Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to school time...

My kids are attending a private christian school this year. There, I've said it. I've been a bit nervous about telling people, because I know there are wonderful lovely folks who I love and respect who will be unhappy about this.

Some have deep convictions that they should ONLY homeschool their children and that no-one outside of their family should teach them. Some just can't afford a good christian school, but are OK with using them.

Even if you are in the latter category, it can feel very strange to have a friend not homeschooling. I was in that place myself a few times. I couldn't imagine sending my sweet kiddos away, to a place of strangers. I remember crying because a very good friend who had kids close in age wasn't going to homeschool, as I had assumed. I had visions of co-oping with them, and joint field trips to the zoo, farms, etc.

Then I had 2 in school and a very busy toddler, combined with an increasing need to have a welcoming environment for my husband to come home to. (He had become a small business owner and was SUPER busy) I wasn't pulling it off. We were swimming in a sea of stress, chaos, and unhappiness daily, or just not getting the schoolwork done. I was having to choose, keeping on track with teaching, or keeping on track with my wifely duties.

Can a homeschooling Mom do all the school and house managing well? YES!
Can everyone do this in all seasons? Maybe not.
For our family, it became best for all parties for the kids to be in a classroom setting for at least a year. And of course, for me to focus more of my time on the other duties that had pretty much slid away in the chaos of trying to teach 2 grade levels simultaneously and clean up the baby's 3rd giant mess of the day. I want to able to do well, not just stay afloat.

So, having identified the issue, we brainstormed. We looked into help from both angles. Housecleaning, Christian school, laundry help, etc. We live in a fairly support group poor community... our church family has a few people who co-op together privately, but no formal homeschooling support group. I know of a single christian family that homeschools in our town. Beside, we live 30 minutes or more from most of the people at church with school age children. Merry maids was pretty expensive, and not all that we needed. A "Mother's helper" would have been useful, but I don't know anyone close by who could do that. We don't even have a local babysitter. (THANK YOU SO MUCH MOM!)

We had been talking about it a little bit, and were leaning toward school, and then we had an unexpected tax refund. It was the perfect timing of need and provision of funds.

So, here I am, rising early, packing lunch, driving, cleaning, driving, cooking and sleeping. It has been a whirlwind of a week, but I think after we adjust to the schedule, it should work quite well. The kids are doing very well, and their teachers are great.

Does this mean we will never homeschool again? Probably not.

Does this mean we will no longer be involved in the church homeschool community? NO WAY! I would love to get a group going to support other moms in the same position. Crashing and burning is no fun, and we should be involved in "one another-ing" one another. Maybe we don't all have to be the does-it-all-by-herself-super-mom all the time. :-)


  1. I'm glad you are able to do this at least this year! Lauren is taking a Logic class through Veritas online this year and I love having one less thing to teach. If I could find a local classical Christian school where my older kids could take some classes, I would jump all over it.

    I'm thinking when Grae gets to be a middle schooler, I want him to attend a rigorous Christian school. I think boys especially benefit from teachers other than their mothers but that is just my opinion.

    Anyway, hope this works out for you! Is it a long drive?

  2. Amen to that! I've thought about it quite a lot, even though we aren't there yet. Though we most definitely plan on homeschooling in the early years in particular, we aren't at all opposed to good, Christian schools and would love for our children to be able to take at least some classes elsewhere. All that, in part, because we both more or less "crash and burn," or otherwise fail to function if the home isn't well in order--and I've wondered how well I'll do that with school aged children and toddlers when that time comes. Because, Lord willing, we're not anticipating stopping on the children front just yet! So, in the next couple of years, I'd be VERY interested in a co-op...

  3. As a mom who had to homeschool and actively participated in changing the laws so we could leagally, I think it is great you can choose to put them in a great school instead!

  4. How neat that you could examine the situation and decide together how to address your priorities. I'm on the other extreme of all your friends. I think Christian kids should be in public schools! I taught 8th grade English at a public school in Florida for 3 years, and I saw what a difference just a few "good" kids with parents who cared could make to a classroom. But if I had children myself, I would be very conflicted between wanting them to be salt and light in the public school system here in NYC and wanting them to get the best education possible so that they could have the most opportunities later.

    It's also probably different here in the U.S. My parents were missionaries in Vietnam and the Philippines, so I had several years of homeschooling that I hated because I'm a social person. My sister homeschooled all 5 of her children in FL (each 2 years apart, but she's a super messy housekeeper who's very laidback), and they had a ton of social opportunities through their church and coops. We didn't have that in our small villages overseas. Her kids have turned out great (the youngest is now 16).

    If you do decide to return to homeschooling, you may want to be careful that your kids are prepared for your decision. I attended a boarding school for MK's in Manila for 5th grade while my parents attended language school. I assumed I would go to exciting middle school with the rest of my classmates and was shocked and devastated when my parents almost absentmindedly informed me that, "No, you're going to be with us, taking correspondence school." Some kids would have been delighted with that news, but not me. Several of my friends who are now missionaries are noticing that one size doesn't fit all for their own children, either.

  5. Dear Darlene,

    Thanks for the comments, it is always fun to see who read the blog. I LOVE your red violet blog! --I too am in the larger than D boat... :-)

    I would have to disagree with you though. It seems to me that education is not neutral. I am committed to teaching my children in a specifically Christ centered way.

    At this point my kids aren't ready to be salt and light to that extend, they are unformed, their light is still growing.

    They would need to have a solid, mature faith to go alone into a pagan environment where the authorities are prohibited from teaching that Christ is king in the classroom. Not only leaving Jesus out of the room, but more and more teaching that other things are more important than He is, the environment, self image, other religions etc. Grown christian "kids" have a hard enough time with this at college, and my 7 year old is not ready for that kind of confusion!

    Even if my kids would rather not homeschool, I would expect them to "obey their parents in the Lord" and respect our decisions. Obviously, we would talk about our plans for the next year with the kids well before the first day of school.

    I agree that one size doesn't fit all children well in terms of learning style, etc, but Christ is our center, and our children should be raised to focus on his standards, as found in His word, not the trends of the day. In that sense a Christ centered education does fit all.

  6. Please forgive the numerous typos, grammatical errors, etc. I am running out the door to pick up the wee ones. :-)

  7. I love the uniforms! Veritas is a great school and I think your kids will really enjoy going there and will get really great instruction. One thing that I liked about Veritas is how they integrate formal art training into their other subjects. I loved walking into their classrooms and seeing the kids' work on the walls--real art. Obviously they receive formal instruction from someone who knows what they are doing!

    Blessings on your choice to private school. Every year is a new opportunity to follow God's leading in this area. Circumstances are real, keeping our sanity is critical, having the energy to be a helpful companion to our husband (not a frazzled crisis in the making) is essential, and providing a home that people actually want to live in are important too. We have to delegate. That is the joy of living in community!

  8. Lana, we should talk about what kind of support networks we could put together. I would love to have some sort of "Christian training" support group, something that includes education (not specifically school or home) but also includes encouragement in the training areas like obedience, scripture knowledge, etc. Parenting (and being married too) is a HARD job, and it's no easier for us second generation Christian parents who grew up this way than it was for our parents.

  9. I just realized today that you got my comment. I thought it had been lost last Sunday and thought, "It's just as well! I don't want to offend." I definitely see where you're coming from, and I know as a Christian teacher in a public school, I certainly felt hampered in what I could share with my students.