We have 3 children. When our oldest was getting close to school age, there was an internal debate going on inside of me. Homeschool, or Public.
I WANTED to homeschool. The idea of it was appealing. There was so much I wanted to teach my children, so much I wanted to experience with them first hand. I had this bright, glittery idea of what it would look like. So when my son turned 5, we started in to a mix of Pre-K and Kindergarten with high expectations.
It only lasted 4 months.
Despite our desperate attempts, it was failing.
Don’t get me wrong, my son was doing wonderfully. I was the one failing. I was constantly stressed. I pushed him, and I pushed myself much farther than we should have. I couldn’t break that line between being a mother, and being a teacher. I knew he was smart, and I knew what he was capable of, and when he didn’t want to do something, or didn’t do it to the best of his ability, I was beyond frustrated. I was trying way too hard, and I was pushing him to try just as hard. It was an awful mess.
I was not a happy person to be around for several months. I was snippy with everyone in our house. I went in to a depression, and started to resent my children. I didn’t want to be around them.
I hated feeling like that. Hated it. I got to the point I was doing what ever I could to avoid being with them. Something had to change.
“I can’t do this.”
When I finally said those words out loud, I cried. I knew they were true. I really wanted to homeschool. I was giving up something that I had set my heart on. What made it worse, I felt like I really was just giving up. I had a similar feeling when breastfeeding didn’t work out. I was failing all over again. We kept muddling through for another few weeks. I didn’t want to let it go. But my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
Please understand, it wasn’t that I didn’t know it would be hard. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was how it would affect me emotionally. How it would change our family dynamics, or how the amount of stress I was putting on myself would affect the way I treated my children and my husband. I was not handling it well at all, and I figured that was just something I would have to fix and power through.
Then a friend told me quite plainly,
“Just because they go to public school doesn’t mean you can’t teach them at home too.”
Oh dear friend, those words meant more than you will ever know. Of course I can teach them. I can teach them what ever I want! That’s what a parent does after all. I could experience everything right along with them. Just perhaps with out the pressure I was putting on myself every day.
I let go. I realized that there are some things I am just not good at, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make me a bad mother, but perhaps a better one for knowing my own limits.
The weight that lifted was enormous! It was an obvious change. I enjoyed spending time with my kids again. Teaching was fun again.
Public school wasn’t evil, though I never really thought it was. I was just scared that I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I wanted with them. That it would all be taken out of my hands.
It wasn’t. When we registered my son for kindergarten the next Fall, I just opened up lines of communication with his teachers. I knew what he was learning, and I backed it up at home. I still don’t know how full time teachers don’t loose their minds on a daily basis. But teaching along side them, albeit in a much more informal way, has been an absolute joy!
It’s made room for us to teach them things on a more personal level. Faith and life choices, hands on science, history, and just experiences in general. We also have more time to help them explore their personal interests, not just what they have to learn in school.
We still homeschool for preschool. (Preschool is the fun stuff anyway!) We have two in public school now, and every year I still have this internal debate. There may come a time when they are older, and a little more self sufficient, that I look at homeschooling again. There is a ton of virtual academy type resources that would make it a little easier on us. For now though, every day is a learning opportunity, and they ask questions all the time. It’s fascinating to see all they are learning and to be a part of it, even though it isn’t quite what I always pictured.