Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Back to (Brick and Mortar) School

This has been quite the year.

Every time I think we are done growing and changing, another big shift in the wind hits us.

Let me get to it.

Buddy went to school today. Not homeschool, a brick and mortar public school. Isabelle is in the middle of enrolling in school and will probably be attending by the end of the week.

I know. I was rather shocked myself. One day we were just rolling along and the next, a big change needed to happen. So, we are going with it.

It has been really hard so far. When I went in to the elementary school, the secretary took it upon herself to tell me a few "facts":

1. You cannot tell if a child is gifted or even very smart until they are in their teens.

2. Parents who homeschool are lazy and don't really teach their kids anything.

3. Homeschooled kids are socially backwards and don't know how to interact correctly with people.

Now, I let the first two slide because another parent was standing there and I make it a personal goal to not let my mean out in front of others if I can help it. For that last one, though, we were alone. Plus, she had done such an excellent job of showing me how fabulous her public school socialization skills are with all the false fact and insult spewing she did, that I just needed to set that straight. I told her I had to disagree with her. I told her about the wonderful socializing opportunities my kids have had from day to day. I talked about how my kids have learned to handle themselves around kids and adults of all ages and the poise my oldest in particular has. I did not mention that homeschool kids learn better manners than to insult public schooled adults, but I kinda sorta wanted to. I am sure she is a nice lady, but I wasn't impressed with her ridiculous and utterly inaccurate claims. Good thing she isn't a teacher.

Anyhow, I met with the principal after that and we had a wonderful talk that eased my mind about sending Buddy to school. He recommended a teacher and she and I met today. I like her. She is young, has experience with friends who were homeschooled and doesn't have any strong bias for or against them, which is good. We talked about Buddy's strengths and his less strong stuff and I felt like it was time to try.

So, I sat in on class with Buddy this morning. He got right into it. After about 15 minutes I asked him if he wanted to stay or go home. He wanted to stay the day. I asked if he wanted me to stay with him and he told me I could leave.

So I did.

And, I cried the entire way home.

Oh, how I hate this. I missed him all day.

Then, I went to start registering Belle. I spent some time with the counselor discussing her academic schedule and the courses she will be taking. He talked to me about the advanced courses and programs they have, and that was encouraging. I still need to finish getting that settled, but it won't be too terribly hard. Belle is so excited.

I had a good cry after that too.

Now, let me get to the messy stuff.

Sam and I aren't totally thrilled about this. But, we have our reasons, and I'm willing to share them.

1. Belle in particular really wants to try it out. Buddy just needs a change of pace.

2. Between Sam's job changes and my large piano load I took on this year to offset the pay cut he took when I switched jobs, we are wiped out. I am teaching 35 piano students this year. That is a lot of kids to teach. Belle's courses were getting really hard and I didn't feel like I was doing a good job helping her with class. I really felt like Xander, Oz, and Henry were getting lost in the shuffle far too often and that wasn't okay.

3. We've been struggling with our school choice all year. Instead of feeling peaceful and happy like I have in past year, I've felt very unsettled. That feeling just would not subside. This doesn't feel completely awesome, but it feels less unsettling.

I know we have always said we will take homeschooling year by year and day by day, and I guess day by day is the accurate description. I have no idea how long this change will last. Maybe forever, maybe for a few weeks, maybe for the school year. All I know is right now, we need to try this out.

The kids are happy. Buddy loved school. Isabelle is so excited. Xander will be doing school at home with me still and I think he is happy to have time with me. I am really looking forward to focusing my energy on Xander's needs. But, I'm a bit of a blubbering mess right now. I'm fighting those feelings of guilt and failure over making this change. But, then I'm reminding myself that what matters is that we do what keeps our entire family running happily, and right now, this is what we need. This isn't a failure, this is a course adjustment.

I know my homeschool friends are probably disappointed right now. I get it, I do. But, I am going to lay a harsh truth on everyone, including myself:
How we school our kids doesn't make us better parents. How we love them, DOES.
If we are struggling with finances, jobs, schedules, patience, health... whatever, and making a change, even a temporary one, needs to happen, please, stop beating yourself up and do it. I give anyone who needs it permission to be "imperfect" in whatever they need to. I won't pretend I think this is the best academic choice for my kids. I don't. But, I think this is a necessary change for my family for today. I can still supplement their education at home. How they are schooled isn't what will make or break them. How they are loved at home is what matters.

Now, on a funny note, I woke up this morning to snow and I had to chuckle. I guess Hell froze over.

PS.  I need to thank my babywearing tribe. They got me through today with their encouragement and love while I cried and cried. My tribe led me to trying homeschool and they are leading me further down the road by reminding me to put the oxygen mask on myself first and find balance. I love you hippies.


  1. Yay! Making adjustments that are appropriate for your family as your needs change is the best kind of parenting and educating. I've always said I will never, ever, ever home school. I won't even entertain the notion of it. But you're willing to entertain all notions -- home school, public school, charter school -- and do what's best for your family AND THEN KEEP ASSESSING. Twenty-points to Towerland for being willing to make hard changes.

  2. Hey, I am your (former) homeschool friend and I am PROUD of you! You're doing what works! We started brick and mortar school too, and it has been completely fantastic. I have no regrets about our time homeschooling, and I have no regrets about putting him in public school. Everything was right for us at the time. Good for you for being flexible and recognizing when it was time for a change!

  3. You should be proud of yourself.
    I can imagine it is very hard - change is hard.

    You a good brolly, yo

  4. I thought I knew for sure what was best for my daughter when she started kindergarten and we had a very stressful year that took all the fun out of it for both of us. This year we made a change and it is like night and day. We just have to keep searching until we find what works!