Tuesday, March 22, 2011

expectations and homeschool

The school year is almost over. (the hallelujah chorus triumphantly singing in my mind)I am on countdown. I have not really posted much about our home school year. I think it is because I am trying to understand it myself. There are a few things I have learned this year...
It is a very accomplished feeling to teach your child to read. I feel as though I have ran a marathon of some sort. It has been miles and miles of practice and I am gearing up to cross the finish line. That being said I am not sure I ever want to run the marathon again. Israel is finally enjoying reading and for that I am extremely proud and grateful.
As the school year end is in sight I am hearing a lot of questions about next year. What are my plans? Home school again? Public school? Let me say with all respect to people asking that it is like asking a mother just after she has given birth does she want more children? I feel like I have survived a monumental thing (first grade). I don't want to think about second grade yet let alone Aubrey Lynn's education. That being said I know that I HAVE to think about second grade. I just don't want to yet.
In terms of the type of home school we chose to do this year we will definitely not be doing it again. The best way to describe this year was me doing public school, at home, without the benefits of either home school or public school. I had way to much curriculum, way to many worksheets, way too many lesson plans. I often felt like I was spending more time "planning" school than teaching school. Not good. The reason I started this program was mostly based our of fear and expectations. My thoughts were based on others opinions and not necessarily what was best for Israel. I chose this path when we started kindergarten and I felt like I needed help, guidance, Israel tested monthly to make sure we were on track and the help of a teacher who would guide me. It has been helpful and difficult all at the same time. Of course I have always done home school with the intention of doing what was best for Israel but somewhere along the line others opinions started to take precedence. It is a tricky sort of road that one walks as the homeschooling parent. I found myself doing things because I wanted Israel to keep up with a typical first grader. I found myself doing things because I wanted to appear in line and in control of Israel's education. I found myself stressed out and overwhelmed when things didn't go according to plan. Instead of embracing home school as a tool to curb the style of leaning that Israel might thrive in, I found it a trap of things that had to be checked off the list. I also have some thoughts concerning homeschooling families that I see thriving. I believe that most families that home school successfully have lots of children. Their kids have built in friends, playmates and companions that create a better learning environment. While Israel does have a sister, their age difference creates almost an only child atmosphere for Israel to home school in. He is often lonely. This year I kept comparing myself to other friends homeschooling and their children were happy, never boared etc. The difference is that they had play times throughout the day and someone to learn with, do projects with have lunch with etc. That someone for Israel has been primarily me and it has been exhausting. I love interaction with Israel. I love playing with him, entering into his world, doing crafts with him. I do believe that no matter how much I try and interact with him he has lacked that companionship. I have had a hard time balancing companionship with Israel and the role of being his mother/teacher/disciplinarian/encourager. Not to mention a certain someone causing all kinds of trouble around here 24/7.

And before I get comments concerning this just for the record Israel is in flag football two days a week, music class one day a week, church/sundayschool, Awanas & generally we walk to the park a day or two a week, play with cousins at least once a week, the list goes on. He has plenty of social interaction so to speak. But one hour of football at the end of a LONG day of school and being home is tricky. I don't want to create an entertained child who is self centered and always has things that are fun and created just for him. At the same time I want to acknowelde that this is a problem for Israel and I desire for him grow in social things. My heart for Israel isn't that he would just "get through" school or life for that matter, but that he would thrive, be content in who God made him to be, and grow in character and in love. A happy boy is
wonderful, but a child who radiates in joy and fullness of love is even better.
I do love that home school has brought such a good dynamic of brother/sister interaction that I for sure know would have been missed out on had Israel been at public school 6 hrs a day. And I love that. I love them.
I guess my point is that homeschooling has been hard, could get better, and in the grace of Jesus we shall make it through this year. I am not afraid of public school (although I do have some concerns) but I do feel like homeschool is still an option at this point. It generates things that cause me to grow, allows Israel and I time to work through issues, we enjoy memorizing scripture together and generally make it through the day just fine. But there are those days to be sure that I find myself questioning. My deepest desire is that I would have a firm conviction about why I homeschool and not just thoughts on why I see good things that come from it or respect others in the homeschool community. And as next year comes, would you pray for the wisdom and revelation of God to be given to Kurt and I as we decide the best fit for Israel whatever that might be?


Unorganized Woman said...

You are doing such an amazing job as a mother! For you to even ask and think through all these things shows how much you are involved and care. I know that you will know the right path to take in schooling your children, the Lord will answer you! If you do choose to homeschool, I can only suggest what I know. If I were you I would look into Classical Conversations for 2 reasons: 1) Simple yet thorough curriculum 2) Co-op meeting once a week where the kids are in classes together. Again, this is just my own experience but we have loved it! This is not an easy journey to take and I don't know if you will ever end a year looking forward to doing it again next year, but on the flip side there is always grace and the rewards are great. No matter what you decide God will be with you and for you. You are a great mom!

daytripperlp said...

People will always have views, opinions, experiences and the like. I think as humans we sometimes get caught in comparing our situations to theirs. And of course our thoughts will always be colored to some degree with those of others. But, listen to and follow your heart, and you'll make the decision that is right for you, Izzy and the rest of the fam.