This week has been so incredibly long. I suppose any week that starts on one coast and ends on another can feel like that. It's not just the miles I flew or the timezones I'm still not quite reacclimated to. It's been an emotional week.
We made the decision this week to finish out this year of homeschooling and re-enroll the kids in public school next year.
I know...I'm shocked too.
There are so many things that I absolutely love about homeschooling. I love getting to plan and direct what they kids are learning. I love having them here with me, watching them grasp a new concept, hearing them play together. I love that one on one time, the reading together, the times the kids take what we've learned and turn it into a play. The opportunity to incorporate our faith into our school time, the chance to explore the kid's strengths and weaknesses...it's all been wonderful.
But we're sending them back to school next fall.
It has been an excruciating decision. Even more difficult than the original decision to homeschool that we made last spring. I've cried many tears, we've said many prayers and I have been wrestling with this for the last few months. Last week, I'd decided they had to go back. Last weekend while I was in California, I convinced myself we could do this indefinitely. This week when I got home, I knew the decision that had to be made. Tom has been incredibly supportive in all of this, but ultimately it is my decision simply because I am the one who bears the brunt of the work and responsibility.
There are quite a few reasons, many of which I'm not going to be sharing publicly. I am willing to share two of the biggest considerations, though.
First and formost, I don't believe our finances will survive another year of homeschooling. Tom hasn't seen a real pay raise since we moved to Florida, even though the cost of living has risen rather steeply. He took a significant paycut this year and will be taking another one next year. I realize that we're certainly not special in that aspect, and that there are many families facing many of the same financial difficulties we are. We've reached the point where I simply must be able to work more hours in the studio, something that isn't possible when my entire morning is devoted to schooling.
Second, my health is suffering. It's been nearly a year since I became ill and while I am feeling significantly better, I still deal with fatigue and pain in my legs and feet on a daily basis. As Tom reminded me earlier this week, our family doesn't work if I'm not healthy.
Right now, I have a lot of what if's...what if I were healthier going into this? What if Tom weren't in seminary or working the hours he does? What if we lived in an area with more homeschoolers and more homeschooling group/co-op options? What if I didn't have to work? What if I'd started when the kids were younger? What if...
I know, though, that the what if's will drive me a little crazy if I let them and I can't allow that to happen. There have been some huge successes in this one year - Caleb is reading so much better and has flourished in math, Hanna is making strides in personal areas and has been able to nurture her creative side in ways that she never could in public school. We've been able to identify some problem areas that could have been far worse if they weren't discovered for a few more years. And I was able to do something that I've always wanted to attempt, and for the most part, I've had a great time doing it.
I went into this year with high hopes and ideals, but also with the knowledge that homeschooling would likely be the most difficult thing I've ever attempted.
I was right.
We've got about two months more to go, and will finish up the school year at the end of May. We have a few more weeks on our Ancient Rome unit and will continue on with the rest of our studies. I'm working on a train unit in preparation for our train trip this summer and I think I'm also going to do a study of Abraham Lincoln. We'll be attending a wedding near his birthplace in Kentucky in early June and that seems a fitting way to complete the school year.
I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in the next few months and I know that I'll feel that pang of anxiety and regret when school starts in the fall, but I know that this is the right choice right now.