One of the hosts from Mythbusters is known to say, "failure is always an option". I'm not sure whether or not to agree with that, but I've been thinking about failure lately.
While homeschooling v traditional schooling is very much a calling and a personal family decision, sending LB to school after 3 years of homeschooling very much has feelings of failure attached to it. Intellectually, I may agree with my husband that this is a good thing to try (we'll see how I feel after I haven't seen her all day for a week), but in my heart, there is that voice that says, "you could have done it better....then he wouldn't have decided to send her to school". God knows that I have failings as a mother, it's a pretty human predicament. And maybe I could have done a better job, but it's hard to tell because homeschooling doesn't look the same in every family.
I was very laid back about schooling. I bought the books and we worked on them.....but not every day, not every book consistently. They were kind of the general guide of what things we should talk about and learn, not schedules that I felt we had to follow. A lot of it, I made up as I went along. And you know what, a kid who cried when we did reading lessons so much that I stopped doing them now loves to read. She might prefer listening to a book on CD, but she actually told me about a week ago how much she enjoys reading. "WHAT!?!", I thought, "is this my kid talking?" How is it that the intuition to back off ended up with the reward of a child who loves to read? I don't think it's anything that I can take credit for, the reading lessons stopped because I had a gut feeling that they needed to stop for a while. I think maybe God lives in my gut as much as my heart....that He resides beyond even my consciousness where I get that "feeling" that doesn't always have a logical explanation. I mean, to teach reading, one would think reading lessons necessary. Turns out, they weren't for us with LB.
I do recognize some gaps in her education, of course, like I never really got around to teaching her to tie shoes. I MEANT to...I even got a special really big practice shoe/foam thing to do it.....but I still haven't. I really do need to get that done before she starts school in a month.......
She also has a hard time telling time still. If it's on the hour or half hour, she's pretty good, but I really should have worked more with the stuff in the middle. She also doesn't write compositions yet. I've had her write thank you notes as most of her writing practice so far.....but I think with just getting to love reading this Spring/Summer, writing will catch up pretty quickly as she moves through the progression of reading stories to writing stories. The writing thing, I think I can semi-justify....but not the shoe-tying and clock-reading - those I really should have taken care of by now.
Another thing I should have done better is networking with other families for social time. I think this sole factor was the decision-maker for my husband on sending her to school. He felt like she just wasn't getting enough social interaction. I pray that the social interaction she has at school is positive. I ran into a family with a little girl LB knows recently and LB was talking to her. Every time LB suggested something they could do together, the little girl shot her down and LB just kept suggesting things, undeterred. The girl was really not very nice about it. She goes to traditional school and while I'm well aware that homeschooled kids can be twerps, it just added one more thing to my list of misgivings about the coming school year.
As I list the balance of my failures, it's only fair to think about the things that have gone well, like the reading. I think also her character has been positively affected by homeschooling. She is a genuinely sweet, kind child. She is, of course, a child....prone to all the misbehaviors entailed therein, but to her core, she is kind. My biggest fear is that school will rob her of her innocent disposition that we have managed to maintain thus far. She has yet to be jaded by the bully, the popular crowd and the antics and politics of a school.
When we were deciding to send LB to school, I deferred the decision to my husband (1) because he is the head of the household and responsible for such decisions and (2) because I was way too close to the situation to make the decision. Sending LB to school feels like I am paying someone else to be fired from my job. I couldn't have done that on my own. So, as I weigh the successes against the failures of homeschooling, I think the balance may swing to success simply because I was willing to set aside pride and defer to my husband. Because, really, homeschooling is a calling; it's all about doing what God wants you to do. I pray that we are and remain where God wants us to be as a family......although I really hope that leads us back home soon.