Monday, February 2, 2015

Discerning Homeschool

I have always been extremely interested in homeschooling.  I had conversations about homeschooling my nonexistent children years before they were even a possibility. I can't even tell you why or what prompted me to consider it, but I felt strongly about it when I was in college.

I only had two experiences with homeschooling growing up. The first was a girl in my neighborhood whose her parents regularly pulled her and her sister out of school to homeschool. They would periodically try school again and then pull them back out. I don't know what their reasons or rationale were, but I know the girl was considered strange and the neighborhood mothers didn't have nice things to say about her mother. They moved away when I was in middle school. The other experience was that when I was in high school I knew the younger, very bright brother of a friend of mine was being homeschooled through middle school. That's it. That's all I knew of it when for whatever reason in college I decided that homeschooling was a very good idea.

Even so my children go to public school. One of the bitter ironies of my life is that I have spoken extensively with certain people I know about the subject. People who thought homeschooling was crazy when we first began. These same people who are currently homeschooling their own children. And my children go to public school. Sigh.

When I think about homeschooling, it is a mix of excitement and terror. I know I have an idealized vision of homeschooling life. I also know that I fear it would all be a disaster. I think about housekeeping and the possibility of another pregnancy and whether the whole project would come crashing on my head.

I also worry if it would be the best choice for my children. I worry about Grace. She is a bit of a social butterfly. She loves going to school and seeing her friends. Would being home with her homebody mother stifle her over time? With Grace I do worry about socialization. Not because I think homeschooling is inherently isolating but because I know my own tendencies.

However, over these months of Olivia being in school, one thing is becoming abundantly clear to me: Olivia needs to be homeschooled. She doesn't like school. It is too much for her. It is too noisy and has too much going on and it upsets her. Her academics are excellent, but the entire environment makes her fairly unhappy. The hustle and bustle overwhelm. She does not misbehave at school. Oh no, quite the opposite, but her reserves are exhausted by the time she gets home. Going out to school is an extremely extroverted act and Olivia is a solid introvert.

I have been told that I need to be more positive about school with her in order to prop up her mood. I am not negative about school with her, but I also don't intend to be a false cheerleader. I know what it is like to be stuck in a place you would rather not be with little control over the situation. Pretending it isn't so doesn't help.

It is a helpless feeling knowing what your child needs, but being unable to deliver it. Right now we have no choice but to keep sending her to school. I hope one day we get to try something else.

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