For those of you who haven’t heard it yet via the grapevine, or Twitter (which is the grapevine), I have news: We are homeschooling next year. And we might be homeschooling for a year or two, or three, though at this time, we are hoping to put the girls back in the school we have come to love, once it’s within our economic means to do so again.
The bottom line this year, is that we just can’t afford tuition.
I admit that there is that perverse part of me that enjoys being the wrench in assumed binaries like pro- versus anti-homeschooling. You and I both know there are strong feelings and opinions at the far ends of those supposed poles. But in our case, an initial plan to homeschool was changed when we found a school we really loved and could afford. Now we can’t afford it and have jumped onto the homeschooling track again.
I have always held that all good parents homeschool, they just think of it more or less as homeschooling, per se, depending on their position between those assumed opposite poles. So we’ve been homeschooling all along, and now we are stepping up the “school-like” nature of home to transition the girls to leaving school for awhile.
It’s funny, really. One of the things I like best about their school (which is an intensive Montessori, preK-8th-grade, private school), is that it seemed, as I put it only days before I realized we would be coming back home “like homeschooling off-site.”
Maria Montessori set up her initial school–which was in fact a residential facility for needy children–as a “children’s house” and much of the Montessori “work” in classrooms is based on life skills and the work of running a home. In the girls’ school, for example, there are not only table-washing, and buttoning “works” in the preschool classroom, but a full working kitchen (sans dishwasher, because doing it by hand is part of the lesson!) in the upper elementary (4th-6th grades) classroom where children frequently make meals for themselves and/or the school faculty and staff.
So home fits a Montessori style and/or a Montessori style fits home. And since we do hope to send the girls back to school, we won’t be quite “unschooling” as we had initially planned, because I want to keep the Montessori vocabulary and work style familiar to the girls. I have set up a new bookshelf with shelves labeled for each of the girls and some labeled “share” and have already put some “works” there and the girls have been working at home quite happily when they are not at school. I plan to gradually step this up to a more formal level over the summer, week by week until we are doing about two hours of free-flow “work” in the mornings, then doing field trips, outside lessons and household work in the afternoons by autumn. I plan to change out the works available as needed, probably every week or two.
Of course, who knows what will actually happen. But given the good work the school has done in preserving the kids’ self-motivation to learn and produce work they are proud of, taking advantage of that for a homeschool year or two will be easy enough, as long as I keep a close watch on their interests and learning-style preferences.
One of the pros about coming home is that we will be able to do more activities. Both of the girls have really been enjoying ballet lessons (which sort of shocks me, as I had never planned to put them in ballet. It just sort of came up on a lark and now Nat, especially, really loves it). But that hour on Saturday morning, and two hours of church on Sunday have been all the kids could handle after 6 hours/5 days of school for Nat and 3 hours/5 days of school for Selina. School wipes them out completely. But Nat has been asking for a violin for a while (which gratifies me because I did always plan to put her in Suzuki music lessons) and now we can A) afford it and B) have time for it without exhausting her. We will also probably do either swim lessons or some introductory martial arts or perhaps both, depending on how things go.
So, after fretting about finding a better job, with super-flexible hours so I could continue to solo parent in the coming academic year during the weekdays when Cole is out of town at work, I am now off the market. Suffice it to say, I have a job. And we have reduced financial pressure, so I can breathe easier about that job paying $0. The girls will undoubtedly miss school, because they love it to death. But they love home too, and we will hold onto the friends we’ve made at school for play dates and summer camps and whatnot while finding a bit of flexibility in the business of making some new friends in new venues.
And that is our biggest news of late. Now you know!