Friday, November 26, 2010

Homeschool, again :)

How can it be, that 2 years after we tried school we are here again, having "pulled them out" (I hate that expression!) AGAIN? (How can I not blog, oh i mean to everyday, twice a day, dear reader, I assure you) Where do I begin?

Well, it was and is a wonderful wonderful little school. Precious beyond compare. No bullies. No pressure. Not even any grades to speak of. Kindness, sweetness, child-led, you name it. Each teacher loved my kids, and to share raising them was very healing and novel for me. No I am not reverting to the old piteous stuff I used to have in abundance, but truly, I still don't have much in the form of family or babysitting, or more accurately, no one to share in enjoying or raising my kids with besides my husband. It was really neat/cool/amazing/reassuring/normal/confidence boosting to do the normal thing and have my children all accounted for , charted, followed, cared for, known, understood. Even if it was with strange grown ups who do this for money. Does any of that make sense? It made me feel so REAL to get little things on paper that said "Charlie is a kind and helpful boy. He enjoys singing with the class and has mastered counting to 20." "Greta is an amazing artist, and has been a ray of light in our classroom. When she is absent the other kids are lost and depressed." "Mickey is a sweet and conscientious boy who has made amazing strides in math and writing skills. He is a wonderful addition to our classroom." And last but oh-so-not-least: "Casey is a joy to have in class. He is very polite and determined. He is reading with confidence and has made great strides"--- my little adhd mystery child, sometimes monster, sometimes angel, always so MUCH, someone else loves you and enjoys you and is working with you?

BUT. but but but but. They hated it. Really really hated it. In different ways. And it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much work. I mean, breath taking mind blowing head spinning family DECIMATING amounts of work. No organization, no charts, no special closet shelves could ever, ever be enough to do that school lifestyle forever. I had it down to a T and still, just mind boggling how much work it was. To get them all dressed fed clean backpacked and out the door by 7:15 am everyday, ripping poor little Eska out of her crib....and then what? My friends promised/envisioned "Some time to myself"--- but it never seemed to happen. And I tried it all. I tried going right on to some wonderful activity with just my little Eska...I tried go back home and chill out...I tried go back home and clean...I tried go and run never was awesome. It was isolating, to be alone with a 2 year old, i felt lost, lonely, scared, I tried to go visit my sister, a couple of my girlfriends, and it was just clock-watching and stressful. Twice school called me to go get a kid for some incident, leaving me at the school with one tot and one kid, to rot in the van until 3pm...

I really could go on and on but basically they started in on me, hard. The older 2 kids, Greta and Mickey especially. Amazing logical valid complaints. Bargaining. Begging. Tears. Depression. Desperation. Despair. Frustration. Mama we could learn this sill stuff on Wikipedia, Mama give us another chance, Mama please please I literally cannot go tomorrow Mama Mama Mama we will do ANYTHING please we want to come home we miss you we miss Eska Mama Mama MAmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Steve and I talked to the teachers. A LOT. They spoke of "transitioning" and such. They claimed the kids seemed more than okay in class, happy and healthy, and that maybe we were getting duped. Only made everything more confusing.

And then, we started talking in earnest. About Things Would Have To Change Around Here If You Came Back Home, stuff like rules and respect and accountability and privileges and consequences and restrictions and all that sort of stuff. The stuff I didn't use or need when they were "all little", when homeschool was paper snowflakes and math with raisins and 7 pm bedtimes with me and Daddy cleaning after they were asleep. Yes, Things Would Have To Change Around Here, because somehow, someway, this summer was all about me being completely railroaded and abused by a gaggle of spoiled rotten lazy monsters, hiding in the bathroom wondering if I should take up alcoholism or run away or divorce just for the weekends off. Dead serious.

And then we did it. And it is going really well. And I miss the teachers, so much. They were REALLY involved and close and personal and so so sweet. But we don't miss any of the rest of it. Greta is allowed to have a Facebook account now, as long as we know all her friends and she uses it in the middle of the living room, so she chats away to her pals and they don't seem to discuss school or homeschool whatsoever, just their Japanese Manga and silly jokes and drawings. She really wanted the new friends and she got them, even a little "boyfriend" whom we basically told her that she cant go anywhere with or do anything with but if she wants to say this is her boyfriend, yes we will allow that. (He kind of disappeared once she left school, kids don't talk on the phone like they did in the 80s or 90s it seems but I think it made her feel normal to have a boyfriend for a few weeks haha)

I am sick about the money we spent on the uniforms, hundreds I bet. But we are keeping the dress pants and socks and belts, and although I don't think any of them will ever want to wear a polo shirt for a long long time, all in all we are loving being back together.

