Thanks to posts like this, this, this, this, this, and this (I can't figure out how to link to her individual posts-- just scroll down to the two she wrote about what they are/are not using for the 07-08 year), I am finding myself in the mood to pull out curriculum catalogs, pull stuff from the shelves, and just generally ponder the coming school year.
Many of you already know that I am facing a big decision after our oldest went to an excellent school last year. We really feel good about the school, and with him entitling us to sibling preference, we can *probably* get our kids in there for this coming year. (I say probably because they are all number one on the waiting list.) And so, I have been torn for a long time about whether to put them all in and enjoy my time with just the baby or continue in homeschooling-- especially my younger ones. My husband has pointed out to me numerous times that homeschooling really has benefitted the older kids, and suggested that perhaps the youngest deserve the same?? Ah, those pesky husbands. I hate it when they bust out with wisdom that goes against the "mommy is just looking for a break" mentality we were originally going with!
But I know in my heart of hearts he is right.
And I know in my heart of hearts that homeschooling-- while not the easier of the choices-- is what has worked best for our family. I am not one to advocate homeschooling for everyone. I am not one to advocate homeschooling forever and ever amen. My oldest has certainly helped me to break out of that mold! He was just not suited to being at home all day long with mom and a bunch of little kids. And so, for him, school has been a great option. We are much happier and fight much less than we used to. When it came down to it, I was not willing to sacrifice our relationship on the altar of homeschooling. Though I nearly did. I had to let some things go-- including my "ideal" picture of what the "perfect" homeschool family was going to look like.
And so, the past several nights I have gone to bed with the homeschool catalogs on my lap, perusing them and dreaming of what another year of homeschooling might look like for us. I have taken my spiral notebook and begun to make lists. The jury is out as to whether my fifth grader and eighth grader will be home. They are making noises about wanting to go to school. I know that the school they would be going to is a good alternative. A great alternative. And so I must decide whether to let them go or keep them home. To a degree I believe in not holding them back but to a degree I also know that God gave me the final decision on what is best for them. Ie, they would probably like to eat candy all day, but I have to reign them in from making bad choices. And so, I just keep praying and asking for wisdom. If I let them go to school, I will do so knowing I gave them what they needed when they needed it-- and will be here in case they decide that homeschooling was not so bad after all! (Which is entirely possible.)
But not my little ones-- they still need more time to just be home with me. They need me to focus on them as I once focused on their older siblings. They need my TIME-- more than writing or ministry work, more than volunteering at church or being in another Bible study. Those things will come, but time with my little ones won't ever come again. I have seen the foundation that homeschooling has given my older kids and I know that my younger ones deserve that same foundation.
I don't think that a year has gone by that I haven't struggled mightily with the decision. I think there is a misnomer out there that homeschoolers homeschool with great joy and complete confidence. That homeschoolers somehow got endowed with an extra measure of patience and wholehearted commitment. And perhaps there are those out there who do feel that way. But not me-- and not most of my friends. Oh sure, we have our good days. But mostly we just persevere in obedience because we trust that doing what we are called to do-- in spite of the personal sacrifice-- will bring about its own reward. I see that reward in my son now heading into the high school years. While he might not have made it all the way through, I know that homeschooling served him well and gave him a great place from which to spring. As a parent, I can't ask for much more than to give all my kids just that.