What I understand now that I didn’t before, regarding my work, is that when you love what you do the drive you have is unstoppable and you will find a way to keep moving forward. I wake up before the rest of the house wakes up to learn, I listen to podcasts in the car and when I cook and clean to learn, and I read any spare moment I have to learn.
– Melinda McCoy via Design Mom
We finished our third year of home school at the end of May. The turquoise school cart in the dining room is cleared of textbooks, math flashcards, and random bits of paper, and turned into a summer art cart, year-end reports submitted, Judah and Amelie’s portfolios are complete, and we’re spending June taking a deep breath.
We did it! We completed a whole, legal school year at home, in the midst of adoption and discipline and attachment and sibling adjustments.
Today I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment, coupled with gratitude, because of course I didn’t get here on my own. I had lots of help and support.
I think the thing I marvel most over is that we didn’t just limp along in this hardest-of-years. We actually thrived. Yes there were days I wanted to throw in the towel, but when I look back on the whole sweep of our year, it was my favorite homeschooling year thus far.
It just felt right.
David and I knew that when we chose to adopt Gabe and Noah, we may be saying “no” to homeschooling in the future. We just didn’t know what their needs would be, what their personalities were like. What has worked so far may need to change to suit our changed family. So we decided to give it one year, both for the sake of family bonding, and to find out, Can this thing be done? Does it work for all of our kids? Does it drive Mommy insane?
So we embarked, however imperfectly. I made a plan and bought curriculum and enrolled the boys in our homeschool community, Classical Conversations. Gabriel spent this year in the 4K class, and Noah in the nursery.
I stumbled a good bit, and I was very, very tired — mostly with the interruptions and the discipline and inability to focus one one task more than three minutes (so I guess the answer is yes, some days it drove Mommy insane). But gradually it got better. And better. Obedience grew, attention spans lengthened, ability to self-entertain developed.
Not only that; we saw that our new boys were sponges. They wanted to be apart of everything. They did CC memory work and found countries on the map and drew pictures and colored and played play-doh and made many messes.
One thing I can say for Gabe and Noah is they jump into life feet-first with a zest previously unknown to our family. And in doing so they made homeschooling — harder at times, yes — but better.
Learning together at home gives me a chance to put aside the cycle of necessary busyness in my day (laundry, dishes, house-keeping), and engage my children. It is the best way I know as a mom to spend quality time with them.
I am not good at lots of things. I don’t do crafts or science projects, I’m not really a “teacher” per se, who writes my own lessons and stands at a whiteboard to explain them. I’m not good at math. I’m not quick to draw my kids into cooking or cleaning projects. I don’t do nature study.
But there are things I’m good at.
I’m good at discovering our family vision for education at home, and sticking doggedly to it. I’m good at creating a peaceful, colorful home that inspires us all to be learners. I’m good at researching curriculum, and tweaking subjects to better suit each child. I’m no school teacher, but I’m good at asking questions of experts and listening to wise counsel and being humble enough to change things I’m doing wrong.
I’m good at finding ways to compensate for my weaknesses (i.e. Classical Conversations and a math curriculum that’s scripted so I don’t have to teach it myself). I’m good at finding books my kids enjoy and reading lots, and also inspiring my children to read just because they want to. I’m good at giving them art supplies and a big fenced-in backyard to make art and discover nature on their own.
This year there are things I have done well, and things I’ve done poorly. There are areas I need to push myself in and change. And I am at peace with all of it.
Schooling my kids at home feels like discovering a job that I love. It’s not perfect; it’s definitely not always easy, but it’s beautiful.
And seeing it work for our family this year, in spite of some pretty big odds, gives me a new settledness in our journey.
Of course David and I plan to take any education decision we make a year at a time, a kid at a time. However. This year was the year I began to seriously contemplate homeschooling through high school. All the way. Yep, I know I could be crazy, and that’s why I said contemplate. I’ve long learned to give up saying “always” or “never” as a parent.
And so, at this point, all I’ll say is that we plan to keep on with our school-at-home journey.
So I spend my summer energy ordering curriculum for next year, getting our supplies in order, tweaking our daily schedule, squeezing in a few podcasts. I love the slower pace and freedom from school days, but I miss them too. I love hearing Judah ask if he’ll get to continue cursive next year and what his cursive textbook looks like, and what books we’ll be reading aloud together. I smile when Amie wants to practice reading together so she’ll get faster. I marvel that Gabe continues to find letters and practice their sounds.
Learning never stops.
I’m thankful for rest and I can’t wait for next year.