This was previously posted at catholicinasmalltown.com on July 9th, 2015
My husband and I had an honest discussion about the state of our homeschool.
Here's the gist of how my side of the conversation went. Please note that these are all thoughts that I have had over the last few months, moving out of the eighth year of homeschooling my children. These thoughts also follow on the heel of getting test results back on the yearly test that I get my kids to take. And though I think standardized tests are stupid, I somehow manage to put weight in the results anyway. Ok, here's kind of how my side of this went. Also note that I was crying through most of this.
"I just feel like you're disappointed in me, in the way that our children have turned out. That it's all my fault that B can't read well, or spell well, or write sentences with punctuation. And I worry about it, too. I worry that I've messed up and that you blame me and that it's all my fault that I've gotten it all wrong. Thinking about my kids and homeschooling brings up all these things that I loath in myself. My need for alone time and how I am not crafty or artsy and that I'm an inconsistent, undisciplined, lazy person, and always have been! I get these end of the year test results and I think I HAVE FAILED. I HAVE FAILED MY CHILDREN. I know they are smart, so smart. And imaginative. And happy. But they spend too much time in front of screens. I know this. And I feel powerless in many ways to stop them because I'M ON MY SCREEN, TOO.
And I war within myself with how I really feel about SCHOOL. Like as a concept. Especially when they are under the age of 9. Our kids have been read to since they were born. We read "To Kill a Mockingbird" out loud for goodness sake! I find it hard to believe that these children won't grow up and learn for themselves what they need to know when they need to know it. They have the basics. They can read. Well, J can't but he can take numbers apart and put them back together in ways that surprise me.
But they think big thoughts. And we have time to talk to them about that stuff because we aren't yelling at them in the morning to get ready for school and in the evening to FINISH THEIR HOME WORK. Because it's all homework and there's tomorrow. And I'm the teacher and I'm giving them an extension. And no one's going to fire me if their test results aren't improving.
And I work too much. Or rather, if I didn't work as much as I do (or not at all) then our school days would be more consistent and there might be more science experiments and art projects. But we are comfortable with the amount I'm working and we still are able to go on long field trips and camping trips and visit the High and go to Washington, D.C.
And I can't put them in school. I think about it and I just can't. This is the life we've chosen for them and for us, and as much as there are days when I question every decision, there are days when I listen to other moms talk about school and bullies and drugs and teachers who don't care and stress over meaningless tests and I think...WE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE."
(I don't think I actually said all this, but I said some of it. And Mac listened to my rant. And I did let him speak...a little.)
I don't know that I solved any of what I was feeling. I still question my choices and my ability to do a good job at this. But I also do love my life and trust my boys to take what we have given them, which I hope is a love of learning, the tools to find out what they need to know when they need to know it, and the space to let their imaginations thrive (oh and reading and math...we made sure they could do reading and math) and move forward into their lives with all the hope in the world.