However, this year homeschooling was the best option for our specific situation. I stand by this decision.
Now that the school year is over and we look ahead to the fall, our path is equally clear: the kids have been re-enrolled in their traditional school.
Nobody had a normal-for-them school year. I know I’m not alone when I say there were many ups and downs. I’m left with plenty of positive takeaways from an experience I never expected to have, and even more appreciation for what we call education.
I Won’t Miss
- The anxiety. There were moments when I panicked about the blind spots in my curriculum. My kids will return to “normal” school and be subject to its assessments and their fellow students’ pace. What if I missed something that puts them behind?
- The lack of separation. When your classroom doubled as the toddler’s bedroom, it’s hard to distinguish between language arts and poopy diapers. When was I Mom and when was I the trained professional in charge?
- The meltdowns. I adore the idea of Montessori trays that engage two-year-olds in self-directed learning. However, I failed to fully implement the concept and ended up with a toddler more likely to yell his lungs out than thread the beads. This proved to be contagious and our “classroom” more likely than not featured three crying students (and one crying adult) than three productive individuals.
I Will Miss
- The learning detours. Curriculum is lovely and I treasured my planning hours when I analyzed state standards and the wide variety of free resources wonderful teachers have made available on the internet. However, my favorite teaching moments were those when a random kid question launched us onto a quest for answers. You can’t plan for these moments nor can you predict where they’ll take you. These are much easier to explore when you have 2½ students rather than 30.
- The freedom. Our strict “school” schedule had us done by noon on most days and we tended to take “adventure” days whenever possible. The 8:00 – 3:00 schedule wasn’t necessary for our version of school and we took full advantage of that.
- Their process. As much as I loved the finished projects and ultimate evidence of their progress, my favorite part of working with my kids was witnessing their process. I got to watch everything from the expressions on their faces as they were mulling a problem to the frustration when understanding seemed out of reach to the actual moment of enlightenment when it all suddenly made sense. It was pretty great.
At the end of our school year, my supportive husband put together a slideshow of our times together. By the end of it, our second grader was in tears begging me to be his teacher next year. I attributed such emotion to his love of the flexible schedule and his generally introverted nature, but still, it was an unexpected endorsement.
Homeschooling is an incredibly massive undertaking, and I respect those who choose to do it permanently. For us, I will always treasure our year at home and happily respect the work our new teachers bless us with next year.