I am sitting on the porch, listening to the sound of the television for there will be no schooling today. The boy is home sick from school, which of course means that the girl can’t do anything either. She attempted to do some schoolwork, but then the draw of her brother watching TV and feeling sorry for himself became too much and she succumbed to the urge to join him. I don’t normally mind these kinds of distractions, but with her being sick most of last week and not getting a whole lot done, it is tough to take another half day today. Not that it won’t all get made up, because it does, but when I am in the thick of it and I feel like I am losing ground, these are the fears that keep me up at night. Did she learn enough this week? Was she challenged enough? Did we hang out with enough other kids? The litany of questions and worries that run through my mind at night, just as I am about to drift off, could easily make anyone crazy.
But this is the thing. I have been homeschooling her for four years – and we are almost half way through our fifth year. I have seen her test scores go from below grade level to High School level in every subject. I can listen to her talk to me, to anyone, and know that she is extremely bright and well balanced, and has learned everything I wanted her to and more. So why the worry? Because that is what homeschool parents do. I look at some of the stuff that my friends do, and believe me they put me to shame. We do more subjects in a week then would ever be possible in the public school system, simply because I only have one child to teach. On a weekly basis we cover American History, Virginia History, Math, Marine Biology, Reading Comprehension, Writing, Diagramming Sentences, Grammar, Penmanship, World Geography, US Geography, Critical Thinking, French, Maps/Charts, Piano, Spelling, Vocab, Capitalization & Punctuation, and we have an outside Gymnastic and Music Class. Some of these things we cover daily – like your math, science, history, etc., some we rotate through every other day (VA history today and Wednesday, American History tomorrow and Thursday, sort of thing), and others we only cover once a week – these are your capitalization, critical thinking, etc. And still, I lay awake at night wondering what else I should be doing. I have a friend who puts me to shame. The stuff she does with her kids makes me look like I do absolutely nothing. She is creative and disciplined, and is just an incredible human being. She also spends her nights worrying about what else she could be doing and constantly wondering if she is screwing her kids up. We all do it.
This is not limited to homeschool moms – for I have many friends who send their children to school and worry about what they are doing to mess up their kids’ lives as well. They worry that they aren’t learning enough at school or that they aren’t in the right clubs or sports, or that they don’t have enough educational stuff for them to be doing in the hours that they aren’t at school. I am the same way with my son. Putting him in school this year was a really tough decision as you have to wonder if you are making the right choice, and that you won’t mess them up any more than you already have. I made sure he had tough classes, made sure he was in the top groups, made sure he was in their gifted program, and then started focusing on the sports. After doing football, he is now doing wrestling. But wait, let’s not forget that he wants to do Robotics – we have to make sure that this gets in there as well. How will these things look on the college application? Will he be exposed to enough stuff that he will be competitive enough when it comes time to apply? What can we do on the weekends to further the education that he is getting at school this year? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Because it is. The fact of the matter is that whether our children are in school or at home we are, as a rule, worried that we are not doing enough to get them into the right college (whatever that is) and set up for a future that will enable them to be blissfully happy while making tons of money. Ha!
I went to school. The stress to get into a great college was not something I worried about. I was in the Honors classes, but I sort of fell into them. Not that my parents were not involved in my schooling – for they were – checking grades, helping me with homework when I needed it, quizzing me for tests, etc. But the stress that is there now to ensure these opportunities for our children just was not there, or at least I never felt it and I am pretty sure my friends didn’t either. I remember wanting to get a good score on the SATs, but as far as college went that was about as stressful as it gets. I worried about my grades, they were super important to me – and I wanted to make sure that I did well in school. However, it just doesn’t seem like the stress that our children are under today to perform was there back then. The goal was college – in fact, for me, the goal was Med School, a goal my daughter now shares. I am doing all the things she wants in terms of learning anatomy, doing medical camps, etc. – all the things that will expose her to her chosen field of neurosurgery. But I also want her to know that at some point she may change her mind, and that is ok too. That was a hard thing for me to get over, that when I decided I no longer wanted to be a doctor that the world would not fall apart. Of course, it also meant floundering for a while and wondering what I would be since that is all I had wanted to be for as long as I could remember, but eventually I got over it.
I want what everyone wants for their children – to be happy and to know that they are loved. Will getting into the right college and getting the right degree do that for them? Who knows? They will probably end up happy no matter what college they go to and what they decide to do in life. And they will definitely know that they are loved. That, and only that, is something I can guarantee.
Well, all of this talking about school has made me nervous yet again; gotta go get the girl doing something….