This fall has been a busy one. We have more activities going on than we have in past school years.
Mini co-op for art
Homeschool PE 1x/week (this is an organized large group)
Mini co-op for French and Writing
We've been busy for the past eight weeks. But, what now? My middle daughter loves soccer. Should we become a year round sports family? Can we say no? yes?
Yesterday, I sat watching my daughter's soccer game and talked with a mom sitting next to me who had come to cheer on her friend's daughter. This woman's two sons play sports year round and she was surprised when I said we only did soccer. I immediately felt this emotion well up in me that I needed to explain that we do a lot of other things, too, though.
As parents we all want to do well by our kids. Every parent I know does, including my husband and me. But, he asked me to pause and step back before I jump into committing our daughter to playing soccer year round.
What are our priorities? We do have three children, not just 1. Are we ready for that (soccer/sports) to become the focus of our lives? I didn't realize before how easy it would be for my mind to sway. I want my kids to have a good, well rounded education. I'm willing to push myself. But, at the same time, I know that my kids are happier when they aren't stressed and have enough time to get their work done.
I'm not exactly sure what activities we're going to pick up this winter to help us stay physically active, but I know I need to be careful about what I take on and that I make sure I'm not neglecting one of my children over another.
Jump to another scene from this week...
This past Monday night I was a part of a panel discussing homeschooling with a group of parents. I listened to the other parents and found myself pondering several questions at the end of the night.
1. Are my children having fun in school?
2. Are my children driven?
The answers to both made me pause again--in the same way that our choices about sports are making me pause. I don't think my kids would say school is fun. They enjoy their co-op classes and activities. My girls are willing to do their work and are growing and learning. My son is struggling to do the subjects he doesn't want to, but he understands it is his responsibility to learn and do his work. The discussions about homeschooling through high school particularly made me pause. The kids who advance are driven. But, my oldest isn't driven the way they describe and the way I was when I was her age. Yet, she is taking 6 high school courses as an 8th grader. When I realized this, I knew I needed to find a way to take something away. So, we took her health off the table. I am going to spread it out over the next 2 years.
For some families, homeschooling is fun. I think my family has its fun times and I enjoy the time I have with my kids. When Sami made pancakes for everyone this week, enlisting her sister and brother and teaching them before school began one day--that was fun. When we decorated pumpkins on Thursday before school began--that was fun. When Eli did his science experiment with bubbles and the girls joined in blowing bubbles everywhere--that was fun. But, it isn't all fun. There's lots of work, too.
One of the topics that came up during the panel was how long it takes to homeschool. For some families homeschooling only takes an hour for kindergarten and 3-4 hours a day for 1st-8th grades. I have realized that it has a lot to do with the curriculum you choose, how much work you ask your children to complete, and how easy it is for them to complete it. Preschool was 30 minutes 2x/week for PK3 and 45 min. 3x/week for PK4, but once we hit Kindergarten, it took us 2-3 hours or a little more because our work got spread out while I juggled my younger children. When I followed the Well Trained Mind for kindergarten with my oldest it took longer. First grade was hard with my oldest. I pushed my daughter too hard, listening to the Well Trained Mind and its very intensive, idealistic view of what homeschooling should look like. Then, long about the middle of the year, I realized that I needed to change course with her, or we both would never survive! I let go of the Well Trained Mind because it didn't fit us (though I know many families love it!). I began to find my own path. And we've been on our own path since. But, that path takes longer each day than the families I was listening to on Monday night. If we get a full day of school in at home, we work for 6-7 hours. This year, we only get one full day at home in which we don't have activities interrupting our day.
I think homeschooling isn't a cookie cutter mold that one can plop onto a piece of bread and cut out a perfectly shaped sandwich. Our families are all different. I'm just trying to remember we don't have to do everything and we don't have to keep up with the Jones', so to speak.
It has been an interesting week.