I'm thinking about homeschooling again.
I've always had the heart of a homeschooler, but never had the determination or organization to make it work for us.
I actually homeschooled Abby for the better part of her kindergarten year. I've always viewed it as one of my epic parenting failures, and confess to breathing a sigh of relief the first time I sent her off on the school bus, but the girls still frequently talk about the fun things we did that year, so perhaps it wasn't the disaster I thought it was.
I really feel the education my kids are getting is sub-par. I'm not sure if it's the district, the schools, the teachers or what, but it just doesn't seem like there's a lot of learning going on. Ashlynn has gotten the raw end of the deal this year with a teacher who has been gone with health problems more than she's actually been in the classroom. There's not much learning can actually get done when you're as familiar with the various substitutes as you are with her teacher. And Abby's class isn't much better. The better part of the third grade year at the girls' school is devoted to putting together a Disney Program full of costumes, songs and dances from Disney movies. Now, I support music and performing as much as anyone, but when days and weeks at a time are devoted to rehearsing "Kiss the Girl" from "The Little Mermaid," I start to wonder.
The school is constantly having assemblies. More than once my girls have come home and told me they watched movies in PE. I don't want to be the mean fun killing mom who insists on academics at all costs, and blames the terrible school system for everything without offering up any solutions, but come on! Movies in PE? Seriously?
But there are other factors too. The more involved my kids get in their musical instruments, the more they both need me. The sad truth is, there's just not enought time between 7:00 am when everyone is supposed to start their practicing and 8:25 when they're supposed to leave for school for me to spend adequate time and energy with my pianist, my violinist, the crying baby, and the demanding toddler, make the lunches and get everyone out the door on time when all I really want to do is go back to bed. I hate being pulled in a million different directions and feelng like I'm short changing all four of my kids simultaneously.
We're also hoping to move sometime in the next few months. Somehow, 4 kids and 2 bedrooms just isn't working, and we need a bigger place. We'll be staying in the valley, but a lot of the homes we're looking at are in the boundaries of the school we had such terrible experiences with last year, and I will not send them back there. There are, of course, ways I could send them to another school in the valley, but it just doesn't address the nagging feelings that both my husband and I have had that the girls might be better off at home.
I know it wouldn't be all sunshine, lollipops and fluffy bunnies. In fact, I seriously wonder at my abilities to cope with all four of my children all day everyday, and be responsible for their education on top of that. (Especially on days like today- we're only on the second day of spring break and the chorus of "I'm bored!" was deafening at times!) But part of me wonders if things might move more smoothly if our family wasn't forced into an artificial school schedule.
Yesterday was delightful. By noon, all the chores had been done, Ashlynn had done nearly an hour of piano, Abby had done almost 2 hours of violin, and I'd been able to spend significant time with both of them. The girls practice so much better at any time but 7 am (and I can't say I blame them!) and practicing with both girls was so much more productive than it usually is. I felt less rushed, and I'm sure that translated into a more casual environment for them. I think that bringing the girls home would create a better, less rushed, and more productive environment for all of us. I think we could get the chores, practicing, and school part of our day all done in the time the girls are usually at school, leaving their afternoons free while I am teaching.
But then I wonder. What do I do about doctor's appointments? Grocery shopping? I've mentioned several times how I would rather poke myself in the eye repeatedly with a toothpick than take all four kids grocery shopping, but if all four are home with me all day, I don't think I have much of a choice. And I'd have to forget about those spontaneous mornings out with my mom friends and the quiet hours in the afternoon when the baby is sleeping and Max is watching his one movie for the day.
I'm wondering if I'm really sane even thinking about this. But I'm also wondering if it's the best thing for them and for my family.
So I know I have a lot of homeschooling friends that are readers here. How do you make it work for your family? How do you balance everything? Do you still find time for yourself and your own pursuits?