I’ve often said I have too many plates spinning at once and I’d like to find a way to take a few of them down. Well I tried to do that this year when I put the children in school – only those plates got replaced with personal issues that are spinning now and absolutely must be managed for the sake of all involved! You know – it’s not like I really have had a break. Sure there are days, like today, where I find I have little to actually do and Claire and I have a low-key day.  It’s these days that I can relate, now in a different way, to the women of the 50’s whom the anti-feminist talk about with envy. These are the days I wonder – is this ALL I would do if my children were in school full time and I really was JUST a full-time home maker? OMG! I’d go insane!

Having the children in school has definitely expanded my perspective about things. Home schooling tends to leave one fairly narrow minded regarding the overall well being of each individual child. This is a generalized statement folks – not a moral attack against home schooling. It’s just – for me anyway – well I was hell bent that we were going to be a home educating family and anything else was simply not an option.  And it was a moral issue. Good Christians just DIDN’T send their children to school and ESPECIALLY NOT public school! It was how I defined myself and our family. I couldn’t even consider any other option.

Well – I have a few things to say regarding public school education. It is exactly what I thought it would be. Nothing more. And nothing less. It isn’t horrible. But it isn’t great. It isn’t even mediocre. It’s barely sufficient compared to the home schooler’s gold standards for education. I think Charlotte Mason would roll over in her grave if she knew I had betrayed her model of teaching for the public school system!!  But – on the other hand – the children are actually doing very very well! Ean is reading, almost on a 2nd grade level now – something he fought me on every single day for 2 years!  He is no longer borderline depressed  and his artwork is joyful and fun and happy. Before it was depressive, full of death and sadness and heartbreaking to look at. Ean draws a lot. And he would draw lots of dead people and cross out people’s eyes and it was really disturbing. Now – it’s hearts and butterflies and rainbows and it’s happy and he is just happy again. Hannah is talking SO MUCH BETTER. She’s TOTALLY potty trained and she’s READING!!!!  She’s actually reading on a 1st grade level and she just loves school.  She loves the structure of school and she is enjoying the educational challenge right now. Adri’s behaviour has turned almost completely around. Before, there were almost daily fights in the house. He is very hyper and he is unmanageable without a very structured routine.  The structure provided by a school setting is everything he needed and everything I can’t give him. He’s so smart and so creative and there’s this whole side of his personality that has matured and develloped this past semester in school that causes me to just stand back and say, “WOW! Home schooling was repressive to him!!”

There have been issues with character that have come up. There have been some new words learned and some attitudes that have had to be adjusted. There have been some fist fights with neighborhood kids!! And there has even been a dreaded *albeit short and sweet* conversation regarding the “s-e-x” word. But those things are going to come up anyway. I can’t shelter the children forever. I wish I could. I really do wish I could be like Wendy or Gwendolyn or even like…dare I say it??….Robin!  But I am just not able to – right now in this season of our lives – to home educate. And maybe I never will be again. I don’t know – I just don’t know what the future holds. If one day, God calls me to home educate again, I know it will be because it is of Him and it is supposed to happen and the right puzzle pieces will fall into place.

But for now. I’m welcoming the positive change school has been for our family. There are things that are lacking in their education and I will actually be supplementing them next semester. Like handwriting – did you know they don’t actually teach copywork or any formal handwriting after 2nd grade??  They don’t even really teach cursive! Adri’s in 4th grade and they haven’t covered even one handwriting assignment. His teacher said she’s lucky if she can get them to print correctly. *Sigh* And math. Adri was behind in math before we put him in 4th grade so he’s going to continue next semester with his Math U See after school so that I know he’s getting the skills learned and not just memorizing facts and missing the elements. And in January I am planning on getting the children up a little earlier every morning so that after all the hustle and bustle of the morning is over – before they load up in the car – we can have a short devotional and a short scripture memory card to work on together. I would like to add memory work back into their academics. They definitely don’t do this at school.

Royce and I were marveling at how much public school has changed since I was a child. He had the priveledge of attending private school. And we fully intend to place our children in private school when they hit middle school age. There will be options available to us by the time Adri is in 6th grade. But just the simple fact that they don’t do arithmetic, handwriting or phonics (reading) every single day is flabbergasting! They are so focused on whatever TAKS test is going to be required of the children that year, there isn’t room for anything else. So, in Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policy, every child is getting a short changed education. It’s a real shame. The public school system has the propensity to do wonderful things for our country – but, as it stands now, it is not living up to it’s full potential.

And, in other notes – there may be a lack of God and Christianity in the legal red tape side of the public school system, but as far as all the teachers and administrators go, that I’ve had to deal with… well we’ve not encountered any opposition to our Christianity nor our position on home education. In fact, we’ve received nothing but praise and support for the job we’ve done so far and the job we continue to do alongside the school. I’m thankful for the help the school system has been to our family this semester. I’m learning a lot about what went wrong in our home school through this whole experience and like I said, I don’t know what God will ask of us in the future. Maybe we will home educate some of the children again – but I don’t actually forsee ever bringing Adri home full time again. He just requires too much structure, too much attention. And you, dear reader who doesn’t know me nor Adri, can judge that as you want, but unless you raise a child like Adri you just don’t really understand what I mean when I say that he will suck every last ounce of energy out of you. The child requires so much stimulation it is unreal. School provides it for him. Sadly, home schooling did not meet his physiological needs.

I plan to write more about this later – but need to go b/c this post is getting too long – but I’ve learned a lot, suffice it to say – and thank God for opening my eyes and, basically, forcing me into a corner so that I had to make a decision to do something different. Because when it was time to put the children in school, I was in a desperate state – and I can’t imagine where I’d be right now if I hadn’t allowed myself the right to make the choice to utilize the public school system without guilt and shame. It has all been part of the cult deprogramming.  Swinging from one side to the other – and then finding the middle ground and standing on 2 feet.