Saturday, November 24, 2012


Little L reminds me why I like homeschooling so much. I had started her in public school this fall for Kindergarten. However, she was not learning anything new. She was so tired that all she did at home was rage and fall asleep before dinnertime (and we generally try to serve dinner 5:30-6pm now that we have kids getting up at 6am for school). She was raging every morning about not wanting to get ready for school, raging every evening because she was overtired and complaining about how bored she was.

I made the decision that I would return to my passions of homeschooling for the foundational years. I brought L home. I wasn't sure how I would balance homeschooling with a part-time job initially, but I knew I wanted to try to balance things instead of just giving up. I never entertained the concept of balance when the other kids were little. It's possible I couldn't have done it, but I knew I also never tried either.

As it turned out, I found a homeschooling mother to provide childcare when I work. Her oldest is in kindergarten, so it was easy for her to add L into her schooling routine. J plays with her toddler boy, which actually makes it easier for her because J lovingly entertains her son. Actually the two of them have become quite obssessed with Bob the Builder and if they are not watching to "learn" from their "favorite builder" then they are attempting to copy building all over the house on her. However, it keeps both boys occupied while she does the homeschooling with the girls.

There was just one problem. I was creating most of L's curriculum this fall. Having homeschooled for over two decades, I wasn't in the mood to purchase curriculum yet again for basics I can teach without formal materials this time. Except, the childcare is teaching her first kindergartener and is heavily dependent upon curriculum to guide her. That meant that she couldn't ad lib and expand upon what I provided for L and thus L was finishing too quickly.

This wouldn't be a maajor issue, except L decided she would do the other little girl's schoolwork....faster than the other child could accomplish it. So....mommy bought some more formalized materials that L can use at home and at the babysitter's house. It is working out well. I'm just concerned that L will go through what is supposed to be a full school year of materials a bit TOO fast. I'll buy more if so. It's just funny to me how fast my children learn when provided lots of opportunities and are taught to learn for the sake of loving knowledge and not task oriented.

For years, I lived in fear of public school. Unfortunately, when you drink the kool-aid of the religious right homeschoolers, you tend to believe public school is truly something to fear. Then, I put my kids in public school and discovered that it is not an entity to fear, but there are good and bad schools. Finally, I have come full circle in realizing that while I understand why public schools build foundations of learning in the manner they do, it is not how I want my children to have their foundations established. We have had far more success when I homeschool for early elementary and then transition the kids in middle school. Those who have transitioned in that manner have thrived. Everytime I have tried using public schools too early, we have issues. S came to us at the high school level, having never been to school before. I suspect his transition would have been easier if the last family had not used "homeschooling" as a mask for severe educational neglect. However, I see a lot of social struggles that S has experienced which lead me to believe if I am going to put the littles in public school at some point, it really needs to be done before high school years.

So, I have found peace in accepting I will homeschool the elementary years of the last two littles, but like their older siblings, I will transition them into public school when their foundations are strong. There is only one child I will refrain from ever putting into public school. The combination of severe dyslexia, Asperger's Syndrome and insanely high IQ is a BAD combination for public schools. I had to laugh when the middle school Psychologist (the same one who has been sweet and unbelievably helpful in transitioning Ch with his ESL and spelling challenges) gave me a funny look when I described C and asked me to please stick to my committment to never put him in public school, as no public school can provide the very unique, one on one education that C requires. I've actually been told this same thing by several college professors, so putting C into public school is not actually on the table. However, outside of the child I wonder why God thought I was capable of helping him thrive and overcome his Eistein level challenges, I realize that the others will eventually go to public school.

Teaching L kindergarten has reminded me that I really do LOVE teaching. There's little enjoyment for me in schooling C. Teaching him is the constant experience of having a sponge suck all of the moisture out of you and leaving you exhuasted for the effort. With L, I have remembered the passion I brought to homeschooling before I drank the fundamnetalist kool-aid, the teaching I pursued because I knew I could do better for my little ones than assembly line education. I am also keenly aware that these years are rapidly coming to an end. While I count down the days until I can turn C over to PhDs and he can pepper the with his non-stop questions, with L and J I realized they are the end of an era. I get the thrill of building their foundations and then I get one last time setting my babies on the world and watching them integrate and thrive. I will honestly miss these days when they are gone from us.

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