boys were at the end of kindergarten. Does it matter? Probably not. But, it weighs on me. I know the reason she's not as good at reading & math as they were at this age is because I didn't work with her much in a casual, every day manner before she started kindergarten. My boys knew all their letters & sounds before stepping foot in their kindergarten classroom, so of course they picked up reading quicker. By the time she was of age to learn the alphabet, I was already homeschooling Capt. N & that took way more time than I anticipated. I just didn't have the time or want to to teach more in a day. I'm very happy with her success & how far she has come this year. But, I just feel like she could be further along had I taken the time to teach her years ago. This bothers me because if I don't have the time to teach my kindergartner like she deserves, how can I teach 3 kids, especially as they get older.

The reason I began homeschooling originally was because Capt. N all of a sudden in 2nd grade started struggling in public school. It was hard for him & the school wasn't able to figure out the problem. I was worried that my son, who had always been a curious learner, would soon start hating school & learning. I decided to try homeschooling, even though it was so far out of my comfort zone. I still believe this was the best decision I could have made. We learned that his eyes didn't track correctly & he went to vision therapy. He did that for a year, then the next year I wanted to keep him home to work on his reading skills now that his eyes were working better. Having him home these 3 years have been invaluable in getting a deeper understanding about how he learns. I never would have figured him out had he been out of the house at school every day. All that being said, I think he's ready to go back to school. I think he will still struggle a little bit, but not so much that it will deter him from accomplishing his goals.

I hate to bring this up because there is such a stigma with it. And, I certainly don't think this is an issue for homeschooler's in general. But, I must throw in the "S word" as it has been part of my decision. Socializing. Eek!

My kids are involved in so many activities that they see plenty of people. They are not socially awkward. They have friends. Unfortunately, they don't get to see their friends often. Part of me is actually ok with that. But, there are problems with it, as well. Mr. T & Princess K are very social & want to spend time with others. We live in a rural area & don't have neighbor kids. So, any time spent with friends has to be planned. Between school, activities & friends schedules, it just doesn't happen as much as it should. As important as family is & as much as I want my children to be close with each other, they also need time with friends.

This year was the first year I home schooled all 3 of my kids. Last year I debated sending them to school, but opted to try homeschooling them all to see how it goes. Part of me feels like a quitter & I have my doubts on whether this is the best decision. I know people who school far more than 3 children & it works for them. I just don't feel like it's working for us. It's too much. My house is always a mess, there's always more yard work to be done that I can't get to, I can't make home cooked meals as often as I would like, I don't feel like I'm being the best mom I'm capable of & I don't feel like they're getting that much better of an education than they would get if they went to public school. I'm giving all I've got, but it just isn't enough. Something's got to change & this is the change I've decided to make.

I'm guessing my kids going back to school will be tougher on me than them. Since becoming a mom 11+ years ago, I've always had at least one kid home with me. It's going to be a huge adjustment having all 3 of my kids gone all day. This alone brings me to tears. It's very hard to think about.

I took down the school posters & info I had on this wall. Honestly, a lot of it was falling down anyway. Frog tape just isn't meant to adhere for long periods of time. I didn't have a problem taking down the stuff. Actually, it was kind of fun. But, a couple days later I walked in the room to the big empty wall & lost it. What in the world was I thinking? Why would I send my kids off to school all day?

I still plan on doing awesome crafts with my kids & taking them fun places, so I will continue to blog about those things. Life with my kids isn't stopping, it's just changing.

2 comments:

  1. I can imagine how hard this decision was to make, and I imagine that it was even hard to write about it. I sent my son, Alex to public school for four years because I felt at the time that it was the best thing for him, so I know how hard it is. I am glad that you are not planning to give up blogging because I would certainly miss you. I am excited to see what wonderful things you and your kids will be doing together!

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    1. Thanks for the very nice comment. It was hard making the decision & hard to write. It makes it seem so real & so final. I miss my kids just thinking about sending them to school. But, I do feel like something just wasn't working for us. Maybe that's normal & I shouldn't be giving up. I just don't know. I'm excited & nervous about the new opportunities they will get to experience. I'm not getting rid of our homeschooling stuff. I'm packing it away just in case I realize homeschooling was our best option. I'm so grateful for the time we did homeschool. I'm also thankful that we have the option to try something else.

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