It's been quite the big decision to stop homeschooling and send my kids back to "real" school. I had/have mixed feelings about it, but we are taking it one day, one week at a time and going in with very clear expectations of what it will be like - the good and the bad bits.
So do you want the good news or the bad news, I ask? And don't wait for an answer - because we all want the good news first.
- No more prepping school work! As an ex-teacher, I didn't mind putting together "curriculum" and learning plans and getting resources and books that I thought would work for us. When I wasn't working, that is! Trying to work full-time AND keep the kids up to date with interesting engaging school work/learning activities AND trying to manage a household AND trying to look after me, really wasn't working. I managed, but I can't say I did a great job in the last year and the kids really just got the basics and lots of worksheets and textbooks. They may as well have been at school! So it is with some great sense of relief that someone else is doing all the planning and prep now.
- Socialisation! Yes, we homeschooled and yes, we were able to meet other people, talk to them, catch up with friends and be social. But moving to Canberra meant a new start. Ideally, I would take the kids along to all the amazing homeschool-ey events and groups here and meet new people, but me working full-time made that a little difficult. And the although the kids get on amazingly well for two teens that spent and inordinate amount of time together, they were starting to get a bit over each other. So it has been lovely to hear other kids names mentioned at the dinner table, and nice to know they haven't had to hide away in the library at lunch. They have made friends and have a group of friends to talk to. Video Boy has all his friends Skype and Steam deets, so the interaction continues online into the evening.
- The kids are fine academically! Even with my "lite" curriculum and minimal bookwork approach, they are so far ahead of the game. Video Boy is amused that basically no-one in his English class knows what irony is (let alone that there are different types of irony) or what a metaphor is. Both kids are realising that a lot (note: there is no such word as alot) of succeeding in school is being able to comprehend the written word; something they are both great at. They are not behind in maths or science or any of the subjects where you build on prior knowledge. They actually often complete their classwork much quicker than their classmates (wonders will never cease!) and they are reasonably diligent at getting as much work done in class, rather than bring it home as homework. I am going to claim just the tiniest bit of credit for all of the above. Go me!
- We have routine! The kids actually know what day of the week it is now, and even what date - something that was embarrassingly lacking in our homeschool life! They are slowly getting into a pre-school and post-school day routine of getting ready and doing homework. I think this will be good for them heading into the senior years of study and (hopefully) university.
- They are gaining independence and real life skills! Although most homeschoolers can claim they spend more time in the "real world" than their counterparts at school, I did find the kids kinda relying on me. Now they catch the bus to and from school, buy stuff from the canteen, and figure stuff out by "them-selfes". I'm working on the getting themselves organised by themselves every day - my plan is to become redundant (hey, I gotta have dreams!!).
- The kids are really comfortable in their own skins and have their heads screwed on the right way! I am so happy though that we have had the chance to homeschool these last 4 years. They were important years in their physical, mental and emotional development and I think by being at home, with people who love them and experiencing a different way of learning, they have had the opportunity to feel really secure in themselves. They not only have had the chance to develop into their "authentic selves" and feel good about that, they also can see the faults in the school system and take them with a grain of salt. They aren't "sheeples", they can think for themselves and think critically, and for that I will take a lot of credit!
- On my Rostered Days Off I have quiet, me time! You know, what all the mum's gloat about when school starts back. Admittedly, those days are filled with chores, errands, to do lists and washing, but I do sneak in a couple of coffees, some social media catch-up and if you're lucky, a blog post or two! All in the peace and quiet of home with no-one else here! I could walk around naked if I wanted (but even I don't want to see that). But I totally could if I wanted to! Ahh, the serenity...except the dog randomly barking at things I can hear - that just scares the shit out me!
But there is a darker side to everything and so next post - the bad bits!
PS: the other good news is that the Peruvian flute band has been very absent this week, which is a good thing, because I've worked 10 days straight with the last three being 12 hour days - if I had to endure any more of that, I would have gone completely cray cray....