It began the last day of school.
Em was suddenly unsure what she wanted to do – return to homeschooling or return to public school in the fall.
And I will admit, I was of two minds.
On one hand, I thought of the hours we would spend together. I don’t just love my child, I like her as a person. I look at Em and think, We have so few years left together before she begins her life, how can I even think of missing a single moment?
I thought of the joyful a-ha moments when she is struggling over a concept, a task, and there is this sudden dawning of understanding. The grin spreading across her face and how her eyes brighten when she finally gets it.
I love those moments. I love to see them, to be a part of making them happen. I love our conversations and her curiosity and thoughtfulness and open heart.
And on the other side of it, homeschooling takes time. The time that I could be spending writing, gardening, creating some of the local DIY art stuff I’ve been obsessing over lately. It’s been lovely to have hours of alone time, mornings spent recharging my introvert batteries and preparing for an evening of running around and preparing dinner and being a mom and wife.
So I gave her a week of summer break, watched as she flew away to San Francisco to see her grandparents, and when she returned, I said, “Now we need to discuss whether or not you will be homeschooling in the fall.”
Long ago, when I was quite young, maybe no more than seven or eight, I wanted to live with my dad, but I worried about how my mom would react. My dad suggested we make a list of pros and cons. To this day, I have suggested this very thing to my child as a way of working through the different aspects of the decision.
We cleared some space on the blackboard wall…
I wrote most of this as she dictated the wording…
Pro: Can bring your own food Con: Everyone might want some and it takes time to prepare it in the morning and plan for it in shopping
Pro: There are good teachers Con: Can be more strict than Mom (by the way, I’m not sure how I feel about that – I thought I was overly strict but apparently not!).
Pro: Friends every day. Con: Bullies every day and also disagreements with friends.
Pro: Science labs (she loves them – thank you Ms. Grammer for making them so fun) Con: Work before the labs (apparently “clean your room” is a dreaded phrase in school as well as at home)
Pro: Poetry Con: Can be difficult
Pro: Teachers reading books to us Con: Other kids talk during reading
Pro: No pro to time spent in a day in school Con: Time spent in a day at school
We didn’t even touch on her biggest issues with school…
- Having to hold it until the teacher let her go to the bathroom
- The short time they had to eat lunch
- Little or no recess time
- No wiggle room for time off – we can’t just take off anytime we like and go on a field trip, to a friend’s house, etc.
- The likelihood of homework assigned in sixth grade and certainly in the grades beyond
We discussed my work schedule, possible all-day playdates, her impending “job” of reading to our friends’ littles twice per month while I clean their house, and some of the books she would be studying this year.
I told her I wanted her to know all mathematics basics like the back of her hand – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – sharp and quick since they are the building blocks of all other mathematics.
“Give me a division question,” she said.
“What’s twelve divided by four?” I asked.
With little hesitation, she said, “Three!”
I smiled at her, “That’s great! You will be done with the skills building in no time,” I told her, “We will do timed worksheets and before you know it those answers will be ingrained in your mind.”
“So, what do you think?” I asked.
“I want to homeschool, but I also want to see my friends and my teachers.”
I love that she wants to keep connections with her teachers and her friends. Em has always been a kind-hearted child and enjoys a wide range of friends. I want to encourage that behavior – the world is always better when you have an army of friends and mentors ready to help you through it. But I also didn’t want her to misunderstand the situation.
I explained the difference between seeing her friends and spending time with them at school. “If you are envisioning coming for a visit like a homeschool rock star m’dear, set that notion aside. School is not for socializing, and the teachers will not be okay with you disrupting classes. You can offer to help out your teachers from last year, and we can make arrangements for you to see your friends outside of school, but keep in mind what school is intended for.”
She seemed to understand that and we discussed ways for her to balance homeschool and her social life.
So in the end? We are “on” for homeschool this fall. For now, however, we have a couple more weeks of lazy days before four weeks of Campfire day camp begins. Time for sleeping in, relaxing, and seeing what fun we can get up to.
Like today, for instance. My afternoon cleaning has been rescheduled to Sunday and I’ve asked her what she wants to do. I’m sure she will come up with something fun!
How I love this girl!