Yep, Still Homeschooling

So, we're now 4th grade and 6th grade, and in our 4th year of homeschooling. We've had some discussions recently about going back to public school, but my guess is it won't be until high school. I think it's mostly a curiosity for the younger one (she was pulled out in 1st grade), and an interest in peers and talking to boys for the older one
(you did not hear that from me).
But when we sit down to really discuss what that would mean (ie you'd have to wear something besides pajamas all day, you'd have homework everyday, and you'd have to get up before noon - yes, I have lazy children, but they are indeed children) they quickly abandon the idea.
So, they're stuck with me for a few more years.
We recently fixed up our homeschool 'room' - which is mostly just a sectioned off part of the upstairs gameroom - the rest of the gameroom is 'Barbie World' - which is just that - a WORLD of Barbies (more on that later).
It functions much better this way (I realize you have no idea what it looked like the other way, but trust me, this is a huge improvement). I have my desk, and they have their individual workstations. It's bright and cheerful with lots of books and art supplies. I'm not sure what more a itty bitty school room needs. We're moving again soon anyway, hopefully for good this time, but until we are settled in something other than a rental it's hard to claim a space entirely. So, we make do.

One thing I've noticed recently with our schooling at home, is how much more relaxed I am now after 4 years, than I was the first few. The first year in particular was quite stressful and difficult. We gave ourselves plenty of time to adjust, but I don't think I allowed myself time to just breathe.
The first few years of homeschooling you feel like you have so much to prove. Not just to yourself, your spouse, or even your kids, but to the world outside. The unsupportive extended family, the school system you left behind, the mom friends you made with kids still in public school, the ladies in the grocery store asking why your kids aren't in school today...there's this pressure to account for your ruinous choice at every corner.
At least in your mind there is. I can't say for sure it's really there. Could be just another of the perceived burdens us moms like to stack on our shoulders.
Yeah, pile it on! Let's do this!
But, in year four, I'm over it. I've interviewed so many homeschooling moms at this point, and read so many books, articles, blogs, etc, that the only conclusion I can come to is this: they're gonna be OK. They will probably even THRIVE. And even if they don't, it's still OK. Because the alternative is unacceptable at this point in our journey.
Yes, I still worry. I worry that we should be doing more. I worry we should be testing. I worry they don't have enough friends. I worry they're not going to get into college. I worry they are not reaching their full potential (if they were in public school would they be in band, or cheerleading, or in some sort of leadership group?) Are they missing out? Can I really farm all that out and still give them something similar at home?
I recently hired a young girl to work in my vintage shop. She's 17 and homeschooled (finishing up her senior year). She's bright, clever, crafty, responsible, mature. She loves to travel and learn from other cultures. She's independent. She's a Young Life leader. She stops at the corner grocery on her way to work some days to buy food to pass out to homeless people she sees on the street. She's compassion and generous. She wants to fly airplanes. She's normal, and yet, not typical. After a few months of working in my shop, she's practically running the place. Did I mention, she's only 17?
I'm so thankful for her. Her parents must be so proud. I have grilled her to no end about her homeschool experience. I even had her talk to my daughters. You see, this young girl wanted to go to public school and even begged her parents to put her back in school. They finally gave in when she was 9th grade and she went to high school one year. After a few months, she says she was over it and quickly realized she wasn't missing out. She had plenty of friends, missed being in her pajamas all day, could do sports or other activities on the side, had very little in common with the public school kids, hated the testing, and well, was much happier learning at home.
I've met so many other young adults who were homeschooled recently. As well as moms who homeschooled 2, 3, 4, and in some cases 5 kiddos at the same time. I love talking to them and hearing their stories. They're always encouraging and supportive and so willing to share information or groups or co-ops. It is truly a wonderful community, and I'm so thankful for them.
So, at this point, despite my worrying, we're doing good with our homeschooling. The hardest part is staying motivated. I think next year we may try a different approach to curriculum and workbooks. I haven't quite decided what that is yet. Something in between un-schooling and self-directed learning. But that's one of the glorious things about this whole experience: we can make it up as we go. There really is no right or wrong way.
It's your journey with your kids. Claim it and make it your own.
They will be OK! 

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