I don’t love homeschooling, but I love my children. Sometimes it just takes a little course correction to get back on track.
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I don’t love homeschooling.
There. I said it.
When we first started, homeschooling was the Holy Grail. The Balm of Gilead. The fluffy icing on my chocolate cupcake.
Now it just feels like a snowman melting in the mud.
It’s that bad.
Pressure to get up on time. Pressure to get out the door. Pressure to perform in a hostile environment. Pressure to get homework done. Pressure to get to sleep on time. Pressure to start the whole darn thing over again when the sun rose.
At bedtime, I would hold my daughter in her bed while she sobbed into my shoulder.
My kindergartner. My six year old.
In what world is this okay?
At the time, it was the one in which you so desperately want your own child to have the Catholic education of your youth that you keep her in the school, hoping and praying things will get better despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
Yeah, that one. The Kingdom of Magical Thinking.
We limped across the school year finish line, battle weary and broken. And then, because we might actually have been certifiably insane, we looked at putting her in the public school.
I knew I needed to homeschool. I was terrified that I needed to homeschool. It took several IEP meetings and a tour of the neighborhood school to finally convince me I needed to homeschool.
That and a divinely-inspired whack over the side of the head. (Jonah ain’t got nothing on me.)
And so we did it. It was lovely and beautiful and joyful and everything we hoped it would be. For three years we lived in blissful homeschooling peace, until I ruined it all with a giant scoop of I-don’t-even-know-my-own-limits.
I’ll spare you the grisly details, but suffice it to say I decided I could teach a class, take on a full load of tutoring students, pursue freelance writing and blogging as a second career, volunteer to lead two clubs in our homeschool group, and renew my state teaching license all while homeschooling two children and fishing crayons out of the mouth of a third. Nevermind the fact that I don’t do well under pressure. Nevermind the fact that my middle child could run for president and win out of sheer force of will. Nevermind the fact that I’m too busy to remember to brush my teeth.
I could do it all. Of course I could do it all. Every working/homeschooling/stay-at-home/married/single mother can do it all.
Oh boy, was I wrong. So now here I am, smack dab in the Month of Sorrows (also known as February) thinking about how much I don’t love homeschooling. It’s the reincarnation of everything we loathed about school:
Pressure to get up on time.
Pressure to get out the door.
Pressure to get all our work done.
Pressure to get to bed.
Pressure to start the whole thing over again when the sun rises.
Homeschooling wasn’t supposed to be this way. My educational landscape is as cold and barren as the New England fields in Ethan Frome, my fragile hopes at salvaging the rest of the year resembling “outcroppings of slate [nuzzling] up through the snow like animals pushing out their noses to breathe.”
(I’m not dramatic at all – why do you ask?)
It would be so much easier to send the girls off to school and put the babe in preschool. I’d have time to myself for writing. Planning. Organizing.
Cleaning. (People still do that, right?)
But at what cost?
My children are the heart of my home. They belong with me, and I with them.
My children would dissolve in a school environment. They need flexibility, encouragement, and time away from the crowd.
My children learn at their own pace. They need to be challenged and supported in equal measure.
I’m not willing to offer my children’s well being as collateral for my own desires.
Yes, my health and my sanity are worth protecting, but I can do that while providing my children the same courtesy. If I threw in the towel now and put everyone in school, we’d lose the potential for course correction.
Someone else would be in charge, and we’d be along for the ride.
I may not love homeschooling, but I love my children.
And at least with homeschooling I know how to fix what’s not working. I know how to rekindle that spark and move ever forward, confident once again in the path we have chosen.
And so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to pull out my shovel, dig a path to deliverance, and correct the living daylights out of our course so we can get back on the road to actually learning something.
February won’t last forever.
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