I don't regret this, it helped us a lot. I am still unsure if I would rather have kids who loved their school or a happy homeschool. I was willing to do all that work, willing to be on school time from 6am to after 10 pm, six days a week (Sundays were furies of laundry and groceries, tears and preparations) but once they started hating it, weeping (often all five of them all the way to school, a 30 minute drive on a good morning! The noise! Ack!) it felt really useless.

I said it years ago and ill say it again, School should be three days a week. No homework.

Anyhow, we are home and I am back and the weather in Michigan is blustery as of a couple of days ago and this is all intense deja vu of '08 but without all the PTSD and PPD and dying family members. I look forward to being a cool blogger girl again and updating my blog pictures and links and all that good stuff.

HUGS to all!


MamaVee said...

Hurrah! You are still around, I am glad, I have wondered about you. I'm glad you're doing what is right for you and your know them best, and you are obviously such a well-bonded little group, you should be together all the time!

I'm looking forward to more blogging from you - you've been missed, and I'm still here...waiting to read what you have to say!

Jill said...

I am LOVING Greta's new hairs! Very Paramore.

The school stuff, you have to do what is right. I imagine that was a really hard decision. Me, I am conflicted either way...homeschool is REALLY HARD even with just ONE kid to teach, and another to somehow occupy in the meantime, but public school would be worse. I dream about schools like you described. Who knows what the future holds. I sincerely hope that this change works for you guys.

Hey, where in Michigan are you? Near Detroit? We may be moving up there in the next year or so. I finally managed to convince someone to do the communal homestead with me and she lives in Southgate right now, wants to get a place in Wynadotte for all of us. Would we be near you guys? Feel free to tell me on Facebook if you don't want your real location on here.

Kelley said...

Holy cow, Girl! I just looked at the pictures on your side bar. When did you kids get so big?!? And, Greta! She's so GROWN-UP!

I am thrilled for you. I know this wasn't an easy decision because I've had to make it myself on occasion. Right now, Josh is in school and the others are all at home. I miss him, but he needs school right now, and I need him in school right now, and my other boys need to be home and get my attention during the day.

I hope this isn't a copy of '08 for you. Personally, I think that year should be stricken from the records. Never happened. Except for the addition of two very sweet girls, one for you and one for me.

Eska's getting huge, too! Where is all the time going? Pretty soon we're going to be old grandmas watching our kids' kids run around. Yikes!

greendraggon said...

Wow. I can't even remember the bizarre series of links that led me here, but I LOVE how your blog is so raw and real.
All the best you!

Shandi Marie said...

like the 3 days, no homework idea ;]

Rini said...

Oh, bite your tongue! School can only be three days a week if work follows suit. It's hard enough to fit in any time with the boy around work, I couldn't stand having to pay for two days a week of random childcare as well!

Olivia said...

I hope this works out well for your family and the children keep up the momentum to keep things running smoothly.

I have a question, though. If the children are unable to cope with going to montessori school, do you worry about them dealing with college and/or work later in life? I've always wondered how homeschooled and unschooled children make that transition.

Housefairy said...

Olivia, thank you for the question.
I wouldn't say that my children on a case per case basis were unable to cope with school. But as a family, we were losing much more than we were getting out of it. It was and is my option alongside my husband to put or keep them in school. I hesitated to write this post because there is no time in my life to really get into each complexity of why it was going south for us.

How my children will fare in college, to me, is a question only slightly related, as they will be not only much older, but hopefully in a much more autonomous and independant place in their lives, having options from when and which classes to take, if and when to attend college, community, university, online, etc, and to what capacity.
My children "performed" beautifully. They got all good marks, finished all assignments, and we got our state testing results back (MEAP tests in Michigan) and their scores were in the high 90th percentiles in all subjects. They just hated the whole stress and anxiety of it all, and it was a very complex decision that left me emotionally drained rather than refreshed as I had somehow envisioned this year to be for me...alas.

