Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Some Thoughts On School

Yesterday at my 2yo's playgroup party, my friend Gina asked me a question about having the kids in school. "Is it more work?" she wanted to know. "I keep hearing it's just as much work having them in school."

I had heard the same thing. In fact, whenever I mentioned my kids being in school while I was homeschooling, someone would inevitably say, "Oh, you would hate it. It's just as much work-- you just do it in the afternoon instead." And I would think to myself-- oooh, that sounds bad.

So, when Gina asked me this question, it made me remember that fear of school that I had. And I had to answer her honestly. "Yes, it is just as much work. But I don't mind it." Take this week, for instance. We have had:

  • parent teacher conferences times four
  • a family tree project due for my kindergartner
  • a field trip slip due
  • book fair money to distribute
  • a myriad of forms to fill out
  • regular nightly homework
  • money for a fifth grade trip to turn in
  • baked goods to bring for a fundraising bake sale
  • a gallon of milk to bring for a breakfast
  • a man's white tee shirt to bring for a craft

And there is probably more, but I am blocking it out. So, it's a lot. To be sure. It's a lot to keep up with.

But I don't mind. Because, as I told my friend Gina, I feel like I am taking a vacation after ten years of homeschooling. Yes, I have to help with homework-- but it is homework I didn't have to plan for, run copies for, or in any way be responsible for thinking about. And also, it's not my fault the kids have to do it. So, while they might complain, it is not about me that they are complaining. I am their coach, their cheerleader-- coming alongside them to say encouraging things like, "You can do this!" And also, when it gets to be too much, my husband is generally there to help one or two of them in the evenings. When we were homeschooling, he would look at me like, "Couldn't you have already taken care of this?" Again, not my fault.

And so, even though school is a lot of work-- it still feels doable. And fun. I had fun walking around the bookfair and dropping off baked goods when I was there today. Fun talking to the ladies in the office and the other moms. When we were homeschooling, I would go days without seeing other people and I felt sort of isolated and cut off from the world. And most of all, I had fun having lunch with a friend today and then spending an hour in the Target with the same friend. (Both of us only needed one thing-- yet we still found enough stuff to look at to stay for an hour!) I had the freedom of knowing that while I ate salads at Panera and fiddled around in Target, someone else was taking care of my children's education. Not that I am not involved-- I am just not responsible. And that burden was something I needed a break from. I was so ready to stop being teacher and just start being mommy.

Thanks to this lovely little charter school, I am getting that chance.

Note to homeschoolers: Please know I am not condemning homeschooling in any way. I treasure the years we homeschooled and am grateful for the time we invested in it. I would not trade it for the world. Any time you can spend homeschooling your children is time well spent. I was just in desperate need of a break! I am not sure I won't go back to it in future years once I have some time to recharge. I would love to rediscover the passion I used to have for homeschooling. Just reading Dawn's blog makes me nostalgic for sweet moments spent with my kids. But the truth is, those moments were rarely (if ever) happening for us. So, I am just learning to be realistic about my expectations of myself and live with my limitations. And do what works for us. I guess that's the key.

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