You cannot change what you are, only what you do.
― Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
How do you know when a good thing has run its course?
How do you know when it’s time to make a change?
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted here in awhile. There’s a reason for that. It’s because we haven’t done anything worth posting about. Well, not in an academic sense, anyway. We’ve played a lot of Minecraft, learned how to make animated gifs with photoshop, done a lot of drawing, read some books, and watched a few too many Disney shows on Netflix. But, we haven’t learned any math, or history, or science, or…well, you get the picture.
And, so, having disclosed that, I will also disclose that we are sending Lillia back to public school. Yes, in the middle of October.
I’m sure that some of you will think we are making a mistake (or, if you were never a big fan of us homeschooling in the first place, you are relieved). But, here’s the thing: my motherly intuition (and yes, it is a real thing) is telling me 100% that this is the right thing to do, just as it told me that homeschooling was the right thing to do last year. I wish I had a neat little paragraph that could summarize all of the reasons why we are making this decision, but it comes down to two basic ideas:
1) I will never be comfortable with “unschooling,” and for the past six weeks I have found it nearly impossible to engage Lillia in any meaningful way. She’s bored. I’m frustrated. Let me be clear — it’s not burnout. I was really excited about this school year, but I discovered a couple of weeks into it that Lillia was just not interested in what I had to offer. It was a daily struggle to get her to do even the most basic stuff. And, since I’ll never be okay with her playing Minecraft all day while her peers learn multiplication, division, and the five paragraph essay, I (that should say we) feel that this is the best decision we can make for Lillia right now.
2) We always knew she would go back to school eventually, and I guess “eventually” arrived a little sooner than we expected. She is ready, and looking forward to being with her friends again.
We had the chance to meet with the principal and both of the fourth grade teachers yesterday. We discussed Lillia’s strengths and weaknesses, how to challenge her and how to nurture her (which are one and the same thing according to a smart lady I know). I do feel sad, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to feel a sense of loss about what could have been. I love the idea of homeschooling. I love poring over curriculum materials, making booklists, and thinking up cool field trips to take. But, the reality of homeschooling is very different than what I imagined it would be. There seems to be a pervasive idea on the interwebs that if you are having a miserable time homeschooling, you are doing something wrong. You, the parent, are a failure. Well, let me just counter that by saying that homeschooling is really, really hard. There’s not a lot of reward for the amount of frustration involved. Some people seem to have it all together, but I would guess that a) it’s not as easy as they make it look, and b) they’re in the minority. It seems to me, anecdotally speaking, that there are probably particular combinations of parent-child temperaments and interests that make homeschooling easier for some and harder for others.
Do I still have major qualms with our public education system? Absolutely.
Do I still think teaching to the test is total garbage? Yep.
Am I just choosing the lesser of two evils? I believe in the concept of “good enough.” Right now, homeschooling isn’t good enough for my standards. We’ll see what the school has to offer.
I plan to keep this site up for the time being. I like that we have a record of our year, and the time we spent together (see, I do feel sentimental about the whole thing). If we do things education-related I will certainly write about them here. Your comments are always welcome.
If you are thinking about homeschooling (or not homeschooling) and need advice or moral support in either direction, I’m happy to chat. Just shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.