As far as work, it is hard for me to understand why one might conclude that children who learn better outside of a school building might therefore be seen as possible potential poor workers. Greta already babysits and goes way above and beyond what the parents ever ask her to do. My kids are 13 down to 2, so theres not much else I can say on that. Unschoolers and homeschoolers usually become very SELF motivated (rather than externally motivated) workers and college students, after a lifetime of following interests to their natural conclusions rather than to the tune of a bell or a gold star sticker, they are on the whole, wonderfully dedicated and earnest people who "know" themselves in a way that many of us adults can only dream of.

I would not say they were unable to cope with montessori. I would say that the toll this particular scene took on us as a famaily was excessive, and unless you have 5+ children, it is hard to explain.

Housefairy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Housefairy said...


I am for school. All of it. Public, private, charter. And I know that the school year which was based on the needs of agrarian families' harvest schedules in the 1800s has now come to (sort of!) meet the needs of the modern working parents, serving as both childcare/babysitting and Place Of Learning. For it to go down to 3 days a week or for there to be no homework would not help any one who would therefore have to scramble for childcare, and perhaps this is why I am just a blogger and not a politician :)

FOR US, a great deal of the exhasution came from the sheer amount of it all for what we actually got out of it.

*there are other countries who go 4 days a week, or have Wednesdays off, or go 1/2 Saturdays...but these countries are the very ones who cherish and support thier families and have wonderful maternity leaves, paternity leaves, and WANT mothers and fathers to be with their children, so apropriate support is probably NOT the pipe dream or at very least, SCRAMBLE that it would be here in the States.

Hope that helps!

Olivia said...

Thank you for answering my question and understanding I meant no disrespect. The work question is always on my mind because I think of the jobs I've had in my life. Various 8-5 office jobs that I think will always be my lot. I have verly littl autonomy so I wonder how a person who is used to having much more freedom of choice would cope.

But, then I wonder if I had been raised outside of the traditional school model, maybe I would be more able to create a better work situation for myself instead of seeing work as just work that has to be done to pay the bills.

Really, best wishes to you and your family.

Stassja said...

Olivia - I was homeschooled 3rd grade until I graduated high school. When I went to public school, granted, it was only a few years, but I hated it. Bored to tears, random mean kids, the whole shebang. Loved being homeschooled, although there were times when I wanted more friends, to be normal, blah blah blah whine whine mooooooom! Blessedly my parents never gave into me (and I was not at the point these kids seem to be, I made a fuss but I was not depressed/weeping any of that). I got into a nice little private college easily and although I only went a semester (life called me elsewhere) I really really enjoyed it and I know I would have (continued to) excelled at it.

College was alot less structured, and even taking 14-16 credits, you don't spend a ton of time IN class. Every day is a different mix of classes. And it's different being there more under your own power, no parent standing over you wagging a finger, there's accountability. Homeschooled kids already have the leg up in that respect in college, because we're used to self-led study. My last few YEARS of high school, my mom really did nothing with me except buy the text (and alot of times I helped her choose those). My last year I had my grandfather teach my physics and brush up my math, but that was only weekends. I was really self-taught through most of high school, so transitioning was not difficult for me. I got myself to classes, and worked part time on the side. I lived at home so I did not have the convenience of living on campus, but the commute wasn't terrible.

At any rate, I imagine alot is the kiddos missing being home with mom. I can totally get that! I ended up married at 18 and although we are now very VERY different in our beliefs and ideals, I remain very close to my parents and hope to live near them again one day.

Stassja said...

And to Joy! I really hope things are working better for you now. I too am torn between the idea of good homeschool and good private school, and trying not to set my hopes on any such thing. This just reaffirms to me that it's right to be playing it by ear to see what the kids need. I hope things stay on the up and up for you. :)

Rixa said...

I'm really interested to follow your schooling adventures. I'd always thought that a public (charter) Montessori school would be a dream option. I still don't know what I'm going to do with Zari. I'm not at all excited about our public school--and there are no other choices around here--but I don't really want to homeschool, either.

Oh, and I've always said that school should be half-days and no homework (until high school, where kids are old enough to really get into more serious stuff...but not elementary and middle school for sure). I think you and I are on the same track!

mamaluv321 said...

Great blog! I just "pulled" my kids from public school as well and so far so good. It's great to hear other perspectives than the usual one side or the other. Thanks for sharing your adventures!