One Year at a Time

Recently a woman with whom I went to high school was worrying over where to send her one and only child  to kindergarten.  As her Facebook friends debated the merits of Montessori over traditional school, I had a rare perceptive moment when I realized what was at the heart of the discussion.

In so many words, I told her not to feel like her child’s entire academic success depends on the decision she makes today.  I told her that what works for her child and her family this year might not work next year or ten years from now, but that was okay.  Kids grow and change.  Families grow and change.  And shit happens.

I can attribute this understanding of life to my years of homeschooling.  It is not uncommon for homeschoolers to say that they are making the decision to homeschool “one year at a time”, even if they don’t really mean it.  At the heart of homeschooling is the willingness to reassess yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily what is and isn’t working for each child and make adjustments accordingly.  For most homeschooling parents this may mean adjusting curriculum and daily schedules to balance the needs of each individual child with the needs of the family.  For others, this may mean making the decision at some point to outsource part or all of their child’s education.

A year ago I probably would have told you that there was no situation of which I could conceive that would seriously make me consider sending one of my kids to a regular school, public or private.  However, yesterday I officially enrolled my oldest daughter at the local parish elementary school.

We started talking about sending to Bailey to school around mid-summer.  I just started to feel that with her temperament she might benefit from more structure than I was able to give her at home.  Plus, she is an extreme extrovert, and I worried that her needs were no longer being met by continuing to homeschool her.

I was approaching the end of my pregnancy, though.  I didn’t have the time or energy to really look into the local schools, and I knew that having a kid in school would completely turn our way of life upside down.  It’s something we started to discuss for the next school year when she would start 5th grade.  I thought that would give us plenty of time to assess the options in our area.

Then Cassidy was born on August 1st.  We started our homeschooling semester on the 20th with Bailey in 4th grade and Piper in 1st grade. Plus I still had Katie (4) and Sabrina (2) with whom to contend.  As the weeks passed, I started feeling more and more over-whelmed.  I was also having some post-partum health issues, and my doctors started talking about me having at least one minor surgery to deal with that.  But the last time I went in for what was supposed to be that same minor surgery all hell broke loose, and it took me months to recover.

Last Wednesday my husband could see how I seemed to be drowning and said we should consider getting Bailey into school immediately even though the year had already started.  That same day during one of my rare nap times I had already been thinking the exact same thing.  We both knew that this was not an ideal situation for her, starting at a new school with no previous experience of school and two months behind everyone.  But we felt it was something we needed to do.  Bailey surprised us by being really ecstatic about the idea.

On Thursday I called and left a message for the principal (a Nashville Dominican) of our local parish school.  She called me back on Friday and was able to meet with us on Sunday afternoon.  On Tuesday Bailey spent the day shadowing at the school; they paired her up with a classmate that she knew somewhat from teeball and gymanistics.  And yesterday I turned in the paperwork and a registration deposit while Bailey shadowed for a second day.

Bailey really enjoyed her shadow days, but at the same time they were very over-whelming.  There are so many procedures to how school works.  She wasn’t used to having to ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water.  If she did her schoolwork at home without dawdling she could be finished with all of it within two hours; now her school days are six and a half hours long.

Bailey is not the only one who has been over-whelmed with everything.  There have been so many issues to think of from transportation to uniforms to lunch menus.  Instead of sleeping in until nine, Bailey and I have to be up at seven to get her to school at eight.  It’s going to be an adjustment for everyone in the family, having to work with someone’s else schedule for our lives.

We are very optimistic that this is the best decision for our family at this time, though.  Not being responsible for walking Bailey through two hours of schoolwork each day will take a lot of pressure off of me and give me a chance to rebuild my strength and stamina.  Being at school will give Bailey opportunities for new experiences, and it will give the whole family the opportunity to make more ties within our parish community.

At the end of the year, though, we will have to assess how well things went for Bailey and the entire family and determine whether to keep her in school or bring her back home.  Just as we always have done, we will take it one year at a time…

Explore posts in the same categories: Family Life, Homeschooling/Education, Parenting

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