Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nearing the Finish Line

We've almost completed our first year of Homeschooling here, so I thought I'd take a moment to look back...think about what worked and what didn't work...reflect.


OK. So.

This time last year, I was in a little bit of a panic. The Hubby and I knew, pretty much beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we did NOT want to send the twins to middle school. (Did you just hear that dreadful music? It plays in the background whenever I type the words middle school? Seriously. Dum dum DA dum. Screech, screech, screech. It's sort of a cross between the Psycho shower scene music and the theme from Jaws. You didn't hear it? Maybe it's just me.) Anyway, middle school (there it it again) is a tough time for any kid. Three years of peer pressure, influences (good and bad), hormonal awakenings, mean kids, friendships, bullies, teachers on power trips, mentors, bad food, gym class, dances, etc. No matter who you are, middle school is harsh. Whatever. No thank you.

On top of all that, our local school system is bleeding money like a punctured artery. It ain't pretty.

So, for many and various reasons we decided there was no way in the world we would be sending our boys down the road to the middle school. Instead, we would turn them into dorky, unsocialized, homeschooled goobers. And at this point, it looks like we've been successful!

First things first. After making the decision to homeschool, I began to comb the internet for information. (Read that: I began to beg Chelsea to let me send my twins to her house for the school year so SHE could teach them. But she said NO.) We chose curriculum. We found an association. Or an accountability group. Or maybe it's both? We set up some bookshelves and a dry erase board. We bought materials. We selected the date on which we would begin teaching our own kids. And then, we prayed!

Because how do you really KNOW if you're making the right decision?

Well, I'll tell you. It takes time. I second-guessed myself for about nine or ten weeks. Every single day I wondered if I was doing a disservice to my boys by not exposing them to the "rites of adolescence" that the other kids were experiencing. And what if I wasn't able to make them learn? What if we couldn't figure out the circumference of a circle together? What if they grew up to be ignorant because I took them out of school after fifth grade?? What if Chelsea tricked me and homeschooling was really scary and hard? What if my kids wouldn't listen and behave? Then what?

Here's what happened: I obsessed, over-planned and over-scheduled, and within a few weeks we settled into a routine that works for us anyway. I bought way too many books and programs even though Chelsea warned me they weren't necessary, and withing a few weeks we knew what was worth it and what wasn't. My twins became more relaxed and confident in themselves and their abilities. They don't feel inferior or compared to anybody. They are no longer stressing about their grades or spazzing out over tests. It isn't "uncool" to be smart anymore. The math-hater? He's learned to love it. The ADHD hyper-active jumping bean child that teachers couldn't cope with? He's no longer on medication and functioning quite well. My OCD boy? The one who washed the skin right off of his hands last year? The one who was so afraid of flu germs and snot? He's a different child.

And as for socialization, well, they have friends. There is a boy up the street that they play with often. They see kids at church and martial arts and family get-togethers. They have sleep-overs, and they hang out. Without having to deal with the day-to-day pressures of fitting in.

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