I can't wait to write a "planning for next school year" post (my favorite kind). And I would also like to write an update on how the summer reading challenge is panning out. But first I need to write a "why" post for this year. I missed last year...I was sort of floundering in changes back then. Thankfully things are much more stable this year.
Next school year (2014-15) I will have a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, and my reasons for homeschooling have only multiplied over the last three years. My fears from the early days of deciding to homeschool have proven unwarranted. We have been unbelievably and providentially blessed in this endeavor. I am moved to tears when I think of the answers and opportunities God has presented at just the right times over the last three years.
Of course, the old reasons still apply. We like the freedom, flexibility, and ability to experience life outside a campus. We love the uncommon, individualized, customized academics. And most importantly, we appreciate the opportunity to concentrate on the ever important, perpetual character training. Those reasons are basic, and this year my reasons build on that foundation, but they are harder to verbalize.
This year was hard. Not hard in a hopeless way, but hard in a refining-through-the-fire way. My kids and I worked through some issues, and we are far from finished. (Caveat: Not finished. That phrase reminds me of our decision to keep Thing1 home from kindergarten. I kept him home mainly because I was not finished with him. I am still not finished. I fear I will never feel like I am finished until he becomes an adult, at which time I must be finished whether I feel like it or not.) I made some big investments this year, and I have seen some small joyful returns. Take our leap into Classical Conversations, for example. I don't care to remember how often I sounded like a drill sergeant for the first half of the year. Sergeant Carter would seem sweet. Yet, at the end of the year, Thing1 pushed himself to Memory Master. He took 8-year-old responsibility, worked hard, and earned the reward. That was a a very, very joyful return. To choose to do something that is hard and then follow through is a big deal, no matter your age. Now take Thing2's kindergarten accomplishments. He is not reading Ralph S. Mouse like Thing1 was at the end of kindergarten, but he is reading very well, and he has listened to (and can practically recite) more audio books than Thing1 ever thought about at his age. He also has a wonderful understanding of basic mathematics and memorized a large chunk of our CC material. I pray I do not recite these accomplishments in a prideful spirit but in a humble, grateful, "thus far the Lord has led me on" spirit. I want to dwell on the goodness of the year more than the hardness of it.
I feel more confident than ever that homeschooling is the way for us in 2014-15. Classical Conversations was a success, and I can't wait to do it again. Our new house with nine acres is perfect for a homeschool family. We are attached to several people in our support group here. We have found a pretty good balance between home-based and extracurricular activities (it's still hard to keep the extracurricular light enough for my taste, though). For what it's worth, our first standardized test affirmed our efforts and showed room for improvement. I trust I am learning more about how to keep calm and keep expectations realistic (my thorn). I trust the boys are learning more about diligence, respectfulness, and positive attitudes. But most of all, I want to keep investing.