Saturday, November 22, 2014

Who are we now? Who am I?

A strange thing has happened in our homeschool world of lovliness....My children have opted to try out school. Yes that is right! After years of joyfully playing the afternoons away, my eldest two who are 13 and 11 have asked to go off to the public school.

We have always said that we would homeschool until it didn't work for us anymore. My children have always chosen to stay home and educate...and play...and create...and invent. But something happened a few years back, I returned to work. I returned so that we had more financial security and so that we could continue to have grand adventures. But that meant that I wasn't there during the day. That meant the children did more self directed learning and that I taught in the evenings and for 3 hours on the weekends. And that was fine and it worked...until it didn't. My son spent most of last May sobbing nightly in my arms. "Mama I miss you too much" was his mantra. And so, without thinking, I said "well, we need to keep you busy during the day so you won't miss me so much. Let's come up with a project, and I can get some friends to commit to a play date once a week maybe, and I will see if Daddy can take you to more classes. Or you could go to school and you would be kept busy ALL DAY". And then he looked at me with eyes lit up and said "Can I, can I go to school?" Apparently this had been something he had been thinking about, but didn't want to upset the balance. After-all, we were a homeschool family, not a public school family, right?

And so began our new adventure. After visiting the school, which we both fell in love with, we registered him and waited through the summer for the school supply lists to come out. On the first day, he donned his backpack, kissed me goodbye, and climbed on the bus. And had a pretty good week. He didn't meet the instant best friend like he had hoped. And things were strange, and waking up at 6am was very tiring. But all in all he had a good time.

And then the other shoe dropped...his sister, who would be in 8th grade, asked to go too.

Now we have always said that if the children did not choose to start middle school in 6th grade, that they didn't get the choice again until high school. I felt that starting in 7th or 8th would surely be harder than 6th, where everyone was new to the school. But after thinking it though, we decided that rules were meant to be broken and off she went too. And to our delight, she was met with a gaggle of girls just wanting to be her friends. She was also met with a ton of work as she had to catch up on the weeks she had missed. But she met it with vigor and joy.

So now my kids were all in school and that left me...what? I was not a homeschool mom if we weren't homeschooling, right? And most of my friends are other homeschool moms, so now what? Did I tag along to homeschool events ALONE? was like rewriting a book, this not knowing where I fit into it all. But I could help with homework and even elaborate on what they were learning. I supplemented where I felt the teachers fell short. And even homeschool kids went to co op, right? and had other teachers but did work for those classes at home. So what was so different about what we were doing? It was like being in co op all week.

I started emailing teachers, making myself know (sometimes annoyingly so, I am sure. Like the time I emailed to ask why they weren't being taught one thing along with the other, etc), and proving that I was an involved mother educating her kids whether at home or away.

My kids also still feel homeschooled. We started referring to their time in public school as a "field trip" of sorts. And so for now, that is what it is, a prolonged field trip. Where the "docents" of the trip teach, and where Mom verifies and oversees the work done at home, the studying, the math, the everything. We are having fun with it. After all, homeschooling is not just how you learn your lessons, it is a STATE OF MIND!