Today is the day when most public schools in NSW commence for the year. Today, three of our children will be among the number of children starting school, with a fourth to follow tomorrow.
We aren’t home educating any more. While I’m not going to swear that the door on that topic is shut forever, we do not have any intentions of returning to home education. After our children had twelve months in school a few years back (when I had health problems) and we returned to home education, Mark and I agreed that we wouldn’t get into a yoyo pattern of sending them to school and pulling them out and sending them to school and… well, you get the idea. We agreed that if we sent them back to school within the next few years that the intention was the change would be permanent.
If school ceases to work for one or all of our kids we would be open to home educating again but at this point in time we will not be returning to home education.
In short, previously home education was the best choice for our family but it no longer is, as of about six months ago, and so we have chosen to take a different path. The whole story is a bit more complicated.
There are two key reasons why home education isn’t the best choice for our family. They are 1. me and 2. the kids.
For whatever reasons, whether they be my makeup, my upbringing, my sins and failures or my circumstances, I need a lot of time to myself to just be. That isn’t all luxury time, reading and watching TV, getting my nails painted and sitting in the cafe having lunch with friends. Occasionally there will be that but on the whole I need quiet. I need alone time. I need to be able to focus on one thing at a time.
When we were homeschooling I was wife, mother, home educator and home maker. And I was doing a pretty poor job of all of those things. Unless I hired a housekeeper (anyone wish to pay for one for me?) the only negotiable thing on that list was home educator. By taking just one of the roles out of my list, it means I have a lot more energy to focus on the other three. By having some down time, to myself, during the day I can prepare myself to be a better wife and better mother, more present to my family during the hours they will be home. MY hope is that I will be able to get the bulk of the housework done while the kids are at school so that I can be more available to them when they are home.
It started with Josiah. I didnt feel capable of home educating him with his “special needs”, as well as educating the other three, and the feedback from early intervention and preschool was that he loved being “one of the gang” and found that really motivating to help him learn. He really thrived in the small group environment of early intervention and so we decided that the best place for him would be in a small group of peers – at school. We were fortunate enough to receive an offer of a place in a support class (only seven or eight kids per class with a teacher and a teacher’s aide) in a local school. So Josiah will get what he needs there.
Our other children needed things that I can’t provide them with. Some need more structure and routine than I can provide. Some need the peer pressure of seeing what the other children are doing to put more effort into their work. Some need someone else, not just mum, asking things of them. In the end, they all needed things that we could no longer provide them at home.
This is not the end, however.
I think we will always be the parents who take their kids to fairs and museums and art galleries and the like. We will always be interested and involved in their education. We will play board games and watch documentaries and interesting, educational TV shows. That’s just who we are. “We Learn 4 Fun” doesn’t stop just because we aren’t home educating 24/7.
So we will still be here as a family. Still learning. Still being together. It’s just going to look a little different.