Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Homeschool "learning experience"

You know those times when you can completely predict how something is going to go down?  You see the path and know that there is no way that you can change the direction.  Yes.  That's what homeschooling was for me.  Maybe that is why Sierra's last day at school in December was so hard.  I even told friends back then that I anticipated how homeschooling would go for us.  I would have these grand plans in my head that wouldn't come to fruition and then I would be frustrated.  I had intended to do science experiments outside, create unique art projects,  listen to NPR pod casts and have good discussions about them, pick a country to explore and immerse ourselves in, learn and teach all things photography and cooking, give Sierra the opportunity to read aloud to Cadence and Laurel's classes.  Gosh, that sounds like such an AMAZING homeschool experience, don't you think?!  I was gonna rock this thing!  Or rather, I was going to think a lot about rocking this thing, not follow through on most of it, and then feel like a huge failure.  Yep.  That's how it went down.

I do realize that it's not that black and white.  Very shortly after our homeschooling adventure started Sierra missed her friends.  There aren't many kids her age who live close by and can just pop on over to say hello and she doesn't have a phone to text.  Our plans for her to start back at karate were put on hold when I went to Africa in February and, despite my efforts, it was challenging to find tween aged homeschoolers to connect with.  Sierra missed being around people her own age.  Homeschooling quickly lost it's appeal and by February she wanted to go back to school.  But, we had committed to try for the remainder of the year so we forged ahead. 

Unfortunately, as with most disgruntled pre-teens, it was difficult to pull enthusiasm from her.  Most of my suggestions (for those rockin' homeschool plans) were met with complaints, moans, and groans.  Sierra fell asleep as we listened to NPR pod casts.  She balked at reading aloud to her sisters' classes.  She definitely did not want to learn about any countries that I brought up.  It was frustrating for both of us.  So much that, in one particular "mom of the year" moment, I actually said that I was going to homeschool both her and her sister next year - as a threat!  Yes, it was that good.  Additionally, having Laurel in school made things even more difficult.  On a few occasions we had a bit of a groove going and then - BAM - snow day (or 5 or 6).  Of course Sierra wasn't going to do school work while Laurel was home playing.  For some reason it was so hard to pick up where we left off when Laurel went back to school.  I did learn something new about myself too.  I suck at structure.  Like, majorly suck!  And Sierra craved structure to her days and weeks.  Not a good match.

It hasn't been completely horrible.  Sierra took a fabulous art class that she really enjoyed. We've been able to do a few baking/cooking projects that she wanted to do. She has enjoyed less work focused days when she was able to hang out with friends.  It was some of these times with her friends that sort of clinched it for me.  Watching her smile, laugh, and brighten up when her friends were around made me realize the impact that social interaction has on her.  It made me realize that despite all of the things that I worry about socially in middle school (we've all been there, you know what I mean!) there are things that I cannot give her at home.  I think part of me hoped that by homeschooling her I could protect her a little longer from all of the drama that I loathe to think about my girls going through.  Give her a chance to grow into her own person a little more before exposing her to what everyone else thinks she should be.  But, it might do her more harm than good as well as the fact that neither of us is enjoying the process at all.  As a very wise friend said to me today, I need to have faith.  I need to have faith in Sierra. Faith that despite cutbacks at the school she will learn and grow and thrive.  Faith that, with our support and love, she will make the right choices and find her own way and her own happiness.  Faith that even when my kids are out of my reach, that they will be okay. 

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