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the day I put my homeschooled kids into school

Friday, August 15, 2014

It wasn't sitting well with me. I kept trying, but I just couldn't picture the new school year at home.

I love homeschooling. Well, I love having my older kids at home with me. I love reading books together and playing outside in the middle of the day. I love playgroups and time for adventures. I don't love the constant chaos, or how little focused time I have with my two younger kids. I don't love being responsible for creating all of the energy for our day. Homeschooling requires you to be both the engine and the track for moving your kids forward, and that doesn't leave a lot of energy for much else. I love homeschooling, but suddenly I dreaded the idea of starting another year. I mean, really dreaded it.

But I have strong convictions about education, and what young kids need to thrive. I couldn't just ignore those ideals. Colorado has a charter system, and I found myself constantly staring at my phone, googling schools throughout the day. I couldn't find a school that genuinely interested me. In my head I went back and forth, round and round, all day long. I love having them home, I would think. But I can't be both train and track right now, I would counter.





Before I tell you what happened next, you have to know I'm not the type to play the God card often. I gave up on God's will, remember? I don't pray for specific things to happen in a certain way anymore. And I don't believe there is a right and wrong way to educate our kids. I believe God gives us our own temperaments and passions, he gives us convictions about what our kids need, and he gives our kids their individual personalities. We stir up all those ingredients, and we make the best possible decision for our families at the time.

But lately I can't trust my head or my heart. They are all muddled from the close call last month. Though I rarely pray this way anymore, one afternoon a few weeks ago I was tired of my merry-go-round thoughts. I closed my phone, leaned over my chair, and said out loud, "God, what do you want here? What is best? What do my kids need? What will be good for my whole family?"

I opened my eyes and clicked on Google again. The first site that came up was an elementary Montessori school. In my county. A charter Montessori school, which means it is tuition-free.

I love the Montessori approach. In my pre-kids life, I studied development and taught using many of her methods. If there was ever a school that would be a good fit for our family, this was it. Until that moment, I had not known they even existed locally. We're relatively new to the area, and we moved here with the intention to homeschool, so there is a lot I don't know about local education. I called their number, but of course there was both a lottery back in March and a years-long waiting list. However, the enrollment secretary mentioned there were other Montessori elementary schools in our county.

I was discouraged. No way we're getting in, I thought. It's August, for crying out loud. My wise husband said, "Don't give up. If you think this is best, call every single one you can find. Make them tell you no. You never know what might be out there." I am so glad I followed his suggestion, because the next day I found a school with an opening for both boys.

I couldn't believe it. A school who believed the same things about education as me. A way to spend more time with the two little ones, while also giving my two older kids what I believe they need.

I scheduled a tour, and as I walked through the rooms and talked to the dean, my eyes kept welling up. It was as though I'd yelled up, "Hey God! I need some help down here!" and He'd immediately replied, "Yes you do. Here you go," and handed me a school.

This is what I learned from enrolling my children in school: sometimes grace looks like a year at home with all of my children, working at the table and playing Legos and reading Peter Pan together. And sometimes it looks like carpool line and signing off on reading minutes and making new friends. God is good and big and gracious and wide. God loves my family as much as I do. Just as I want what's best for my kids, He wants what's best for us. All of us.

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Can I tell you the truth? Now that I've written it, I'm afraid to hit publish and share this story. Because education is so divisive, and maybe I'm about to lose every homeschooling mom friend I've made in the past two years? Even the online ones? And maybe I'm going to alienate my public school mom friends at the same time?  We naturally divide our world by who's like us and who's not, and maybe I'm about to get moved into the "not" category by just about everyone I know?

I hope that's not true. I'm going to hit "publish" anyway, and trust you to stick around. I'm going to trust that together we're chasing something bigger than school or friends who look just like us.

What I found in the past few weeks is grace - grace to homeschool, then grace to not. Grace to struggle, even. Grace to call out for help, and grace to receive it when it comes. I am trusting I will find grace with you all too. Together, we will keep looking for grace in the little moments of life. I'm hitting "publish" now, and I'll see you on the flip side. I hope.

10 comments:

  1. Good for you. Homeschooling isn't the important thing here, or it becomes an idol. The kids, the family, education, and you. All of that matters. All of it must be balanced. I think you did a lovely job of listening.

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  2. hope Montessori is good to your little guys! it was NOT the place for Noah in kindergarden. sometimes what the parents think is terrific is not at all what's right for the little people! xoxo

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  3. Kira, thank you! It means a lot to hear that from you.

    Janet, maybe that will be our experience too. But maybe not ... The only way to know is to try it, right?

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    1. I know it! That's why I'm hoping hoping it's a great fit :)

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  4. I am so happy to read this! I know that you are the kind of mom who is CONSTANTLY thinking and praying and agonizing about what is best for your kids. If you had said you were gearing up for another year of homeschool or you were doing private school or you put your kids in a low-income inner city public school.... I would have been just as happy to read this. Because you, my friend, love your kids and you and Brian and God alone know what is best for them. I'm also happy to hear that God gave you such an obvious demonstration of His love and care for your whole family in such a big way. And thank you for sharing all of this with your beautiful words.

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  5. This is great! Its easy to believe there is only ONE right way when it comes to schooling and that if we choose wrongly our kids are going to pay big time. Our big boy is going to school or homeschool (who knows) next year and I've been agonizing over the decision...encouraging read!

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  6. Love this.

    And almost every homeschool mom I have ever spoken with still considers some form of other school from time to time or constantly. I know people who send one kid and keep one home. I know people who let their kids go to school through a certain age and then always pull them and backwards, those who homeschool only through elementary or middle school. There is no uniform right answer.

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  7. Sweet friend - it seems to me that you are learning what I believe is the greatest gift I've received from being a momma to many, and that is grace. I think it was easy to be dogmatic - about any and every thing - when I only had one or two kids. The more that come, the more you let go and defy many of your once dearly held convictions, cause that's what is needed for this child and this momma in this season. And if we change it all up in a few months? That's okay too.

    xo

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  8. At the end of last year I went through several weeks thinking "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this." I was exhausted and burned out, and I seriously thought our homeschooling experiment of 10 years had failed and come to its end. This is the hardest job I have ever had, and I want to do it really well... And so I found myself realizing that I refuse to sacrifice my kids, their education, my marriage, my happiness, or my peace of mind on the idealist altar of homeschooling. I was at peace with throwing in the towel. But, after a summer break(which is new for us- we usually school year round with breaks every 3 or 4 weeks), and asking for help from others- a once a week co-op for my teen and elementary school kids, and a mother in law to watch my toddler a few days a week- I'm feeling differently, and we're going to give it another try. We are gearing up to get started again soon. All of that to say: no judgment here! We are all struggling to do the best we can, and it's going to look different for each family. Sounds like you're making the best choice for yours. God bless you!

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  9. Thank you for this. My boys are in Montessori and at the start of each year I worry if it is still a fit. I stand at the ready to make a change if needed and I stay diligently involved. I'm a working mom and often condemn myself for not being at home or homeschooling. It would never occur to me to be divisive on this subject, as I think us moms need all the help we can get. But I know that is a reality. A sad one. I am typically encouraged by your writing and often check your site for new content. I hope you are encouraged today by this post and know there are moms that needed to read it. I am so thankful for your writing and what you put pen to paper.

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