Sunday, March 30, 2008

Home Education Week: Looking Back

Looking Back Sunday, March 30
    Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.

Well before I was a mother, I was a student. Before I was a home educator, I was seriously considering becoming a student again. We had 2 boys in kindergarten and grade 3 in our local public school. I spent most of that year in my boys' school, in their classrooms and in the library volunteering. I helped 3 grade 3 boys with severe literacy issues, shelved books in the library and hung out with the 5 year olds. It was a ton of fun and kept me busy.

Every day, someone would tell me that I should either go back to school and get my teaching degree or take some courses and get a job as an aide in the school. I did not want to be a teacher. At all.

I enjoyed the daily interactions with the other parents and teachers. I hung out on the playground after kindy and made a big effort to befriend other moms. Sunny days were the best, there were always lots of us watching the kids and commiserating about our parenting experiences.

I had been working the year before at the gym, but it was in our old neighbourhood and I decided it was too big a deal to go that far anymore.
One thing we didn't have a lot of time for was socializing with our best friends, our weeks were packed. And my dh was often out of town, so our evenings and weekends were often lonely.

I had always considered homeschooling as a possibility. I had felt that when B went to grade one, I should have pulled him out of school. He was already growing bored in the classroom, though he thrived on the social aspects. By grade three, he had become a bit sullen and had an attitude about school. It wasn't worth his effort anymore, he figured. He had experienced some bullying the years previous and I am sure that contributed to his attitude.

R loved kindergarten, though the idea of it and the first couple months caused a nervous habit that he has kept to this day. Nail biting. ick.

My best friend was a home educator already and she worked on me for months, we wanted more time to hang out! She told me about all the cool activities her kids were involved with, I was jealous. When spring came and I found out I was pregnant, it seemed like the perfect time to start. I wasn't going to be going back to university if I had a new baby, so we decided to start home educating that fall.

That first year was wonderful. I loved the freedom. We got to spend our days doing what we liked. We had activities with home school friends 2 days a week and did schooly stuff 2 or 3 mornings a week. We got to hang out with our bestest friends 3 or 4 days a week. In the spring when my husband had to go up north to work, we all went with him. Freedom!
After Christmas, when we had our new baby, we were able to take things easy and not bundle him up every morning to take the boys to class. We did what we were able to, without a lot of pressure or worry.

When we decided it was time to move to a different city, I have to say there were things that I really missed about my kids being in school. I missed the daily opportunities for adult interactions. I was very lonely. It took me a long time to become connected in our new town. I still haven't gotten hugely involved in the home educating community here, but I do have a small core of friends.

I also felt bad that the boys didn't have that school environment to meet new kids. Luckily there are some boys in our cul-de-sac that they immediately made a connections to. Unfortunately they don't see much of them in the winter months as everyone is in school and activities.
The last few years I have often felt that the academics were suffering as we kept adding to our family. We now have a 4 year old and a 2.5 year old, so things are getting easier, just in time to welcome our next bundle in September. Yikes!

Although there are ups and downs, and I feel like a failure as a home educator more often than not, I wouldn't trade our life now for anything. I love having my children in my home. I love that they have retained so much innocence and child-likeness for so much longer than many of their peers. I am glad that they have so little awareness of so many things that are so important to others their age. Like fashion and coolness and being 'in'. I am so thankful that they are best friends who care about each other and look out for each other and are terrific older siblings.
I love that we can pick up and go whenever we like, without having to worry about 'school'. We get to go to the pool and zoo and wherever else we like, when there are no crowds.

And I know my kids. I don't have to send them off each day, not knowing what they are doing and what has been said to them. I may not have a lot of free time on my hands, I may miss my quiet mornings on my own, but I have my kids in my heart and my home. My house may be a mess, but I now know myself better than ever and have real hobbies and interests of my own to pursue. Like blogging;)


shay said...

Did I really "work on you for months"? How awful of me. but I am glad for those years of us being able to hang out and learn and enjoy each other. I pray our kids will always be bonded together even though we're now so far apart!

lahbluebonnet said...

I can easily get lonely too. I have lots of friends, but they have closer friends and are close to their families. I don't really have anyone to call if I just want to call. I think this has driven me to my quiet times. In the last 1 1/2 years I got involved in a yahoo group for my main curriculum, eventually got asked to be a moderator, and now have had opportunities to ocassionally minister to ladies across the world. We actually got to meet in Dallas a month ago! Wow! I couldn't believe how accepted I was by these ladies. I'll be praying for you. There are really a lot of positives in your homeschooling that you keep mentioning! =)

Dessa said...

You write very well.