Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Which I Reject End of the School Year Guilt... Before School Starts

It's our second year to homeschool, and we haven't started yet. Like last year, we're starting in September instead of August. I made this decision months ago, but I still feel a bit left out and "behind" as I watch all of the photos of backpack-toting children fill up my Facebook and Instagram news feeds. It's all so new each year - the notebooks are flat and unmarked, the pencils are hazardously sharp and ready to go. The backpacks are free of sharpie marks and crinkles and lunch leftovers from the week before. I love it. Even though my kids don't really use new backpacks (since school happens in the dining room), each new box of crayons sings to me of possibilities. I'm still a child like that.

In all of my excitement, there is an undercurrent of realism. Last year was hard. It was also great. A newborn, angry and tormented with colic and silent reflux layered over our first school year experience. There were a lot of sacrifices made, and a lot of items on my list that had to be removed or adjusted. Fun activities weren't as frequent as we'd hoped, and field trips were practically a joke. But we finished, and at the end of the year when I assessed Micah's understanding of all of the skills we'd learned that year, I was absolutely proud.

But I know - I know that my fun activities will start strong each new school year and there will be fewer of them in the second half of the year. I know that even though everyone clears their calendar for the first weeks of school year, the supplemental commitments and activities creep back in and that is life. I understand that in the first part of our school year, lunches will be more interesting, lessons will be more fun, and everyone will be more excited.

And I don't feel bad about that anymore. Something clicked for me last year. Even if we are eating ramen noodles for lunch and having pizza for dinner by May, I will probably still be on Pinterest looking for fun First Day of School activities come the end of June. Despite the jokes about getting lazy toward the end of the school year and our humorous self-deprecating remarks, I think maybe it's just supposed to be this way. I won't feel guilty for being tired as we pull the rear wagon wheels over the finish line at the end of the school year - my kids will be "done" and weary, too. We're in it together. Whether it's public school, private school, or homeschool.

We start strong because it's a new beginning; a new start. There will be hard days, but we anticipate and celebrate the good moments we can immediately appreciate and the memories we gain from pushing through the hard ones. We start strong because our kids are important to us and their education and future is something we invest in fully and unapologetically. We finish tired because we worked hard.

So here I am, excited for our curriculum to arrive on my doorstep, deciding now not to let the guilt creep in right on cue after Christmas break. Whether lunch is sandwiches cut into the shape of diagrammed sentences or ramen noodles with sausage thrown in so we feel like we've had some protein. We're going to do it, and we're doing it together. All of it.


  1. I admire you for homeschooling. Your children are being brought up with values as well with intelligence. Some of the kids I get coming through my room give me mixed emotions. Anything from compassion, fright, intelligent, to what happened to make this child this way?.
    You are able to teach your child Christian values, that I am not allowed to do. So I try to by example. You can go on a field trip anytime you so desire without having to have a bus with a driver, permission slips, etc. You don't have to worry that the kid in the seat next to yours isn't going to decide to fight him/her.
    On the other hand, I love teaching. The challenges are amazing. I get monetary payment, and at night I go home without them. I have had home-schooled kids in my class that were extremely intelligent and some who could not read the side of a cardboard box of cereal. I guess what I am saying is, whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, love your kids, and teach them the best you can. (I try my best to do that.)Most important, let them know you care. I have a feeling you are one of the best home schooled teachers out there.
    I do have a suggestion since they are being home-schooled if you don't mind. Make a yearbook with them. Take pictures and let them take pictures. At the end of the year, make a year book together. Don't forget to have fun.

  2. I love hearing your heart, you dedication and love towards you amazing children. I pray for all my friends who have school age children, both at home and sending them off. That God guides and protects each little heart, mind body and soul. Looking forward to hearing about the progress!

  3. I love the comment from Pat. I have considered homeschooling but made the decision to send the kids to public school, at least for now. Every child is different just as every parent is different. My son seems to do better when someone else is teaching him. Although I had a hard time sending him on the bus for the first time this morning. He just seems so small, so young. How was I able to let him go like that? You are doing great with what you are doing and your children will benefit highly from it.


Ooooh, I love comments! :) Thanks for taking the time to let me know you came by! If you aren't sure how to comment just type in what you want to say and select Name/Url as your selected commenting profile -- you don't even have to type in a URL, just your first name! You can also use the "Anonymous" option and put your name at the end of your comment!