Saturday, September 6, 2008


A new school year began this week. It was a breezy week of yellow sunshine, a few falling leaves, and end-of-summer warmth. The school buses rumbled down our street. They stopped for Larissa and waited for her to show up because the driver had not yet been notified that she was not returning to school. (Alexandra, who was in high school, was part of a group stop while Larissa had a bus stop for her alone right in front of our home.) I could see the girls looking somewhat longingly at the yellow buses that have been part of their lives since Kindergarten. Was I doing the right thing pulling them out of school this year to homeschool them?

I had a big internal battle over that this week. A large part of me said that their public schooling was high quality and that I could never do as good a job as trained teachers in expensive facilities with the latest lab equipment and books, and even math and science tutors available any hour of the school day on a walk-in basis. How could I match that? I was feeling frazzled over scheduling courses for three students – two in high school and one in junior high. Chemistry, physical science, vocabulary, literature, American history, global history, writing assignments, grammar, music, art, cooking… I’m responsible for these and more. I juggle scheduling time with tutors for math, French, and Spanish. I’m really nervous about taking on the kids’ education, stressed out over the long evenings of writing lesson plans and schedules, and worried about how I’ll balance this with work.

Yes, work. I was on a medical leave for a couple of months, but now I’m working again. Thanks to my illness and my doctor, I’m working solely from home now, and only 6 hours per day, but when the medical leave runs out and my health is no longer fragile, I’m expected to go back to my company office. And I really don’t want to do that. I’m much happier, and even more productive, when I work from home. I also want to cut back from full-time to part-time employment. Will my company agree?

So as I worry over the quality of my kids’ education, I question them over and over: What did you do in your English class? Am I covering what your History teacher would cover? How did you spend class time in science? Since my children were not homeschooled from early grades, they could compare what they learn at home versus what they were learning in school. And I’m just not sure how I’ll stack up.

One thing cheers me, and that’s that they will no longer have the setup/teardown time when changing classes, which ate a lot of time daily. After they switch classes, the kids have to settle into their new classroom, listen to announcements or write down assignments, take out their books. All this wastes time. At home, they just grab the next book in the pile, the next notebook, and continue on. Still, I feel that by reading everything they learn, they’ll get bored. Read and read and read all day long, punctuated by some writing. And playing the piano.

“I want to go to school,” Alexandra scribbled in the margin of her Health assignment last week. I’m sure she misses her friends. But last year she couldn't wait to leave the school environment and be homeschooled.

I’m just so torn…

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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)