Some of you know us well enough to know that up until very recently, we were pretty die-hard city mice. One of the toughest parts of our decision to leave city life behind was leaving our beloved Waldorf school. Our whole family loved the place and I was so looking forward to sending Noah there too when the time was right.
We weren’t able to find any favorable alternatives to public school when we moved to the country in July of 2013. This is why we decided to home school our kids until a better solution presented itself, or until we were ready to travel the world as a family (our long-term dream). The role of teacher fell to me, while Nekky and Sarah both work at their own jobs full time. Fast forward eight months, and the time has come to assess where we are at with our plans and our goals. We aren’t ready to take on the world just yet, so what’s the plan for September?
I’ve really enjoyed our homeschool journey, and the freedom and flexibility it has offered us. However, there is so much that I can’t give the girls that they are missing out on. Trying to balance life, work, school, toddler-rearing, is truly exhausting, so I find myself just focusing on the basics in our classroom – covering the most rudimentary subjects, leaving little time for more creative pursuits or games. The girls get two lengthy outdoor recesses, and they are terrific playmates for one another, but it’s just not the same without classmates. They miss their peer group, and I miss the school community too. It was nice interacting with other humans each day, and I miss assemblies and parent nights.
Also, any parent knows that children behave much differently at home than they do when there is a teacher to impress, and classmates to surround them. Our girls are great, but managing their quirks and challenges became really taxing. I would never in a million years sign up to become a teacher in the conventional sense, I don’t have the patience to handle so many little personalities all at once. In fact, handling two is taking all the gumption I’ve got, and I adore those two people!
If we were travelling, if there were no other options to consider locally, I would continue on with homeschool in the fall, learning from the mistakes we made this year. We’d make sure there were extra curricular activities where we could make new friends, I’d change our scheduling to focus more on each girl for longer stretches, and I’d devote one day per week to games and creativity. I’d do a lot of things differently, but we found a very interesting school in town, and so we’re going to give it a shot in the fall.
These days, homeschooling is bitter sweet. I know the end is in sight, for now anyway, so I’m trying to really enjoy the time we have, and I’m trying to relax more and make sure the girls enjoy each day. Part of me is also looking ahead to a life where my focus shifts again to other work, and finally an opportunity to focus on my writing in a fresh new way. There are lots of things unfolding here, and it feels right on so many levels.
This time with my children has been beautiful, and so valuable – as challenging as it has been rewarding. I’m so grateful that we tried this, and I hope that the next time we open the books on homeschooling, we’re living on a beach in Thailand.
Don’t be afraid to deviate from what you thought was the best plan. We’re meant to bend and stretch and grow, and something better always lies around the bend.