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!