August. It is going to be August in 23 minutes.
All around Facebook, moms look like they’re readying to turn the page into fall and school and rhythm and routine. Maybe it’s because school in Wisconsin doesn’t typically start until September, but I feel like summer has hardly begun! We’ve only been to the beach once, we’re still trying to get into a good routine of playing outside more (inside-loving mama here…), and I’m still waiting for strawberry season to begin.
Wait…yeah, I totally missed that one. Planned to go picking at the beginning of July only to find out the season ended in June. Whoops! I guess more jam will have to wait for autumn raspberries.
(I can’t even handle this picture. I don’t know why I’m putting it here other than the fact that I took it today and it makes me laugh.)
We are turning the page in a pretty big way, though, and the dawn of August makes it only too real. After six years of Gabe being in public school, we’ve decided (I think…I’m pretty sure…gulp) to homeschool him in the fall. The little people, too, although that’ll be a whole different and much simpler ballgame.
I always said I would never do this. In fact, it’s more accurate to say I declared I’d never do this. I didn’t know a lot of homeschooling families in my youth, but the ones I did know…were…different. They donned dresses with high necklines and long hemlines. Homemade, of course. They didn’t watch tv. Movies and dances were out of the question. They feared God’s wrath if they sinned by skipping Sunday night church. Actually, they seemed to fear God’s wrath for most anything. I was never going to be that family.
Then, I grew up and became a public school teacher and was equally convinced I’d never homeschool my children. Children need the structure! They need the social contact! They need the variety! They need the convention! In spite of the disillusionment I developed about public schools during my time as a teacher, I harbored no questions that my children would be attend school–private if we could afford it and public if we couldn’t. And we couldn’t, so public it was.
Then, we had Gabe. And as I’d planned, we sent him to school. And it just…didn’t…work. He’s had some truly wonderful teachers, and I am absolutely certain that God opened the door for him to attend the school he’s been attending. But around December of his 5th grade year, we knew. We’d taken this school as far as we could expect to take it.
We churned over the options for some time. Sending him back to this sweet K-8 country school was still on the table, with the caveat that we could only do so acknowledging the fact that we’d have to accept less than what best suited Gabe’s individual learning style. We looked for other public options, and we briefly entertained some private and virtual options. None seemed quite right.
Since he started kindergarten, I’d started noticing bloggers who homeschooled, bloggers who were like me in their passions and interests and convictions, who also homeschooled. They valued education, valued social interactions and constructs, weren’t traditional religious conservatives, were creative, and loved the idea of hacking their children’s educations. It finally began to dawn on me that there was more than one way to homeschool. As I read those blogs, I repeatedly found myself thinking, Yes! This is what I want for my children! I want to immerse them in a love of learning! In excellent literature! In rich art! In first-hand exposures through travel! With solid, thorough preparations for the integral life skills school never has time to teach! If they can do it, why can’t we?
Gabe’s a unique learner. He’s academically very quick at some things but doesn’t pick up the softer skills via attrition. Public school, however, works exactly the opposite. They spend the bulk of their time on the academics while students develop those softer skills mostly on their own. Further, Gabe was thriving less and less under the pacing available to him at his school. We’d spent his first five years attempting to advocate for him in order to avoid the very thing against which much research cautions–disengagement in gifted tween boys. And yet in 5th grade, his disengagement at school became alarming to us. We’ve sighed lots of discouraged sighs–and, quite truthfully ached over many uncertain fears–around here as we tried to find ways to stick with convention, get through, and make it work.
But it’s just not.
So as we start turning the page toward fall, we’re turning the page in a big way for our family and beginning to homeschool. I’ll elaborate more on our decision and plans later. I think I’m finally getting things narrowed down and developing a picture of what the next few months might look like.
But for now, I’d love to know…have you ever turned the page in a big way (school or otherwise) for your family? How did you prepare everyone for the transition? And if you’ve specifically turned the page from being a public school family to a homeschool family, what wisdom do you have to offer?
(PS -When I reread it, this post sounds super certain. I am mostly certain, but not super certain. I’m an Enneagram 9, which, of decision-making, says, “Can feel extremely pressured when asked to make controversial or unilateral decisions,” and “You tend to procrastinate and take longer than others to make up your mind.” Ha! So I can’t leave this post without also mentioning the fact that we aren’t unenrolling until the last possible moment in case something changes or something unforeseen happens. Anxiety much?)