First off, in the coming weeks, I'll be playing around with the look around here, so please bear with me.
One of the reasons we've found homeschooling to work for us is Hubby's non-traditional work schedule. He has worked Tuesday-Saturday the last two years. When LB went to school one of those years, Hubby and LB barely saw each other. So, last year, we were back to homeschooling.
For this year, I bought my curriculum from Catholic Heritage Curriculum in the spring. I'm following most of their recommended planning for fourth grade, with the exception of math and history. We're using Life of Fred for math, and I have yet to find a history program I truly love, so I think it's going to be unit studies for history.
Going into our fourth year of homeschooling (we started this week), I felt pretty solid in my curriculum choices. CHC has a nice, gentle four day school week that lets me add in subjects and extra studies where I feel necessary based on my learner, but still provides enough structure that she can work independently when I hit a busy work season. It works for us.
Four years into homeschooling, and you'd think that perhaps I had fewer doubts, knew what I was doing, or had strong convictions about the rightness of our path.
But something wonderful happened this month that made me question it all. Hubby's schedule changed to Monday-Friday. This is a great thing for getting together with extended family and generally socializing with other families, but it made me question why I'm still homeschooling.
Granted, the change happened this week, and we already had everything in place for our school year, but I began to start looking at the local Catholic school with a little more longing. While I enjoy not spending hundreds of extra dollars a month on tuition, we could swing it, if necessary. LB had such a great time at all her summer camps, especially seeing school friends.
And just like that, as the beginning of our self-proclaimed start of the year crept closer, the doubt crept in. What am I doing? Am I ruining her high school years? Her college experience? Her life? Is it really so important to homeschool? Where is my conviction, my zeal for this?
These are, for the most part, ridiculous concerns, and I'm well aware of it. I have a happy, healthy, functional-in-social-situations fourth grader. We have always taken each school year a year at a time. I know that we've left the door open for changes, but I just couldn't get any enthusiasm behind the school year.
So I did what I've found works best in many such situations, I faked it. I wrote out all the assignments in her assignment book for the first two weeks of school. I set a new no-screen-time rule during the primary school hours in a typical day. I prepared, and then, we jumped in.
Monday was Hubby's last workday off before the new schedule takes effect, so he and LB went to a theme park to close out the summer right.
On Tuesday, we began our school day. And it went just fine. Even with a trip to the local gymnastics center for SP's class, LB still finished her school work by lunchtime. In the afternoon, she did chores and began to work on her computer programming class. Day 1 a success.
This morning, LB was up early and had her school work completed by 9am. Since she finished so early, I told her we'd go spend the rest of the morning at the zoo. Off we went, on a cloudy day with an 80% chance of rain, to go see the animals. The rain held off, and right there, in the middle of the zoo, I found my homeschooling heart again. It was right there in watching my girls play together.
They're 7 years apart, but homeschooling allows them more time to get to know each other and play together. While they both have their own schedules and activities, nurturing that sisterly bond is precious to me. So walking up the path to see the giraffes, I watched them laughing and running in front of me, LB letting SP "win", both girls enjoying the sights and sounds of the animals. Right there, in the middle of that smelly, drizzly walk, I found that moment of grace to show me the beauty of what we're doing, the rightness, the gift, the goal.
LB has mentioned a desire to go to a traditional high school, so this season of our lives may fade into a more traditional landscape, but for now, for this year, the doubt has lifted and I am reminded of why we choose to live our lives as interwoven as we can. Family is precious and the bonds these girls are building will outlast me.
Thank you God for a beautiful start to our school year.