Thursday, January 25, 2018

Homeschooling: The Winding Down Years

We’ve been off school this week…our monthly week off (we school year-round).  I’ve been using the time not so much to rest (I’m still getting over being sick) as to take care of a growing to-do list of tasks that needed to be done.  I completed a bunch of paperwork and mailings and filing of documents and that sort of thing.  I returned/exchanged a deep freezer that died after only a few months.  I ran some errands.  I signed the kids up for soccer and selected a pediatrician under our new insurance.  You know…all that nuisance stuff that isn’t a big deal on its own but that adds up to blocks of time you don’t always have every day.

Now that the little but important things are mostly taken care of, I stayed up last night preparing school for the next few weeks, and finishing my copying for the remainder of the school year so I don’t have to do this every month.  Normally, I get the whole year ready before the school year starts, but with the move last year that happened right when I would have been getting that stuff ready, there just wasn’t time to get it all prepared before it all got packed up.

That led me to start thinking through the next school year, which starts in June for us, and making lists of what I’ll need to buy to complete the curriculum I’m planning to use for Holden.  You’ll notice I didn’t say “and Haylee.”  That’s because this is Haylee’s LAST year of homeschooling.  Pretty soon, I’ll be registering her for public school here, as she’ll be starting high school in the fall.  I believe very strongly in sending my kids to public high school.  I think it’s an important experience for them to have, not only to try out different subjects, clubs, and sports to find out what they are most interested in, but also to experience other people in the world who are different from them…not only diversity, but also different personalities and backgrounds…good and bad.  You see, I’d rather they experience that while still at home with me, where I can help guide them through the shock of it.  It’s territory that is all new to them. 

I remember when Hayden first went to public high school.  His was a charter school for kids in an advanced program called IB, so that was a nice transition for him…smaller classes, hand-picked teachers, advanced classes…and mentors assigned to each student.  But because the charter school was inside of a regular high school, he still got exposed to a lot.  I remember his tales of fights in the lunch room, lockdowns, guns on students, and public displays of things that shouldn’t be public.  But as a whole, it was a good experience for him, and he learned how to deal effectively with people and situations that were new to him.  That’s what I want for all of my kids.  We can’t shelter them forever.

But as I began planning the homeschool year for Holden, I realized that it will very soon be just the two of us doing school together!  It has not been that way for such a long, long time.  It reminds me of my early days of homeschooling only Hayden.  How strange that will be!  But in a way, it will also be kind of nice.  I hope to make the year more fun…to do some field trips and get some “extras” that will make learning fun again.  Because of his ADHD, he really needs the extra attention and the lack of distraction of another student in the house, so it will probably be a positive change for him in terms of his learning.  This is the period where it was most difficult with Hayden, too.  Post-puberty, the ADHD symptoms improve so much, but this is the crucial time where I need to adapt the approach and make it work for him so he establishes good work habits for the years to come.

I just have 4 more years of homeschooling to go before Holden heads off to public high school himself!  That seems so surreal to me.  I’ve been at this job for 15 years now!  So as I enter this transition stage of winding down from homeschooling, I realize it won’t be long before the next stage comes of not homeschooling at all, and soon after, perhaps being an empty nester!  Life is changing all too quickly now.  Where did the years go?  I shed a little tear for the changes to come…how I miss my babies in all their cuteness, learning and growing and discovering new things every day!  But alas, God tells us there is a season for all things, so I realize there are new things in store for us just around the corner!