As I type this, I am frustrated at the keys on my right hand sticking from the Coke that got spilled on my computer by my sweet little Smiley. Of course, it was my drink, so it is truly my fault. And, as I pop off the key covers to attempt to clean my keyboard and the backs of the keys, I misplaced my period key cover, so this post may be one big run on sentence! Either that, or it will be posted with great impact and enthusiasm! Or as a question? Either way, we’ve got to figure out where that key cover is, unless of course I just use my ring finger to press down the little rubber circular thing that sits under the key. Ah, not too bad. It may just take me a tiny bit more time to post this since it takes me a little more than a split of a second to find the little spot as I type.
So, you aren’t homeschooling anymore? A frequently asked question to us lately. And the answer? Yes and no. Yes, we are still homeschooling, but not in the traditional way that most would envision. To be quite honest, we don’t take a traditional approach to homeschooling anyway, and this set up is closer to traditional than anything I’ve ever done, or will do, in regards to homeschooling. This year, we are participating in a homeschool co-op, sort of. Our church started a preschool three years ago, and the first year of the preschool, I taught the three’s class, which was attended by my sweet Mary Lou. I don’t remember the logic in deciding to teach with six kids of my own. I think I remember hearing that they needed a teacher, and I do love to teach, and it was only two days a week. I had the grandmothers help us take care of Picasso while I was teaching (since she was too old for the preschool), and everyone else was enrolled in either the preschool or the Mother’s Morning Out program. It was fun, and the kids I taught were just precious. But it was hard. Earnhart, Smiley, and Dozer were little, and getting in and out of the building successfully required me bringing along the double stroller on a daily basis, plus whatever equipment or supplies I needed to teach my curious kids each day. I was a sight, I’m sure. We decided I wouldn’t return the next year, and I would just teach at home exclusively, especially since I would have two kids of age for homeschooling.
That year and the following one are a blur. Maybe it was so many people in such a little house, maybe it was because of the financial crisis we found ourselves in, maybe it was the lack of contentment we were buried under. Take your pick. It was tough. So, Superman and I started to brainstorm. How could we increase our incoming funds to keep up with our outgoing? How could we make a substantial dent in our mountain of debt (another story for another post, but it boils down to sheer stupidity)? Where could I work and still take care of our six kids during the day? How could he pick up a second job when his first one didn’t allow it? And then I got wind of the fact that the preschool was starting a homeschool co-op class, and my director wanted me to come back and teach it. Woo-hoo! An answer to prayers!!! I met with her and explained that I would need to be able to bring Picasso with me, and it was a done deal. Just a few weeks later, we learned that my grandmother had agreed to let us rent her house (five minutes from church/school, as opposed to the 25 minutes we currently had to drive). This gave us the financial confidence I needed to rent this house and run the risk of no tenant in our other house and having to pay two house payments. What a sweet deal! Just a few weeks after that, while preparing our “new” house for our move, we learned we were pregnant with Tipper. It was a whirlwind.
We moved in Memorial Day weekend, and just three short weeks later, my grandmother suddenly passed away. I found out that my due date was somewhere in December, which is great timing when you are a teacher. Perfect timing would have been along with all the other late spring and early summer births of all the other children. My director was understanding, as she is very business minded and doesn’t take anything too personally. School year, let’s begin.
The girls now had an “official” first day of school. They were making friends and learning new things. But with new friends, we noticed a weakened dependence on each other. We also noticed outright ill behavior with one another. I can tell you, you will not be as quick to hurt the feelings of your primary playmates if you think you will be lonely without them. However, if you have other friends to entertain you, then you suddenly don’t need want your sisters around anymore. And man, has Earnhart picked up some interesting phrases and attitudes at school with other rambunctious three year olds! Needless to say, it has been a strain on our family structure and relatability to be a part of this situation. On top of this, my class isn’t a true co-op. It isn’t a bunch of parents with a heart for homeschooling looking for enrichment for their kids. It’s a group of parents waiting on a charter to pass in this area so they have better options in public education. So, they needed a way to keep their kids at our preschool for their kindergarten and first grade years while they wait on the charter to pass. Let’s have a class for them four days a week, covering all subject matter plus art, music, and spanish, and call it a homeschool co-op. I want to teach with a more relaxed approach, as I do homeschooling, and I have parents asking for more reading assignments and homework. It just isn’t exactly what I had in mind. Add to that packing seven lunches four days a week (7 x 4 = 28), picking out clothes and socks for everyone each day (7 outfits + 14 socks x 4 = a whole lot of clothes!), getting all of us out of bed, dressed, teeth and hair brushed, and into car seats by 8:15, and it just doesn’t work. Now, I know what some people would say (none of you, of course). (1)”Don’t have that many kids if you don’t want to do that work!” OR (2)”Would they stay in pajamas all day if you were home? Would you not dress them every day?” Well, to that I say (1) I never intended to send them to school. We’ve had a heart for homeschooling since we first discussed having children, and especially so since we’ve had seven of them! and (2) Sometimes. Sometimes they would stay in pajamas, for a little bit. Yes, they would get dressed, but more likely in a costume of some sort. Dressing is overrated! It’s just a lot. So we’re doing the best we can to get through this year, and then next year we will be home again, hopefully for good. Not just because doing it the other way was so hard, but because we have a heart for homeschooling. I could list all the reasons why, but for the sake of your eyes, I’ll save that for another post. Reading much more than this will wear you out.
So now you see why we are, but are not, homeschooling right now. The school is great, my coworkers are wonderful, and our kids have had fun, but it just isn’t our thing. Home is great, my coworker is my best friend and my love, and our kids have fun. It will be nice to get back to “normal” next year.
By the way, we are ALWAYS homeschooling around here. Every chance we get, we jump on learning opportunities, whether they involve setting the table, doing yard work, making dinner, etc. Homeschooling is not always creating school at home, but I’ll share more on that in that other post.