Monday, February 28, 2011

Homeschool vs. Private School, Part 1

I've gotten bored with the decorating projects. I've decided to just wait until we move (12DAYS!!) and then reveal all the projects in person. So much more interesting that way! So on to a new topic, our schooling decision.

Background information on why we are debating:
This question has been at the forefront of my prayers for the last few months. Although this past year or so was a wonderful year with my children (and husband), it has been a difficult one for me personally. Although rich and redeeming, this year has been full of trials. And to be completely honest, I have questioned my ability to homeschool once we move. I have been trying to step back and take an honest look at why I have been so overwhelmed. And I have been asking the Lord to reveal what He wants me to do. Because there is a difference between discerning His calling and persevering in faith vs. stubbornly digging my heels in and missing His leading. Here is why I have struggled, and then our conclusion for the kids' educational future.

I have been a parent for over 10 years. So far in that journey, my family has lived in a different state than the rest of our family. (Both sets of our parents, both brothers and their wives along with our nieces and nephews, and even all of our aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in the same area.) The distance, along with various health issues and work schedules of our extended family, has lead to very few breaks from taking care of our little ones. Don't get me wrong, our children have grandparents, aunts, and uncles who love them dearly and who would/have kept them when we need help. But usually we go long stretches of time before asking for that help. I only point this out because SO many homeschooling families I know have situations where their children are regularly spending an afternoon or night with family members. I know that support significantly has an impact on their stamina.

Another thing that has been a negative factor for us this past year is that we do not have neighbors to play with. This means that whenever the kids play with friends, I (or another Mom) has to orchestrate a play date or outing. It sounds like such a little thing, but it is completely different than just the natural influx of neighbors right here in our neighborhood. It means less time for me to work on things while the children play. It affects our schedule in a major way.

Also, my husband's work schedule has been such this past year that he has traveled as much as he has been at home. For me, that means a little less sleep and a lot more work. Most of his trips are for 5 days in a row. There was a 6 week stretch from September to mid-October when he was gone on the 5-day trips every week. It was a difficult way to begin the school year. I am not sure if I caught up on rest until after Christmas. And besides being exhausted, I became lonely and burned out. I was very spoiled last school year to use Tuesday evenings to venture out with friends or by myself. But this year not only did I miss that down time, I also missed almost every support group meeting due to solo-parenting. It took its toll and I found myself secretly miserable more often than I would like to remember.

Add these things to my other struggles: coming to grips with a big move, having to be a part of enrolling a family member into rehabilitation for alcoholism, and having a house on the market that needed to be clean and organized and shown to clients at the drop of a hat, and you get a feel for my daily life in 2010. It was a messy, faith-building, stretching, day-by-day challenge! And by December I felt like I NEVER WANTED TO HOMESCHOOL AGAIN! I was ready to delegate some responsibility and breathe a little. So we visited a school in the town nearby our farm. And we visited again and again. And we have prayed. A lot. And it has been a BIG decision. I think our mind is made up, but I will stop there and update soon...


Jennifer said...

Oh, Renee, we are struggling with making the same decision here! With a Christian private school available to my kids for free, it is a yearly drawn-out decision. I, too, struggle with no family help and feelings of isolation. And we do have kids in the neighborhood but they are so hyper-scheduled there is very little time for play. Too bad we don't live next door to each other.
Looking forward to hearing what decision you two have made. Hopefully, we can get to that decision state very soon... some days I think I will be undone with all the internal debating!
You said something years ago that I have been thinking about these days (because it describes me well) - it was something like, "I always assume the hardest things must be the best thing." It's hard to be wired like us, eh? : )

PEACE to you!

Abby Hutto said...

I can relate in SO many ways to the struggles you have faced over last year. I have often thought, "HOW, HOW, HOW does she homeschool with all that she has going on?".

I await to see what you have decided--but either way, I know you and Andy have walked obediently with the Lord and will continue to do so. You are very talented and have served your children well as their teacher. I also think that the reasons you have laid out for private school are all good and valid. Seems you can't go wrong with either decision! :)