There are things which are “right” for different families for different reasons. Homeschooling, at least in this season of our lives is what seems best. Full disclosure that as fed up and tired I was of how many coloring sheets came home that merely filled the spaces between when my child finished his work and when another activity started; I didn’t homeschool specifically for that. The elementary school district we fall in happens to be one of the best, he was in an accelerated program and although budget cuts affected some of our better programs, the “gifted” class amounted to 2 hours a day, 1 day a week. That wasn’t the reason either. We didn’t have issues of being bullied. The teachers were good at what they did and for the most part genuinely liked it.
While most people think having your kids with you mostly all day every day breeds bad relations and sends you to absurd levels of frustration, this hasn’t been the case for us and that’s why when I started to pen this piece, I prefaced it by saying, “There are things which are right for different families for different reasons” and I reiterate that again.
Homeschooling was my saving grace; it was me affording myself the opportunity to parent in the way I always envisioned it. It was me looking myself in the mirror, past the ragged hair and knowing that I was doing what was best for my children. It was me spending time, nurturing and nourishing them. It was me giving them the chance to be children.
There was something about me having to consciously schedule time into a 6 year olds day for “play” that didn’t make any sense to me. There were tons of books to be read and no time to read them, except for a book sent home in a bag with a sheet to sign. Some weeks I signed that sheet and sent it back because there simply was no time to read it.
There was something about cancelling all extracurricular activities because there wasn’t time. That just didn’t sit well with me. My goal has always been to raise well rounded children and when I tried this, we drove to baseball and my child was sleeping in the backseat because the school day which began at 8:30 and ended at 3:40 was simply too long. Activities he loved became things he came to resent because he was tired.
I cannot count how many times I said “hurry up” before I actually dropped my child to school or how many times breakfast was finished in the car. These things made me frustrated and in turn, I was frustrated with my children. I alluded all of my frustrations to them.
I remember walking across the road, 2 younger kids in tow to have lunch with my child one day, this was a desperate plea to say sorry, sorry I yelled at you before dropping you off to school, sorry I couldn’t listen to your story, sorry you couldn’t finish that puzzle with your sister, sorry you couldn’t play with your brother who I felt you barely knew because you hardly had time to see him, sorry you went to bed before daddy came home and woke up after he left and this would be second day you’re living in the same house and not seeing each other. So many apologies, so many things I felt I had failed at that I tried to make up for in a 20 minute lunch session in a cafeteria filled with kids, cups placed on tables telling children when they could talk and when they needed to be quiet.
Friday nights I would put my other kids to bed a little earlier and finally get to listen to stories from the past week, at which point he barely remembered them and hardly cared to share them because all week long there wasn’t enough time to listen.
And that’s when the thoughts of homeschooling came floating back to me. They were prevalent before my child even started school and once we started, it became the “normal” thing to do. I stuck with it because it was what society was telling me to do.
I toyed with the idea, practicing a schedule over summer and made sure my plans were kept within the boundaries of my own home. I didn’t want anyone’s input, I didn’t want their suggestions, I wanted this to be a decision we made as a family and that’s exactly what we did and that’s without a doubt, why it works as beautifully for our family as it does. I also check in with my kids regularly to ensure they still like this choice and I check in on myself as well. When I began this journey I needed to be accountable and so I emailed myself a letter and made a promise that if I couldn’t teach my kids in an atmosphere of love and be respectful to them while creating an environment conducive to learning, then I wouldn’t do it.
So, what are the main blessings this journey has given us:
-time; it’s our most valuable resource. We get to choose how to spend our days, how to learn, what to learn, and the length of time we want to spend on an activity. The kids get to participate in extracurricular activities like Arabic, swimming, karate and gymnastics and they get to love it because there is more time to enjoy it.
-love of learning; because so much of it is in their hands they get to actively enjoy doing it.
– Joys of reading; we’ve read every book on our shelf and spend time every week at our library; we also bring home a large bag of books. No longer is our library a pretty building in our neighborhood, it’s a part of our lives.
– Appreciation of religion; we have time to truly understand the basis and pillars of our religion and I get to share most of the daily prayers with my children by my side.
– Family bonds; when I watch my children and the bonds they have created, I won’t have it any other way. We also get to spend more time as a family and sit down to have meals together and communicate more now than ever before.
Please know that if you are a parent and you don’t like or agree with anything I said, we’re still in the boat of desperately trying to do what’s best for our children!