Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homeschooling or not, I'm still a mom!

For those of you who thought my blog would remain all about homeschooling, I apologize that I have to make this announcement: We are sending the girls to public school next year.

Why? After all you've researched? After everything you've written about? After the incredible year you've had?

Yes. It has truly been the most wonderful year, the girls have grown immensely, we have bonded with each other, and I will never regret our decision to homeschool this year.

Here's the big "but." When we decided to homeschool, we had 3 main objectives: Ellie needed to get a better foundation for her math skills, Chloe needed to become a better reader, and Sophie needed some more time with her sisters. I am so thankful that we accomplished all of those objectives this year, and that all three girls began to see learning as a lifelong endeavor, not an 8-3 chore. Homeschooling has changed the way we all see education; it is about connections. Can I make a connection to what I just read or learned to something else? Can I attach meaning and significance to it, whether it is history, reading, science, spelling, Shakespeare, math, or the Bible? If so, I've just made it my own and it's become part of me. I credit Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education for the huge perspective change that I have and that my kids now have too. (Well, maybe not Sophie yet, but for sure Ellie and Chloe!)

So why send them back to the evil public school where they will lose all that?

Here's where I disagree. I don't think public school is evil and will make them lose everything. Sure, they won't get what they got at home. Everyone knows that a student gets more out of private lessons than group lessons! But for our family's purposes, we did not commit to homeschool through graduating high school. I believed that re-entry to public school was going to happen eventually. So in order to prepare for that, I really wanted to take a year to do everything privately, to give them a better foundation, to change their thinking, to broaden their understanding of history and time, to strengthen their character, to get to know them better as people, and to give opportunities to do things they hadn't done before- in order that they might be better suited for what comes when they enter back into the world of public school. I wanted them to have a new mind and change in attitude when they returned.

You may disagree with that objective. Why homeschool if you're going to send them back anyway? What's the point?

All I can say is I have no regrets. I am 100% convinced that I was supposed to homeschool this year. How? Prayer, confirmation through circumstances, asking for wisdom from God, and seeing the blessings of my girls thrive. It was the best year and I can't think of one thing that I would change! Their knowledge and understanding has exploded, their faith has grown incredibly, and their love for one another is stronger than ever. Who knows why God chose this year for me to keep them? Who can explain the mysteries of what might have happened at school had they gone, or what complexities there are in each of my girls' personality and character that they needed that extra year of secure, foundational love from staying home to become more of the people they were created to be?

So you have to believe me that when I say we are sending them back to public school, it is with that same conviction, though the specifics remain a mystery to me. Who knows how God might want to use my girls at school? Who knows what relationships He wants them to have, or how they can be a blessing to others as they are a blessing to me? Perhaps His purpose for them is to grow them in a new and challenging way through public school?

I can only take things a step at a time. Though these are the next steps for us as a family in the coming year, I firmly believe we are walking with God's protection and guidance.

Let me just say that if you are a homeschooling mom, I respect you immensely. I know you are doing what you are doing with great conviction and great love. I admire your dedication, patience, and drive! And if you are a public or private school mom, I respect you just the same! I know that you love your kids immensely and you are equally dedicated to your kids with passion and drive. I implore all of us moms not to be divisive and judge each other for our decisions regarding our children's education, but to support each other in continuing to do the hardest but most rewarding job on earth- being a mother. With Mother's Day around the corner, I say with my whole heart that I am honored to be a mom and travel this road with all of the other moms I know. We all share the same innate love for our kids that no one can quite understand unless you are one of us! So whether or not I'm a homeschool mom, a public school mom, a good mom or a bad mom, I am still a mom, and that will be a title that I will cherish forever.