I LOVE homeschooling!! I enjoy having my children home during the day. I enjoy watching them progress academically, I enjoy reading to them and watching them do science experiments. I like seeing them play together and help each other and I love to see them learn and grow in all different aspects. I love the flexibility that homeschooling has given us. We can take it easy when we're sick, go longer when we don't want to stop and we can move at our own pace- fast or slow. The kids have all done extremely well this past year. They continue to work through their math, greek and latin books, as well as reading many other books for fun and for learning history and other things. We are settled again and have just been following our regular routine, and everybody has been moving right along in all areas. I have loved it!!
The downside-- we have found few homeschoolers- especially families with older kids wanting to focus on academics. The majority of our homeschooling friends either just have younger kids, send their older kids to public or charter school, or their focus is on US History and the US Constitution and Religion, and thus have no time or interest to do other things like science olympiad or 4-H. The other problem is that here in Utah being still a bit of Wild West, there are no cheap community classes or rec. centers. Extra classes are pricey and the kids in them usually live far away from each other, so it hasn't been a great way for the kids to make friends. The city recreation programs have been great, but each sport is only offered once a year and if there is a conflict with the time- there is no alternative league to join. The kids have made quite a few friends at church and in the neighborhood which here in Utah is practically the same thing. They have enjoyed being just down the street from the church and able to walk to so many friends houses. The girls have also participated in Janeen Brady's Children's Choir which was a fabulous experience, but too far away for them to be able to meet up with friends from there outside of choir. So most of the kids' friends go to the local public school-- they ride the bus and we can see the bus stop right out of our back windows at the little park. This has led my kids to feel extremely curious about what school may be like. None of them have ever gone to school, so they have no idea how good they have it. They also have no idea what school is like or how they would fit in or not fit in.
My oldest child who is a 13 yog was especially curious and so much so that it seemed to be holding her back from doing things because she just acted so unsure-- like she didnt' know how or where she would fit into society or anywhere. We talked about it for awhile and while we were planning to have her go for the full year of 9th grade, our ward got split and she lost a bunch of her friends and got some other things happened, so it caused us to speed up that proposition to the second half of 8th grade. She was so happy when we told her that we had decided to send her to school, her younger siblings said they wished they could go too. So we decided to send #2, 6th grade girl, and #3, 4th grade boy. #2 and #4 would probably be just fine never entering a public school in their lives, but #1 and #3 are much more socially aware and curious-- and would really feel slighted if they were never allowed to go to school especially here where it is fairly safe and most the kids are Mormons also.
We also feel like it will be a valuable experience for all 3 of them to understand what public school is like and how most kids spend their school hours. It is actually part of their education to learn how people live and learn here in Utah. #1 already seems calmer and happier and more confident. The other kids' friends are really excited to have them come and be in school with them. I think it will be really good for all of them. #1 is right on grade level and maybe a little advanced because of Latin and all the music and reading she has been able to do over the years, so I think it will be good for her to see that she really is doing alright and that she is smart and not dumb or behind because of homeschooling. #2 is very far ahead because she is just academically minded-- she has been working through algebra 1 and Latin 1 and is just an amazing memorizer and reader. So I don't expect her to learn much at school except to gain an appreciation for what most people do for school. #3 is ahead in math and knows how to read, but he is a stubborn little soul who does not like to do anything he's not good at-- which would be spelling and language arts-- so I think the discipline will be good for him and I expect that his language arts skills will improve from going to the public school. We had him practice spelling his first and last name a few times. I'm sure there will be things that they love about public school and there will be things they will miss about our homeschool.
My greatest fear is that they'll love public school so much and learn so much more and better than they have here at home with me. Our homeschool can be extremely chaotic at times. The ideal situation would be that they go to school and have a decent experience, learn some discipline and see that they have been learning what they need to at home and decide that they love homeschooling too and want to come back and learn at their own pace again. We shall see!! We've always taken it one step at a time. Our goal as parents has always been to raise our kids to be happy, healthy, confident and independent individuals who are able to do whatever they choose in life with confidence and hope. So this step of spreading their wings a bit and going to school on their own without me or their father is actually kind of exciting for them.
I will miss them terribly, but I am excited and happy for them. It will be an adventure. They will still have to keep up with piano, math and Greek or Latin after school. And they will be home by 3 p.m. so I'll still see them a lot, but wow-- change is afoot.
I decided not to send the 2nd grader and kindergartner. They need to work on being nicer to each other and mature a little bit more. They still seem just too young to send off for 30 hours per week. I think this will also be an opportunity for them to become better friends and to be more responsible as the oldest children at home. This will also give me more time to spend with them and the almost 3 year old twins reading lots of books and singing and doing art like I did with the older kids. I'm sad and happy at the same time!!