This was the day that all three of my children finally made it to public school. This morning, with their hair combed just so, their little uniform outfits laid out for them was full of potential. I only cried a little as I watched my little boys start parade down the halls that their sister had been in for a couple of years. Even though the bittersweet feelings were a little bit about fact that my babies were growing up, a part of me was also feeling a tug at my heart because I didn't want them there in the first place.
The elementary school was only a short walk from our house, it was a highly favored school, and it had great teachers, yet I still felt like it was wrong for them.
When my oldest was in pre-k, I began to think about homeschooling. At the time, I was finishing my college education and working full time in a great job, but the allure of educating my children from home was almost too much for me to sit on my hands. Knowing that financially, we were still on rocky grounds with my position being a temporary one with only a chance of going full time, and my husband having just started off in a new to him management position. We were recovering from combining our family (and family debt), as well as a bankruptcy in my husband's past, homeschooling should not have even been on my radar, but it was.
The first thing I did was research the standards; I wanted to know everything about what was required per grade. Then I began to look at schedules- I was dying to know how people managed a multi-child household while homeschooling. I printed out pages of requirements, researched the state homeschooling laws, and weighed the options of how I might be able to do this. But then, still hanging over my head was the realization that we just couldn't afford it right then.
I put the idea on the back burner, not because I wanted to, but because I felt like it was impossible. I moved jobs, and so did my husband. and things began to fall into place financially. Life began taking on a more normal shape, but then there were the problems at school. Day after day, I was getting reports from the children saying that they were being bullied on the bus, stories about students in their classes who were getting caught stealing their parents' credit cards to sell to other students- in kindergarten! I was overwhelmed. This was not the education that I wanted for my children, and education in violence and theft, an education that showed that if your mommy or daddy was rich, you wouldn't get into trouble, only the kids who were lower in income would be "noticed" for acting out. And then there was the realization that came slowly, that I had two gifted students, both of which had a form of "special needs", but the school could not cater to their needs in a way that met my expectations.
So the research commenced, this time with the idea of a higher grade level. I felt guilty while on my breaks at work, looking up information on homeschool, because I truly loved my job (and my boss). I felt like I was betraying my career by trying to find a way to take care of my children, but then I realized that I was being selfish! I loved my job, and I would have been very happy there forever, but I knew that my children would not have what they needed, and their success far outweighs my own selfish desire for my personal success. I revealed to my husband, then, that I felt that this was the right thing to do, and because all of the problems we had run into in the school, he agreed to consider it. I was also looking into Christian Private Schools, but with three children, the cost was going to be more than the loss of my income alltogether.
The breakthrough came with a trip out West, my husband was offered a job for the exact amount of money that we had been praying for in order for me to leave my job. All of that research payed off, because I was thrown into homeschooling my three children with only 3 months notice! When I look back, I don't regret their public education, I really only wish that it could have come with a more reasonable social level. The teachers and the knowledge they were getting was acceptable, but it wasn't all that it could have been. Once I began educating my boys, I was able to custom manage their learning struggles, helping them to focus, get more hands on learning, and allow breaks when it seemed they were getting distraught. I was able to slow down for my daughter, allowing her to really grasp the concepts that the schools were glossing over so quickly. I have total control over the issues that, if they had been in school, would have been considered distractions, labeling them as "problem students".
Being that I had no idea what I was truly in for, I am grateful that the children got their earliest education at the hands of the teachers in the public school system. I am looking forward to teaching my youngest as she reaches the age for school, teaching her to read, write, and the simple stepping stones that come in the early grades- but only because I have gained such amazing courage and faith in my ability through the last two years of working with my children. It's funny how I went from anticipating and regretting those first days of school, to anticipating it only, because every new school year I know what they are going to learn, I know all of the fun secret projects I have planned, and I know that the outcome of the school year will be awesome!