Last week I announced on my instagram feed that the kids were going back to school. That we had tried homeschooling, and had decided it wasn't right for us.
Oh, but my heart is torn about this decision. For many reasons. Some I don't know I can share here. Some....
Firstly. I want to share with you why homeschooling didn't "work" for us. You might be thinking we only gave it a short trial, and yes, that's so true. But I think we threw ourselves into it as quickly as I throw us into other things. Of course, I'm the one doing the throwing / pushing / pulling, and they all come along with me.
I wanted homeschooling to be us. I wanted us to be homeschooling. But in reality, the situation that we are currently living in ~ one tiny house, with no space for study, or creativity, or spreading out of books, reading, drawing, making, doing. No space to be away from each other. No space to choose to be together. No space to be organised and planned. Only space to feel on top of each other constantly. Not really very good to suddenly throw us into 24hours on top of each other. Suddenly it felt like the school hours were 7 hours of baby-sitting we were missing out on, 7 hours (that includes bus travel time, etc) of peace and quiet that we were missing.
And sometimes I realised it also included 7 hours of doing something separate to each other. I stopped asking the kids what they'd done during the day. Because I'd been there with them the whole time, I neither needed to ask, nor wanted to hear their voices whining at me again. And maybe perhaps they didn't want to go over school work with me again, either.
Sam and I lost time to be alone together. To talk with no-one interrupting, or over-hearing, or wanting to be part of it all. No time to just sit and enjoy being with each other; a quiet coffee in the sun (once the kids have gone off to school) with your partner is surely an important thing in any relationship.
I did barely any - actually maybe none - crochet or screen printing or sewing or anything once the kids started schooling at home. Everything creative I did involved them, and had them at my side. And oh yes, that's what I wanted. It is what I DO want. But I also wanted just snippets of myself. My head my thoughts. Small snippets that I never got.
I think, really, the biggest thing was that our little skateboard jewellery making business got a little bit busier. YAH to that!! And I needed to spend time working on all that was needed for that. And that meant taking time away from schooling and the children. And whenever I wasn't there at their side doing work, preparing work, pushing and enticing work to happen it just didn't. The kids thought they were on holiday if I wasn't teacher at the school desk.
I guess it's unfair of me to have expected them to be any different. But I think that I expected they would "self learn" a lot more than they did. I think they were maybe too used to school where the teacher walks them through everything. I wanted them to grab their passions and interests and run away with it, and me be there to offer thoughts and advice and encouragement and assistance, and drive them to the library or show them how to make papier mache. Oh. How naive was I!!
Having said that; some school days were excellent. They made me the happiest mama in the world. To sit with my two babies and see them soaking up the learning. To talk with them about things that interested them, and help them discover more. To hear them sharing and learning and teaching each other. For them to be side-by-side learning were some of the happiest moments.
and therein lies my heart ache. For though I know we can continue much at home, now that they are going back to school, I also know that after-school, weekends and holidays are brief, and that mostly they want to play and explore and 'not do school work'. We will always, as a family, be learners and explorers and teachers in our home (that is something I cannot give up), but I know that with them at school it is in a limited capacity, and that sometimes I am battling against the norm of a public schooling education with my thoughts and ideas to stretch their little minds further and bigger and deeper. Sometimes they feel locked into a system that they don't want to break out of. The ease of cut and paste from a google page, instead of exploring the library or art gallery or museum for the answer. Of saying that their school teacher says their work is good enough, and they're happy with good enough.....
Oh the sadness of a mama who knows her children have more potential than they will receive at school.
I want it to be known that the school they go to, the local public school, is beautiful and supportive and loving, and has a solid foundation of honest and real values. I just feel that the education system in general lets education and learning down. Every week it seems I hear a teacher, or ex-teacher, talking about the stupid paperwork rather than actual teaching they have to do. And having 20-something other kids in a classroom isn't always the best learning environment. But then, maybe sometimes it is. Children are strong and resilient and perhaps we can give them enough (more than enough!) at home to counter what they will miss.
This for me is an on-going thought / feeling. I hope that with them and me together we can make learning endlessly happen in our family, in a happy contented joyful manner. Perhaps this can be the best of both options - the 7 hours of space that we all needed (them and us), and then the other time of sharing and learning and evolving and growing and expanding.
The one thing I do know about schooling of our children, is that there is rarely a "right" answer, and sometimes that right answer changes weekly. As parents we are always weighing the options of right and best against mediocre. I guess a school who openly cares and supports and knows my children is a wonderful thing indeed and that I should embrace.