As most know, this year was a big change for our family as we enrolled all of our children in public school. There are pros and cons to all we do, and with this decision that was no exception. I saw some amazing things happen this year with most, if not all, of my children. At the end of such an experience, it's nice to reflect on all we learned:
My oldest son desired to push himself. Halfway through the year he came to me and declared how bored he was. So, my hubby and I went to the school principal and asked for him to be placed in the advanced classes. Easier said than done, he was finally placed where more challenge was given. A couple of years ago this son would have been happy to just coast through, so it was good to see his self-motivation increase. Next year: HIGH SCHOOL!!
1/2 day was perfect for B. She has accomplished so much this year. The school classes gave her structure, but not an overwhelming amount to lead to failure and frustration. The at-home instruction, without other distractions, allowed her to flourish and gain momentum in subjects she'd struggled with in the past. This last month she read three books and wrote an amazing 5-paragraph essay without any assistance from me (though I did edit a little for final draft; and three books may not seem like a lot but reading has been a real challenge for her so it was exciting to see her devour book after book!). Next year: full-time middle school.
A. would be my most improved student this year! The structure of school gave my anxiety-ridden child the structure she needed to feel confident and intelligent. Her test scores jumped from below average to well beyond that. She gained a strong group of friends to carry her through the middle school years (I hope), developed a love for reading, and fine tuned her gift in writing. Next year: Middle school!
I think there were some good things that JL learned from his school experience. He had the best teacher I've seen at this school (any teacher who loves "Teach Like Your Heart is on Fire" would be great!) and she brought the breadth of learning into JL's life. He was exposed to many different topics and had a good social experience. He was my most bored child in school. The first half of the year he had fun showing his knowledge by speeding through all of his homework and the extra credit. After Christmas, however, this was no longer fun and just became busy work. Still, it wasn't all bad. Next year: He's staying home!
Kindergarten is just FUN! E. had so much fun this year. He told me just today, "It's funny, Mom. I didn't like reading and then just the other day I was like, 'Hey, I like reading,' and now I do." This kid is a real thinker! Any book we read he's always trying to figure out what might be happening next. It's just been a fun year for him. Next year: Staying home!
So, as you read, my little boys will be staying home next year!! Sure, there are political issues I have not been very happy with, but those are not the main reason for this decision. The main reason is I just don't feel I had enough time with them. I'd like to have a couple of years just with them...to get to know them, build a stronger foundation for them, and just have fun with them. I will admit JL's boredom and E's conforming have led a little to this decision as well, but only a little. :-)
Overall, this year has been a great learning experience for all of us. I learned so much about MYSELF. I like not being stressed. I like living in the moment and hope to carry this over into a homeschooling year. I really, really love my kids and miss having them gone so much. But at the same time, I like just being MOM and not"teacher-mom" all the time. I miss being completely involved in what they are learning. "Out of sight, out of mind" is how I run my life, and so it's been hard to keep up with what the kids are learning. I hope to do this better next year with my older kids.
Lastly, I have learned how it feels to follow the Lord's plan for my family, even if it's not my greatest wish or desire. He knew the kids and I needed this year for many reasons (physical health included). There is so much goodness that comes in heeding His counsel. In Alma 26:27 we read that He doesn't take away our pain (this year was not all happy and easy), but He does give us the strength and peace to bear the afflictions with joy. I have truly seen the Lord's hand in all of our lives this past nine months and am so grateful for all we learned.