Monday, August 27, 2018

Adventures in Homeschooling

We are officially one week into our homeschooling journey and it's been, well, interesting.

I have to admit, I've had some "what the heck was I thinking" moments - like that moment I realized my kids just put up with the math and grammar to get to the science and history. Which they clearly got from Dusk - I lived for English and Math. History? Not so much. And now I have to teach it? Ugh. Just ask my mom how much I "loved" social studies in elementary school.

And we've definitely had moments of sadness as we're seeing pictures of their friends starting at new schools. For Sierra in particular, it's hard as many of the kiddos in her classes landed at the same school. She really misses them. And I miss their moms, my mom tribe.

And Bodie and I have definitely butted heads. That kid is so much like me. SO MUCH. And there's definitely a learning curve to mom being your teacher.

But already, the blessings of homeschooling are becoming so evident to me. I keep having these aha moments where I am given 100% certainty that we made the right choice.

Like when the kiddos came home from their first day of enrichment academy. They LOVE it. As in, they don't want to leave at the end of the day and are over the moon at what they're learning. They are both developing a newfound love of math already, and are discovering there are multiple ways to learn things. Their eyes are definitely opened up and they're having a ball!

Moments like this morning, when we pulled out of our driveway to head to the enrichment academy. I looked to the left, at the insanely long line of cars waiting to turn left onto the main street by our house. The line we sat in 5 days a week for the last 6 years...and then I turned right. The traffic was light. Our drive was easy. We laughed. The pressure of the last 6 years is just...gone. It made me realize how much unnecessary stress we've added to our lives.  And it made me so hopeful that this year will be exactly what we, as a family, need.

And maybe my biggest aha moment came on Thursday. Bodie had appointments in the pulmonary clinic at CHLA - all went well, and he thought being "trapped" in the Pulmonary Function Test box was hilarious.
On our way up to the hospital, I told the kids if they finished the work they brought with them (math and science), we could go out to lunch on the way home. On the weird route Waze sent us on, we passed a random park that looked super cool. So we decided we would stop there, too. 

The kids finished their schoolwork while we were waiting for the doctor (most productive pulmonary appointment ever!). 
So we stopped by El Pollo Loco to grab some lunch to take to the park. 
(watching them grill the chicken totally counts as Home Ec, amiright???)

And then we stopped by that random park.
And we ended up staying for almost 2 hours. 
We wandered around, looking at all the different kinds of plants. We talked about the different kind of adaptations we saw.
And the kids climbed trees. 
And then climbed some more.
Guys, my kids never climb trees. We just don't have the time. 
But last week, they climbed trees for 2 hours. 
Homeschooling is helping my kids get some of their childhoods back. 
Childhoods that were taken due to illness, heart attacks, hospital stays, burglaries, housefires, and so many other things we couldn't prevent. 

But this, a moment to recapture parts of their childhood. 
This much we can do.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Curious Case of the Accidental, Intentional Homeschoolers

(Look ma, no uniforms!)

The kids have been at the same school since kindergarten. We loved it. We built lifelong friendships. We loved the incredible teachers who poured their heart and souls into giving our kids a strong Biblical foundation for life. We loved the home it gave our kids, the calm in the midst of the myriad of the storms life has thrown at us in the last 8 years. We had anticipated both of the kids going there through 8th grade.

But sometimes God has other plans. 

Our school closed abruptly a few weeks ago. We were devastated. So many, many, many tears were shed. I had endless conversations with the other families, learning where their children would be going this year. And we looked halfheartedly at a few schools. 

But nothing felt like the right fit. 

After a lot of prayer and conversation, it became abundantly clear to Dusk and I that God was calling our family in a different direction, to homeschool. (Yes, you read that right!)

There is apparently a term for people like us - "accidental homeschoolers." People who end up homeschooling by virtue of circumstance, rather than choice. Except, in our case, it wasn't so accidental. It's always been at the back of my mind, and we considered it when we enrolled Sierra in kindergarten, but for a number of reasons, decided to go with traditional schooling at that time. I have always felt that God was calling us to homeschool, but just not yet. I always felt there would be a time where it would be right - but I always envisioned I'd have more than 2 weeks notice when that happened! But God has a great sense of humor.

So yes, we're homeschooling for this coming year - and maybe beyond. Wherever God calls us. We're actually doing a hybrid approach to homeschooling, where they'll be going to a homeschool enrichment academy 2 days a week (1 started today) and then home with me the rest of the time. Since I work part-time, it's the best of both worlds for us - everyone gets a break to regroup, and we get extra help and support in the subject areas we'll need. And I get to teach the rest!

So, let's just get your questions out of the way (because I know you have 'em):

But how will they socialize? 
School isn't the only place kids get to socialize! We have several friends homeschooling as well and we'll be doing fieldtrips and meetups with them regularly. And the kids will be seeing other kids at the enrichment academy. And we'll definitely be trying our hand at organized sports this year, since we'll have more time to!

You mean, you're going to be with them, like 24/7? 
Well, yes and no. I mean, they're my kids and I like being with them. Isn't that sort of the point of getting married and becoming a parent, because you plan to make and raise human beings you enjoy being around? I've never been one of those parents counting down the days until school starts. I've always been sad when school starts and miss the kids terribly. That said, because we're doing a hybrid option, they'll be in "school" 2 days as week. 

Are you seriously going to teach them? Are you capable of it?
Well, thanks for the vote of confidence. But I'm pretty sure I can handle it. I mean, I have my BS, my JD and my CPA. I'm pretty sure I can handle teaching an 8 year old and an 11 year old. Could I teach an entire classroom? No, of course not - I didn't go to school for that, I haven't studied the best approaches to classroom management, etc. But, I know my kids best and I know how they learn best. 

Aren't homeschoolers weird loners with no social skills?
Right, because everyone knows there's no weird, loner kids lacking social skills in public or private schools. Enough said on that  point.

Aren't there good schools you can choose from? 
Of course. And we loved our school experience. Both of our kids thrived. But our school was unique - it gave our incredibly creative kids the chance to use their creativity and to learn at their own pace. For us, for now, the best option by far is this hybrid homeschool option. I cannot explain the sense of peace I have felt since we made this decision. 

But why????? 
We feel God has called us to this for a number of reasons. There are so many things we want to focus on this year. Besides discipling the kids, perhaps the biggest is just to SLOW DOWN. 

The last few years have been such a mad rush of "hurry, hurry, hurry" to go do something and then "hurry, hurry, hurry" some more. Living in a city is hard. It's so easy to get on the hamster wheel and not even realize the years are flying by. The time we do get to spend as a family has been limited and weaved with an undercurrent of stress and anxiety. 

God has been nudging me for the last year to make changes. He has been reminding me that our stress levels are too high, that our priorities are misplaced, that we only get one shot at this raising kids thing and we need to make sure we're doing it right. So this is our chance to heed His call, to step off the wheel, to slow down, to focus on us as a family. This is really giving us back a gift of time. Time to be with ourselves and each other. 

We're excited and we're ready. 
(Dusk doesn't technically start school until next Monday, but I couldn't resist the urge to throw him in with the kids today!)

Everyone's got mad goals...
Did I mention we're excited?

We covet your prayers in this new journey we're embarking on.
I know there will be bad days. 
But I also know there will be really amazing days.
Most importantly, I know we're heeding God's call.
And there's nothing like the peace in that.