So, school just started around here, and I know you’re all dying to know what we’re doing.
(You’re not. I know. No one cares about this. But I’m going to tell you anyways.)
First, some history…
So last year, Emmy was 3, and we enrolled her in our church preschool. The summer before school started, I started to feel like I should really be homeschooling. So, we let the preschool know long before school started that we wouldn’t be attending that fall, and I felt so proud of my homeschooling decision. (You can read all about it here.)
All my reasons for homeschooling were totally valid. 100% true. But I should have added a few other reasons to the list, like “All My Blogging Friends Are Doing It”, and “Since I Can’t Have Any More Kids, Maybe This Will Validate My Motherhood”, and “Look! Curriculum! I Want To Buy ALL THE BOOKS!!”
Those reasons were not so valid.
And so, when we got two weeks into homeschooling and realized that maybe we hadn’t thought this through very well, and faced the fact that there was a very real possibility that Emily and I might kill each other halfway through the year, we changed our minds really quickly and got that kid into preschool as fast as we could.
We sent Emmy two half-days a week last year to the little private school on our street corner. It was good for her and for me, and even for Nathan, who got some one-on-one time with Mommy. And so, continuing in the school path, I enrolled her in preschool again this year.
(Actually, I stood in line at 6am to enroll her in the preschool we were hoping to get into this year. I was THAT MOM. I have no excuse.)
So in May, our school-year ended and Emmy came home full-time for the summer, as kids do. But something had changed. She’d grown up since the last year. We weren’t butting heads all the time. She listened better. I was less uptight. We got along so very well, and had a wonderful summer together. And as I anticipated sending her to preschool this year for three days a week, I just felt uneasy.
I still really wanted to homeschool. But after last year’s disaster, I honestly wasn’t sure that I was cut out for it. (Patience is not my strength, friends. And Emily talks 100% of the time she is awake. So you understand.) But I couldn’t shake the idea of homeschooling, and I knew, deep down, that avoidance was part of the reason why I sent her to school last year. She was difficult and I was exhausted and I just needed someone else to help a couple of times a week before I destroyed our relationship.
I played out every scenario in my head. I talked about it with Jon no less than a million and two times. I prayed about it daily.
And, in faith, I ended up withdrawing Emily from preschool before it even began, just like last year. And we started the year homeschooling, just like last year.
I’m pretty sure that this year we won’t end up sending her back to preschool, but one can never be totally sure about these things.
So far, it’s going really well. It helps so much that Emmy can already read, and that Nathan is older. And I’m treasuring this time I have with both of my kids here at home. I know it goes fast, and I want to have fun with them. I want to spend our days together, even when they are hard. I want to have the freedom to pick up and go to the zoo, or the park, or even to have a silly pajama & movie day. And most important, I really feel like this is what God has led us to for this year.
But I have to tell you, I’m not sure I can do it. I’m still not really a patient person. And do you know how ridiculous I feel? For goodness sake, I enrolled Emmy in preschool TWICE and took her out TWICE. There’s only so many more preschools to go to before everyone knows me as the crazy mom who can’t make up her mind.
My decision this year and my decision last year are very different. Last year, I felt a lot of pressure to be a better mom. And I looked around at some of my friends online, or other bloggers I respected, and I saw them blogging AND homeschooling AND serving home cooked meals every night AND having handfuls of kids AND keeping a clean house, and so I tried to be like them. Honestly, that was a huge part of the homeschooling decision for me last year, though I didn’t really recognize it at the time. It was all based in comparison, so it’s no surprise that it crashed and burned.
This year, my approach is so different. Now, I’m less concerned with what other people are doing, and more concerned with what is right for our family. Actually, most of my real-life friends around here put their kids in school, so it feels very out-of-place to be homeschooling. I felt all summer like I wanted to homeschool, but everyone puts their kids in school here and they are fine, so why can’t I just do that?! But God has been slowly showing me that this is what OUR family needs for this year. And I want to follow Him.
My hope this year is not to get Emmy ahead academically, or to stick to a rigorous curriculum. We are going through Sonlight’s P4/5 curriculum, but I’m not sticking too closely to the schedule. We are doing a lot of playing outside, a lot of doing fun family things, and a lot of cooking. (Lest you be appalled by my lack of concern for her academics, know that Em can read most anything you put in front of her. And she’s adding and writing and all that jazz. She’s more than prepared for kindergarten, which is still a year away. Shout out to Super Why and Sesame Street, thank you very much.)
Honestly, my hope this year is to win my daughter’s heart. I struggle to find a balance of discipline and fun with my strong-willed, talkative, energetic girl. I love her so, but much of what comes out of my mouth is corrective. I need this year. I need the Lord to keep teaching me what it means to disciple my daughter. I need to invest my time – both quality and quantity – in her. And I need to have fun with her. More than anything else, I believe that this is the crucial reason for homeschooling this year.
It’s not for everyone. And it wasn’t even for us last year. But this is what’s right for our family right now, in this season.
I was going to wait to share this, because really, my inability to stick with a decision is not something I want plastered all over the interwebs. But I thought that maybe some of you are flip-flopping on a decision right now. Maybe you’re feeling pressure from friends or family, and you don’t feel like you really have the freedom to make the choice that’s right for you. Maybe you don’t even know what the right choice is.
You’re the person I want to encourage today. Know that God will lead you to the right path, so stop and listen to Him instead of all of the other voices. Know that it’s okay to change your mind a zillion times along the way. You’re loved no matter what.
I mentioned that this is what’s right for our family in this season, and that’s exactly it. I have no idea what next year will hold. We will take each year as it comes. The same is true for you. Live fully in the season you’re in, and be confident in the things God is leading you to right now. They will change as your season changes, and that’s okay too.
And along the way, if you need to talk to an expert on changing your mind or talking things to death, you know where to find me.
P.S. Today is my hubby’s BIRTHDAY!!!! We are doing all sorts of fun things, like making meatloaf for dinner. Party at the Pratts! So anyway, if you see Jon today, wish him a happy birthday.
P.P.S. If you’re on Periscope, find me on there (I’m @kaysepratt) and join me at 8am PST/11am EST for a tour of our homeschool room! (If you don’t have periscope yet, it’s a free app on your phone where you can video live & viewers can interact & stuff. Videos stay up for 24 hours and then disappear. Fun!) The kids will be with me so it will be loud, to be sure. And it will be my first periscope ever, so I’m also sure there will be bloopers. But it’ll be fun! Join us!
Kayse is a wife, mom, and founder of the Anchored Women community. She writes to help women fight busy, find rest, and build a life that’s anchored in Christ. Kayse is also the creator of the S.O.S. Planner, the Anchored Life Kit, and other practical resources that equip women to manage their homes and families in confidence. You can find her writing and her resources at anchored-women.com!