The Big Schooling Decision: how I flunked homeschool
Well, maybe flunked is a harsh term, but I am definitely a drop-out homeschooling mama! When we decided to enroll our oldest in first grade at our local Catholic school a year before he actually went, I was flooded || plagued || haunted by feelings of guilt. Even as the two oldest still get to romp//play//fight out at the Lodge on weekends.
Maybe you’ve struggled with this decision, too. Hopefully you’ve had the space and time to evaluate and figure out what’s best for your family without feeling judged by yourself or others.
Guilt that being an educated at home mom meant I shouldn’t need to rely on other educators.
Guilt that tuition is, well, it’s not free, and I’m not working (see point one).
Guilt that I don’t have ample energy to provide my eager little learners with enriching educational experiences on a regular basis.
Guilt that I was eeking out of some etherial duty that Catholic moms have of home-educating their children.
I also went from being a virulent I can totally homeschool let’s do this forever! when I had a three year old and a one year old to okay! more workbooks and audio stories on your own while I take care of the baby with three kids in four years and then this past year I can’t leave the house much because I’m throwing up and you want to do another science experiment thank GOD you’re going to school in the fall.
The kicker for us was that pregnancy is so debilitating with hyeremesis and multiple IVs for fluid loss. We knew we hoped for another baby. But we also knew realistically what pregnancy would look like.
I argued with myself at first when we decided to homeschool kinder & then send him for first grade.
I didn’t want to admit that being with me all day long wasn’t what was best for him–my bright inquisitive curious oldest born who wanted so much to experience knowledge more viscerally than even the best Jim Weiss cds could offer. And we’ve listened to almost all of them. Story of the World four times through.
Eventually I saw how he longed for much more than I could give. Swallowing pride, I’ve embraced being a school mom.
School has been wonderful for him. He is delighted and thrilled. He says he had a great day every day. He loves his teachers and little friends. He loves the variety of activities they do. He loves that religion class is three times a week, and one of those times they go to Adoration. He loves that everyday they pray a decade of the Rosary in their classroom during quiet time. He loves his little desk.
I’m finding in my transition to a school mom that the most challenging parts physically (getting up & at ’em, making his lunch, doing homework and packing his bag) have been eclipsed by the myriad of opportunities to talk about how we should act and howe we should treat others. I would pay money again and again for this opportunity for him to navigate relating to the world in a safe & loving environment.
We talk about how to treat other’s bodies with respect, including language used for your bottom (booty isn’t going to cut it, buddy). We talk about including the kid that annoys you. We brainstorm how to handle when you feel rushed during an assignment or, conversely, bored during instructions. We talk about what it means to have a feeling and honor it without unloading it onto other people.
These gems! These little nuggets of conversation where I get to see how he sees the world and he’s still little enough to listen to my view on things! They’re more precious to me than anything. I couldn’t manufacture these as a homeschooling mom under my circumstances. Character formation above all else has been the most enriching part of his school experience.
The confusing part for many Catholic or Christian moms might be what I struggled with: is there a moral obligation to homeschool your children? Akin to the discussion of whether or not being a working mom is a moral question (I’ve written about this: it’s not, in my mind), it’s a genuine struggle for many moms. Can we afford private school? What are our public school options? Can our family handle homeschool? Can me, moi, I as the primary caretaker both caretake and homeschool? How are my other children doing? How is my marriage doing? I contend there is no moral obligation to homeschool your kiddo, and that, instead, the obligation sits in prayerfully and carefully discerning what’s best for each kid and what’s best for your family.
If you love homeschool, or even like it, and it works for you, that is so awesome and I totally respect you!
If you love public school or private school, Catholic school or non-religious school, and it’s working for you, I totally respect you!
There are many ways to educate a child and I don’t even know that we will go this route for all our kids! But it’s working beautifully for now and for that I am so, so grateful.
And this is what we do when he’s away . . .
And visit him at school when he has a presentation to give!