Kindergarten was a rather painless year for Junebug. She enjoyed penmanship, moved ahead speedily in math, and had lots of fun doing various arts and crafts. She does not like her phonics lessons. I try to keep phonics time short, but will have to insist on lengthening it when first grade starts up. She's sounding out four-letter words, so I'm not worried about her at all. I'll need to do some serious reading aloud over the summer with her.
This is a get 'er done kind of kid. Super easy student to teach. Not the biggest fan of reading, but I don't think we've every really found a book series that "hooks" her into reading. Perhaps I can add that to my to-do list.
She became a whole lot more independent in her working this year, which was great. She loves to read, and if you can't find her around the house, odds are she's holed up in my bed, reading something. She enjoys learning Latin, just not the actual writing down of Latin...or English, for that matter.
I am not in love with homeschooling anymore. I think it's mostly a problem of wanting to do other things more than I want to do school at home. When you're a stay-at-home mother to lots of very little people, "homeschool" preschool is really just a way to fill the day with your kids. When you do those first few years at home, it's exciting because you're teaching someone to read, to add, to write. But now, it's just more of the same every day, with housework piling up all the time, kids getting on each other's nerves all day long, and making the decision to come in short on other things in order to make time for yourself. When I look at our daily lives, I do not look forward to fourteen years of the same. I don't even want another year of the same.
With this re-location to Australia, I'm going to give myself permission to do a little experiment with our homeschooling: I'm going to relax a little bit. For the six months that we're gone, I'm not going to freak out about setting alarm clocks, or getting work done before lunch. I am going to enjoy this unexpected gift of an extended holiday in a foreign land, and enjoy the time with my kids while we're there. We will have math lessons each day, because that's just something I can't let slide, but devote more time to doing rather than sitting and thinking. I don't want to look back on this trip and say, "Oh, we were going to do that, but our lessons ran long that day." Yeah, no thanks.
As my life functions now, I'm too tired for any of that, or too worn out by being around people all day to want to spend more time with people in the evening. I'm an introvert and I need my re-charging time. So if, at the end of this Australian adventure, I find that I didn't like the relaxed version of homeschooling and/or I'm not interested in returning to our regular way of homeschooling, I'm going to let this go. I don't want to be tired of my children, even if it means they read at a higher grade level than their peers, or can finish Calculus before their senior year of high school. I want loving relationships with my kids, with time for fun things. I don't work outside of the home on purpose, so that I have more time to focus on my family. Homeschooling feels like it's tearing at that decision. I don't want to be the Head Mistress so much as I want to be the Mama.
There are loving teachers out there, and I'm friends with some of them and admire them so much, and they love what they do. They teach because they want to teach, they teach because they believe they are contributing to society, and they teach because they love "their" kids. I was blessed to spend a lot of time recently with a public school teacher friend, and no one could ever doubt how much passion she has for her job. I know she's not an anomaly.
I don't know if I should share these thoughts, but they are how I feel. Sometimes I wonder if other homeschool mothers feel the same way, but are too "ashamed" to admit it. Sit at a homeschool mother's gathering for a few minutes and you'll hear the inevitable "I can't believe some mothers actually GET TIRED of their children!" line and other like-minded speeches. And those comments make me feel like a failure. Having come from a background where I've witnessed gross neglect and abuse of children in many homes, I know the importance of recognizing limits and desires. I've seen parents snap from stress they brought upon themselves in order to appease their peers, and I'm having none of it. If other homeschool parents want to call me a quitter, should I choose to send my children to school, that's not my problem, it's their problem with how they're viewing the world.
Do I want the best education possible for my children? Of course. But not at any expense whatsoever from our parent-child relationship. I'd rather my children receive a sub-standard education and be a part of each other's lives after they become adults, rather than perfect SAT scores and perfectly-drilled Latin conjugations and an estranged relationship. Ideally, I could have both of those good things, but if I have to choose, I'm going with our relationship.
I used to be angry about the "lacking" of my public school education, all the things I didn't learn before I graduated, all the time "wasted" in tutoring my classmates because I finished my work quickly and had nothing else to do. I should have been bumped up a grade or two, no doubt about it, but that's a decision of a different sort that I can make for my own children if they enroll in school.
As for the "lacking" of my education--my education isn't over. All those things I wish I had learned in school? I can learn them now if they're that important to me. My education wasn't an item given to me only for a limited time, it's an evolving awareness that builds upon my experiences and my years of life. No one's education is complete at the end of college. It's GOOD if you feel like you're not done when they plop that degree into your hand--that means you're on the right path to self-enlightenment. It's only sad if someone graduates and then goes home and declares that they never have to read a book ever again. I consider that a failure in education. If my children aren't excited about ideas and adventures, then their education was incomplete.
I do not regret my choice to homeschool my children these past four ("official," six if you count preschool) years. However, it is wearing on me and I feel uninspired. Something needs to change. Hopefully we can figure out whatever that thing is and continue with homeschooling, because I like the idea of homeschooling; but if I can't find the answer in homeschooling, it's OK. What's important to me is that my children remember that they were loved and adored during their childhood, not where their bottoms were while receiving their educations. Whatever I have to do to be the most successful at that endeavor, that's what I'm going to choose.