Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things I'll Miss

 After months of studying, considering, and praying, Jared and I have decided to send Henry and Ian to a new charter school in our area next year. I don't know if this means the beginning of a new era for us or if it will just be what school looks like for one school year, but it means saying good-bye to some of the things that I cherish about home schooling the entire family together. I know that we want to do the right thing for them, and to help them gain the experiences that they will need in life, so we will keep an open mind through this school year and prayerfully consider what comes next, but deep down in my heart I am hopeful that the answer comes to return to homeschooling. Here are some of the things I will miss:
  • Moving at our own pace in the mornings. Even though we stick to a routine, it only roughly matches the clock. I do not look forward to having everyone ready to go in the morning and out the door before 8:00 am, especially since we need to have family devotional, breakfast, chores, and piano practice done by then! I will need to pray for a zen attitude, as rushing children who do not want to be rushed is a quick way to push my stress levels into the next stratosphere!
  • Studying world history together. This is one of our absolute favorite things to learn about together, and is a part of daily conversations in our home. Their new school is classics based and will include the study of world history, but I love doing it together.
  • Having so much time as a family. We learn together, work together, go to the park and the library and the store together, watch TV together, read books together . . . you get the picture. This family will be going separate directions each day. This makes me really sad and is probably the biggest reason that I hope we go back to home schooling after a year or two in school. I will be very protective of our afternoons and evenings when they are going to school each day. Family time is vital.
  • Having them do so much work around our home! This year they have really made a big difference in the day to day housework, and I know that if they are gone for a big chunk of the day, the morning chores will be rushed and rarely teaching moments. Hopefully, since this school is promising minimal homework, I'll be able to get plenty of work out of them in the afternoons!;)
  • Being able to take a day once in a while to just cozy up by the fire and read, or spend the whole day doing science experiments, or to give in to spring fever and go on a nature walk and look at birds instead of sitting around the table looking at math facts.
  • No homework! Do I need to say more? Beyond just not wanting to deal with homework and other teachers' deadlines, I love that our afternoons are free to participate in other activities, run and play with the neighborhood kids, or curl up with a book. 

I believe that lots of good will come from this experience. My girls will get more of my attention. I will be able to help Kimball focus on some fabulous things he has been wanting to do more of. Henry will have more opportunities to gain some independence and make some friends. Ian will get to be in an environment where he is not the middle child, where he can see his own strengths instead of always comparing himself to his older (and thus, more advanced) brothers. 

I hope that fellow home schoolers  will not feel defensive or judgmental about our decision. It has not been done lightly, nor without a certain amount of anguish. I know that it is possible to teach your children everything they need without ever sending them to school, but we really feel that this is the right thing, right now, for these two boys. We are not "giving up" on homeschooling. What will come the following year? Only time and inspiration will tell. But I promise that I will shed real tears on August 22nd when they start school and the rest of us return home without them for the day. And perhaps for a few days after that. I have really treasured these years with my children all around me, learning together.

(Photos all courtesy of Bronwen, who swiped my camera at the park.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Checklists

The kids and I are all making summer checklists today-- things that we want to be sure we do this summer, and I thought I'd share them. I tried to not interfere too much in theirs, although I have tried to help Kimball set some more reasonable goals and plans. (He's obviously the oldest child over-achieving type. I don't know where he gets it!)

Michal's Summer Checklist
  • Go beach camping-- check! (I'd been really wanting to do that this summer, and at the last minute, we took a four-day weekend and did it!)
  • Do something fun with the kids every day.
  • Learn/Teach something with the kids every day.
  • Make fresh squeezed lemonade, refrigerator pickles, and a homemade ice cream that Henry can eat. (Not all for the same occasion;)
  • Run in a 10K race.
  • Tackle one organizational nightmare project a week. (homeschool closet, computer armoire, cookbook cupboard, kitchen freezer, Kimball's desk area, . . . )
  • Read A Thomas Jefferson Education plus at least 5 books for fun. 
  • Learn how to use my dehydrator to make fruit leather or dried tomatoes.
  • Have at least one family over for dinner each month (not counting people related to us).
  • Have a backyard movie party. At least once, but maybe more often.
  • Teach Bronwen to read. 
  • Call my sisters-in-law.
  • Take my kids to Folsom Lake at least once, but perhaps once a week!
  • Let the kids have the lemonade stand they are always begging for.
Kimball's Summer Checklist
  • Play 4-way Ninjago.
  • Read 4 serial books in one day.
  • Eat a whole or half box of Ritz Crackers. (Random!)
  • Write and publish a book. (No problem! Easy, peasy, right Tamara?)
  • Make meals for a week. (I WISH this were a reasonable item!)
  • Hold a diving contest.
  • Pickle something weird.
  • Clock myself for swimming from one end of the pool to the other without coming up for air in the middle.
  • Watch Kung Fu Panda 2.

Henry's Summer Checklist
  • Go swimming at least 12 times.
  • Read at least 3 *** "me-approved" books. (Upon inquiry, I discovered that this means books he rates at at least 3 stars after reading.)
  • Invent a game.
  • Win at least 5 games of "Josh-ball".
  • Go to an amusement park.
  • Learn to ride my bike without hands for at least 10 seconds.
  • Make a successful club that lasts at least a week.
  • Write a comic book that is at least 10 pages long.
  • Have a lemonade stand with Kimball.

Ian's Summer Checklist
  • Go to Raging Waters.
  • Skip one meal and eat two lunches on Saturday. (???)
  • See the new Cars 2 movie in the theater.
  • Read 12 chapter books in one day. (His are short.)
  • Learn to do a back flip.

Bronwen's Summer Checklist
  • Go visit Grammy and Papa.
  • Have a lemonade stand.
  • Go on a date with Dad to a restaurant to eat burgers for dinner.
  • Go to swimming lessons.
  • Go see a movie in the theater.
  • Play hide and seek.
  • Learn to do a back flip.
  • Go to the zoo.
What's on your summer checklist?