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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Homeschoolers No More: Part 2

After much thought and prayer, I was finally able to admit that my children needed more than I alone was able to give them at home.  The opportunity came for my children to attend a very rigorous classical co-op.  I felt very strongly that was the direction we needed to take for 5th and 8th grade- not so much because I agreed with the philosophy of teaching, but because my kids needed to be pushed hard so they could experience what they were truly capable of. Also, they needed to be accountable to someone else for their lessons. Abby and Ben had adopted the idea that I was "just Mom"- that I didn't need their very best and that grace would always abound.

That was the most difficult year of our lives. We spent many nights schooling until 10 or 11 at night and we spent many days shedding tears with each other. Not only was school difficult, but Andy's job of 15 years took a turn towards an uncertain future. Come April, with a light shining at the end of the school year tunnel, Andy was laid off.  We finished the year strong.  I was so proud of those kids! They did things they just didn't believe they could do!  They were challenged and they met their challenges with strength and determination, never giving up.

We fixed up Cainberly and put her on the market, sure that God would bring a job and a buyer in record time. Six months later, no job.  The house had sold and, I'm not even kidding, the DAY before the movers came to empty her Andy got a job offer in Rochester, NY. (This was a huge answer to prayers of its own, but that's a post for another day!) We had already begun homeschooling for the year because we had no idea where or when we'd be moving so with so much transition it seemed the easiest thing to do.  Turns out, my friends, that the suburbs of Rochester host some of the top ranked school systems IN THE NATION! God blessed us with an amazing house in an amazing neighborhood in an amazing school district!

Last week my kids became homeschoolers no more.  Ben was dropped first, eager and excited.  Abby was dropped, nauseous and terrified.  After 3 days Ben hit his wall and Abby let me know that, perhaps, we hadn't made such a bad decision about schooling after all! Ben finished out his week strong, but I think PE may be his personal nemesis for a bit! Abby talks about lots of new friends and how much she loves her Military History class.

So why am I sharing all of this? I think I have learned a few lessons in my ten years of homeschooling and this may be the most important......life and people change.  Homeschooling my children was the perfect choice for them and for our family.  Choosing to discontinue homeschooling was, also, the very best choice for them and for our family.  At the onset of our homeschooling journey, I was convinced that everyone should homeschool and that once begun, you only ended with graduation-That there was shame in "quitting" and that it would signify some lack of love for Abby and Ben.  Since then, I have learned much more about grace- and about my kids in particular.  I've learned that God's plan for us may not look the same as everyone else's and that I should perhaps listen more to Him instead.  He holds my children's hearts, and their futures, and He loves them so much more than even I.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Homeschoolers No More: Part I

For ten years.  For ten years we have spent day in and day out together.  We have sipped hot tea and read amazing stories.  We've made salt dough maps and gone to the grocery store any time that we pleased.  We cried in frustration and we've cried in comical hysterics.  We have each grown and changed and learned.  Homeschooling is who we were.

If I were honest I'd say that we began homeschooling because we had no other choice.  We lived in an urban neighborhood with an inner city school system that did not inspire the confidence to convince us to send our children everyday.  Oh how thankful I am that we chose to homeschool.  If you've never done it, please let me share this with you.......teaching someone to read is simply the most fulfilling experience I have ever known.  Add to that the fact the students are your own children and, well, it's epic.

Our days and weeks and months and years were constantly evolving.  My goal was always to customize our curriculum and plans around the kids and their learning styles.  That worked perfectly for the elementary years.  Past that, I began to find planning difficult, and the children's love of learning began to ebb.  Suddenly my voracious readers became lazy learners, not finding the interest and passion in our time together as they once did.  Still living in the same place and situation, I felt trapped in homeschooling.  Not just in the act of homeschooling, but in the pride of homeschooling.

What do I mean "..in the pride of homeschooling"?  Homeschooling became my idol.  I was a martyr to the act of homeschooling.  I had sacrificed myself on the altar of my children's education.  What would people think of me if I quit?  What would people think of my children?  What would my identity be if not as a homeschooling mom?  Haven't I been told that my children would only suffer if they weren't home with me?

I began to comprehend that my children WERE suffering........with me! And I began to realize a change was in order........so I began to pray.

Stay tuned for Part 2......my prayers are answered!