Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Penultimate Part of the Series about Home Educating My Chidlren

Shining Light on the Boogie Man in the Closet:

So off we went to meet the Vice Principle. I begged my husband to go with me, because I was frightened, Auntie Em, frightened! I had our records for our son, to "prove" he had been schooled. I had all my defensive armor on, ready to stand up for my decisions. And then didn't need any of them. The vice principle was very nice, very respectful and quite helpful. He pulled together a schedule for our son, gave us a quick run down, and the amount of tuition, and said, "Here is what we can do for you. It is your decision to make, so if we get a tuition check and he is here the first day of the Term, we are happy to have him. If you decide otherwise, good luck and keep up the good work you have done so far."

Wow. Not what I was expecting. We enrolled him.

And my son was no longer miserable. He was thriving. Thriving, I tell you. And home. He took constructive criticism from his teachers and used it to improve, where with me he would take it too personally and reject it. He was inspired by the competition of working with other students. He was pleased to see he was very, very good at things. Without a measure previously, he always felt he was just squeaking by. He had always tried to do well for his own sake, but now, he was getting FEEDBACK glorious, glorious feedback from someone besides Mom (actually, all three now in High School love the fact that they get feedback from someone besides me).

But then there was the 9th grader, struggling under the weight of Seton home school, miserable, spending all day in her room, learning like it was a chore and had not a shred of anything redeeming about it. I thought she would do better, but she was having the same experience as our oldest, and I couldn't see her spending the next 3 years like that. Next year we would have yet another 9th grader. Would I beat ourselves over the head the same way again? Or was there another option...

The Saga Continues...

By the time we enrolled our oldest in to the Local Catholic High School (LCHS), we found the admission test for future freshman was in a month. So I signed up my then 8th grade daughter, thinking this doesn't commit us, but gets us on the path to enrollment, should we choose this. My current freshman daughter wanted to transfer the LCHS, too, but hadn't completed enough of her Seton curriculum to get any credit for it, so that was a no go. Maybe next year.

The little kids at home were plugging along, and finally we "kept on swimming" even through February, the month from Hell as far as home schooling goes. We were successful at this because I LOWERED MY EXPECTATIONS and only took on what we would actually do. And we did. Suddenly my slow reader was reading better (it is amazing what consistency can do), and I was happy to see real learning taking place in order and some peace. Except my for 9th grader. I didn't have time (and she didn't want me to anyway) to take control of her school. So she got more and more behind (she finally finished the school year two weeks after this school year began. She did do very well, grade wise, but the daily time management skills she is getting now at the LCHS are much better suited for her).

We got the test scores back from the school for my eighth grader, and they were awesome! She was recommended for all honors classes, and we were thrilled. So it was decided. The three oldest would go to the LCHS, and all would be well. Huzzah!!

And we find ourselves here, now.

So Where Are We Now? That is the question. Here are my thoughts about all this now, in both hindsight and hope for the future.

1. I am glad my oldest are in the LCHS.
2. I am sad they are in the LCHS.

I miss them. But that moment comes with every child, sooner or later, and I feel I have put that off long enough. I have seen changes in them. Wobbling, wavering a bit. Confidence challenged by peers, more care about physical appearance, doubting a few "absolutes" regarding social issues. At first terror rose to my throat when I saw this happen. The old fears rose straight to the surface and the desire to pull them out, take them home, keep them safe.

But that was a short lived temptation. Overall, questioning assumptions is not bad, and it actually leads to many very good discussions. Confronting the culture in a controlled environment and coming home every evening to get soothed back to the familiar is working out just fine. And I am seeing that they are pretty clear on who they are and what they stand for, much more than when they were at junior high age. I think it was wise to home school through junior high, as the kids miss some of the worst as far as peer pressure and peer identification. By high school, they are much more comfortable being unique. Of the three in high school, the freshman has changed the most, and that makes me sad. She is having the most difficult time staying herself and not wanting to fit it. However, she has found terrific friends, and her bending of personality has not been towards any dysfunction. All three kids are finding extra things to do, like journalism, a play, cross country, and are all taking honors and AP classes.

They seem to be well prepared for this. So far.

(The Final Installment, In Conclusion, to be posted by Monday. Stay tuned! )


Blogger Hope said...

You had the courage to do what I wished I had done. Send my kids, at least two of them, to school at one point. But I was too proud, my identity too wrapped up in being a homeschooler and I had been too vocal about what I thought was the right thing for everyone to do. I wasn't willing to eat crow. Plus one of my kids was a really late reader and I didn't want school teachers to figure that out and judge me and him.

He's in university now and doing fine.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your reflections on home schooling. I wonder if I would have had the courage to make different decisions back then had I had the internet to challenge my black and white thinking.

That all said, there were some great things about home schooling. I just wish I hadn't been so rigid about it.

Blessings to you today. (and always)

October 03, 2010  
Blogger Melanie Bettinelli said...

Well, I finally got the time to sit down and read the whole series at one sitting, I'm glad I waited rather than trying to read them all piecemeal. I've been so distracted of late it's hard to keep things straight in my head.

Thank you for the great series. I think you are very much like me in temperament and reading about your journey hits home in many ways. One thing I do worry about is my high ideals falling short. Your description of great ambition and very weak follow-through really sounds like me. I have so many great hopes for homeschooling and know that there is no way the reality can match the dream. I will have to work hard to keep myself grounded and disciplined.

I think it takes great courage to recognize what's not working and make changes. Especially when it feels like doing so is an admission of failure. I wouldn't say that you failed, however. As with so much of the parenting journey, I've learned that it tends to be very much a matter of keeping going till I realize things aren't working and then making a course correction and sailing ahead on that bearing until we need another course correction. Those are big bumps at the time; but in hindsight I realize I really was doing the best I could at each step along the way. So don't be too hard on yourself.

I look forward to the final installment.

October 03, 2010  

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