Let’s be honest. Last year I totally burned out on homeschooling. It was about May when things just started to fall apart and we stopped getting anything done. Homeschooling requires me to be on all day, every day and I was spent. We loved our co-op experience but it took a whole day out of our normal school schedule and we didn’t get enough done. The kids were already ahead of grade level (and still are) so I wasn’t too worried, but I still felt bad. It wasn’t working for me.
Throughout the year and over the summer I thought many times about putting the kids back in school. The elementary school near us is a good school and Molly was happy there last year. I signed William up to test for the highly capable program and he did well and made it to the second round of tests though I have yet to hear back on the final results. I didn’t plan out curriculum like in years past and I pretty much ignored the fact that there was a decision needing to be made.
Ultimately, I decided to give it another go. About a week ago I ordered our curriculum and it should be arriving tomorrow. I knew I couldn’t spend another year in a brown cave with naval wallpaper so I pulled everything to the center of the room and started throwing things out. I also ripped the ugly wallpaper border off the wall.
I used the leftover wall paint we had from the halls and brightened things up a bit and then put our newly cleaned out supplies back in order. It changed the whole feel of the room and made it feel peaceful and calming.
We started school on Monday. And you know what? It felt good.
I took charge of the day. No more summer boredom bickering. No more whining. I got them up and doing chores around the house. I took them outside and gave them drills and obstacle courses to tire them out. Then we came inside, had a quick snack, and got to work. Our curriculum isn’t coming until tomorrow so we used what we had leftover from last year. There was plenty we needed to finish. I worked them all day and didn’t give them any free time until 4pm.
It was great. They worked hard and they liked it. I’m not saying that we have to work that long everyday, but we need to make sure we dedicate more time to our studies. All those little days off add up. It’s not like we were sitting around watching tv all day last year. Think about it: all the normal activities that you do while your kids are at school, I have to pull my kids out of school for. Doctor appointment for me? My kids have to skip school. Visit teachers want to come over? My kids have to skip school. Car breaks down and needs to go into the shop? My kids have to skip school. Church planning meeting? My kids have to skip school. Dog needs to go to the vet? My kids have to skip school. Septic guy needs to inspect our system? My kids have to skip school. I think you get it.
I signed them up for co-op classes again this year, but we are making them count: art classes, chess, science, drama, Spanish and history. Those classes start a few weeks into September and the kids are excited. The boys also started piano lessons last month and will continue on with them this year.
These past two days I’ve remembered all the reasons why I love homeschooling. I feel like I’m rediscovering something that I used to love. I love helping my kids learn. I love watching even the littlest ones make huge progress. I love doing science experiments, reading history lessons and doing art with my kids. I love being able to bump my kids ahead when they are feeling bored.
Things have felt great because I’ve taken control. I’ve planned and prepared and grocery shopped and drawn up menus. It’s made a world of difference and I need to remember this for when it gets to be a few months from now and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Preparation is everything.
That being said, I did sit the kids down and tell them that this year needs to be different. I’m planning on it being my last year homeschooling unless I really feel like we hit a good groove. It isn’t enough for me to have my kids at grade level if I feel like they are bored and that we’re being lazy. The kids have mixed feelings. Adelaide wants to go to kindergarten at public school because she wants a real play ground. Henry is unsure and William is perfectly content at home. I’m not going to force anyone back to school against their will, but I’m also not going to continue on if I feel like I’m being a lousy teacher.
For now it’s good and I’m going to enjoy it.