Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where to begin?

If you are reading my blog, I'm guessing it's probably because you are curious to see what has prompted me to be suddenly interested in Charlotte Mason and the philosophy of education. I have to say, I am just as surprised as you are about this! But that's why I am glad I have this safe place to write my thoughts; it will help me process all of the new information and hopefully bring our family to a decision.

Those of you who know me are aware that when I plunge into something, I go deep. I leave no stone unturned and want to get as much information as possible on the topic before proceeding. It's just in my DNA! If I am in, I'm in 100%, and I don't look back. That's how I came to the decision of having home births for all 3 of my kids, and wow, did that generate a lot of discussion! My family thought I was crazy, some friends thought I'd gone all "granola", and a few people supported me. (But I studied that topic thoroughly and even convinced my HMO to pay for it!)

I have to say, I never expected that I'd be one of "those" people- having babies at home and considering home schooling. I'm not a tree-hugger, and I don't hate the government. I am not trying to isolate my family for protection against immorality, and I have met asocial home schoolers who are incapable of holding a conversation with another 8-year-old. So I don't tread lightly on this decision; I want to look at it from all angles and find out as much as I can about it.

The big question is, why now? Why do I think I even need to consider home schooling or doing something different with my children's education? Good question! I am still trying to answer it myself. I currently have a 3rd grader and a 1st grader at a wonderful school walking distance away. We love all the teachers and the activities, and we couldn't be more thankful for our home and our friends here in the neighborhood. It really doesn't make any sense that I would pay taxes and not get to reap the benefits of public school, especially right in my own backyard. And what about their friends? Won't they miss seeing them every day in class and recess?

I agree, right now, it really doesn't make sense. But here's something Ellie said to me when she turned 9 this year that I can't get out of my head: "Mom, I'm half-way done living here!" She said it with a smile, but it knocked the wind out of me. It's as if I blinked, and suddenly she was 9, and I know that in another 2 blinks, she'll be 18 and ready to go to college. It has really made me evaluate the time I spend with her. How much time, how many hours do I really have before she leaves? How much of myself will I have invested in her? How much do I really know about what she is learning and what is shaping her character? I am always amazed to see her papers come home and listen to the teachers tell me how well she is doing. But I have to admit, part of it makes me sad. I want to know her and engage in ideas with her, not just for homework, but for the bulk of her learning. Is that selfish? Am I being idealistic? I don't know, but it's just how I feel.

And then there's the tyrant of the almighty Schedule. If you read my previous blog, you'll see that I lived under an extremely tight schedule for all of my years at home. I never thought I would repeat the cycle, but I have. Every morning starts with a list, like get dressed, brush your teeth and hair, get your socks and shoes, eat your breakfast, sign this paper, make sure you have your assignment and your library book, don't forget your lunch, quick kiss and hug, and then I watch 2 backpacks bob away off to school. As soon as they get home, it's time to have a snack, talk about the day, practice their instrument, go to tennis or gymnastics, get homework done, maybe play a little bit outside, and then dinner, showers, and bedtime. And then add to that the different activities we have on the weekends- serving in the worship team, going to Awana's, birthday parties, and possibly some free time squeezed in there somewhere? It's insanity! The Meinershagens are hamsters: we are on a wheel running and running, doing the same things over and over again, not getting anywhere. My heart questions, "Is this the only way? Is this what I want my kids to remember about living at home?"

I'm sure we could change the situation by taking a few activities away, or trying to serve less at the church, or lowering my expectations of what can be accomplished in a day. Those are definitely options. But for the first time, I've actually considered the fact that they spend 7 hours of their day at school, and if I got to choose how they spent those 7 hours, we might actually be able to breathe a little more even while we manage all our activities. It's an option, and I want to see if it will be the right one for our family. Am I scared? Yes. Will I still have a social life if I homeschool? I hope so! Do I know for sure this is what we are supposed to do? No- still praying. But what I do know is, something's gotta change. What will that be? I guess we will all find out!


Sarah said...

Welcome to my world! I knew it when I read about your book club re: Charlotte Mason. Many people don't know who she is!

SpringSnoopy said...

Gasp! (with a big smile on my face)

I responded to your first Charlotte Mason entry not yet having read this latest one.

I'm encouraged and delighted and wholeheartedly on the same page and stage of thought.

Heather said...

Sarah knows this, but we have seriously considered homsechooling at several points in the past 8 years. We actually did homeschool in the preschool years--I know that sounds silly to some, but intentionally did curriculum with Erik. And used Charlotte Mason via Sonlight. I loved doing it, and he learns incredibly well that way.

We were really leaning toward homeschooling this year. And then God led us somewhere entirely different than what we were praying for. So for now, not homeschooling. Though next year when the boys are at the same school where I work, I know it will be a pretty ideal set up. I'll see them at school, be in their classrooms sometimes helping out, eat lunch with them sometimes, know exactly what they're working on. I'm done working at 3:30, so still have a lot of time with them. We're too poor to do too many activities (haha), so we are home nearly every day after school.

this summer I will be summer home schooling the boys. Anders will be doing Sonlight, the old Core 1 (which makes no sense to you if you don't know anything about Sonlight). I'll probably be making up a curriculum for Erik, same concept as Sonlight, because I dont' want to buy a whole Core, but I may change my mind.

Anyway, I understand a lot of this. My reasons are somewhat different (we really aren't on a rat race type pace at all), but it's something we always consider. It helps that we've had some exemplary examples of homeschoolers around us.

I'll be praying for you in your journey. Remember that you even could homeschool for a few years, and then go back to public school. It doesn't have to be a forever thing. Just like life, schooling can be flexible and based on the needs of the individual child at that particular time.

Patty Juniper said...

I think it is very admirable for you to even consider this option. I have thought about it for Maggie, only briefly, as she is very bright and advanced. Bit I don't think I could homeschool her because of personality differences. She is very headstrong and we have arguements just doing homework! I have my teaching degree and would feel comfortable doing it, but for now I think we stick with public school. That choice may change, God will let me know. Good luck with your decision. I still want Maggie to meet the girls so they can play this summer. See you soon!

Kimberly said...

So encouraged to read your blog and thankful you've posted it on FB too! I heard you're coming in to town (per Annie) we need to talk as I too have been on the same journey and felt like I was reading my journal through this entry!! Look forward to talking more soon!