Kindergarten, not Kindergarden. It’s one of those little pointless things that get to me. Same with people spelling Congradulations instead of congratulations. It’s misspelled to be cute on a few greeting cards and our whole country is confused over it for eternity. The “garden” is cuter, the “grad” seems clever. I know, I know…. I think about how often it’s misspelled every time I write one of these two years. So, that’s what I’m thinking about now, of course. Spelling quirks, with the irony that I misspell very often and claim exemption (see bottom of page here) from editing my posts based on the brood of kids hanging over my should, or loads of laundry, or sink-full(now, let’s be honest counter-full) of dishes. My poor best friend Kathryn can hardly bear to read me because it’s so bad… Ah, well. She loves me anyway… These two words Kindergarten and congratulations. They irk me when misspelled. And both of them are on my mind today.
This morning I attended my sweet Jake’s kindergarten graduation from a public school. Somehow it has me feeling introspective on this unorthodox and unexpected journey of educating our children that we’ve gone down. With my four little ones dancing around and displaying their best “SCHOOL’S OUT!” antics I sat on the couch this afternoon and revisited my old blog post about making the decision to put Selah into kindergarten. It was such an emotion decision at the time. After years of saying that I would do it if I “had to” I realized that I hadn’t really “expected to”. To be honest, when I wrote that post, it never occurred to me that 3 years later some of my children would still be in the public school! And with 2 more years to go.
As much as I wanted to be the mom who could do it all, I’ve learned over the past few years that balance is something that you have to fight for on a daily basis. And what I’m fighting is my own feelings of guilt, insecurity and dread of making mistakes. We’ve taken it one step at a time and each year I really have had to “Put my money where my mouth is” like I posted about three years ago. I said I’d never HS just because I wouldn’t “not homeschool”. I can’t keep my kids home for school if I know that it’s not best right now. We have four kids in one bedroom. I work a very “full” part-time calendar as a labor doula. I absolutely LOVE what I do. Each birth and each family that I serve blesses me beyond what I could ever put into words. And if we are ever going to finish this house before our children are so crammed they become physically conjoined, I need to be bringing in some income for that. And I also have to dedicate several hours a week to cooking for the allergy crew since we are unable to rely on anything typical without causing serious consequences to my and my children’s health. Anyone with 4+ children can also understand the time and energy that laundry, bath times (1 tub/6 people), hair cuts, clothes supplying, patient disciplining, and loving on can take out of you!! I have moments where I feel disappointed. My heart wants them home. Then my exhaustion reminds me that I am VERY blessed to have an amazing elementary school with wonderful teachers and staff that I really can trust my children to for a short time.
Selah completed first and half of second grade at the elementary school. We intended to hold off on homeschooling until this fall but decided in December to bring her home. Oh the phone calls and emails I got! The questions from other parents at the school!! What HAPPENED!?!?! Well, ultimately, not much. There were a few small issues. I’m not gonna lie. Things that I knew could be easily corrected by talking to teachers and/or principal. Nothing serious. Really, it was just time. What I kept reminding them was that our original intention had always been to homeschool. The fact that we sent her, and are now sending each of the boys through K and 1st is what they should be asking questions about! Because we never thought we would. Ironically, the school is more understanding and supportive of the way we are doing this than I expected. Selah and I even went and “volunteered” there this week for the Annual Fun Run as part of her homeschool day!
I’ve been HSed and seen HSers for 28 years now. Yeah. TWENTY EIGHT since my mother started homeschooling me. Clearly I’m thankful for having been HSed. I know that it’s made me who I am, and my husband (HSed middle and high school) the man he is. But, we saw plenty of it done wrong, too. I’ve seen “unschooling” destroy education for children who’s parents just couldn’t dare make them learn anything if it wasn’t their own personal choice. I’ve seen children so structured and/or overly ” homeschool socialized” that I think they had ulcers before they hit puberty. I’ve heard “Oh he’s getting it, he’s getting it” for years and years, time lost because a mom in denial holds the key to an education where letting specialists help could have changed her child’s future. And I’ve seen HSed children excel beyond belief to be the most amazing, powerful, confident people I’ve ever met!!! In my own life, I know that it’s what makes me able to go beyond the constraints of “But I don’t know how.” to “Well I can figure that out.” because knowing how to self-educate is a gift that will last my whole lifetime. I know that it gave my husband the work ethic that had astounded his employers past and present to the point that he has gone much farther in a career path than he ever thought possible 10 years ago. It is STILL what I want for my children.
Once again, I go back to that post 3 years ago, where I determined to lay down my self and trust God to guide us. I really thought it would just last a year so that I could get my feet under me. My feet are under me, but to keep them there I know that I can’t teach the time consuming fundamentals that my boys are getting in K and 1st which will prepare them to come home when I am able to add it into the balance. I refuse to make homeschooling my identity, even if it is a huge part of my heart and where I want to be. It will not become my pride or my badge of honor. It has to be what is right for my kids, each of them and I have to keep searching out God’s will for each season individually. We will take it slow and follow the plan. I am so, so proud of my sweet little man who graduated Kindergarten today. I am so thankful that we have a school where he can attend 1st grade and that Lucas can now attend Kindergarten! There’s a part of me that’s sad about it. It’s not my “ideal”. I get treated like an unexperienced half-a@$ homeschooler, and I get looks from parents at school for pulling Selah out. It’s hard to explain and confuses people. I know that. This is not where we expected to be. But it is where we are and my children are thriving. And, as always, I am blessed and thankful for not conforming, even if it has it’s own hardships. The end.
Jake with his amazing Kindergarten teacher