Last fall, we did something totally unexpected…we sent the boys to school.
This was a little difficult – especially for me (read here to see what a severe understatement that is:)). To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to pan out.
Well, school is officially out here in Alabama and I can say, we’ve reached the other side. We survived. And if I’m being really honest (which I always try to be), I have to admit as usual, everything happens for a reason and there was much to be gained from this year.
Here’s a few things that a year in public school has taught us…
God is still in Charge
When we sent the boys last fall, the goal was for me to find work. We quickly saw the idea of me working outside of the home full-time was totally unrealistic with a toddler at home. We can now officially say “we tried everything” for whatever it’s worth. I job hunted with no avail but was able to find some freelance writing for a few months that helped us over a hump. At the same time, my husband was blessed with some good things at work and the mess we were in in July that caused our decision had almost entirely disappeared by December. We started the new year in the black and have been on track ever since – praise God. He showed us He would provide for us and we got to learn some other lessons like…
How to wake up really early
We leave for school at 7 a.m. As painful as this was, it did help us to be more productive!
How to roll with the punches
When we committed to this for the year, there was no backing out. That meant making lemonade with lemons and all sorts of other adages. Bottom line, even on the worst days, we had to suck it up and move forward. We did homework, we worked through meltdowns and anxiety attacks, we balanced school days with sports in the afternoons, and we had fun days in school even after the drop off was spent in tears. One point for tenacity.
And we also…
Met some wonderful people
The boys’ principal could not be more amazing. I couldn’t have picked a better aide if I had to myself.
The teachers were fabulous and the boys made friends – ones who we will see this summer. The type of kids I want my kids to be around and who have parents that I get along with. The school is a top choice in our area and we definitely got the best out of what we originally thought was a worst case scenario.
Got to see the boys in action with their peers
This is not necessarily an important one, but it was helpful to my husband who used to be a homeschool skeptic to see how strong the boys were academically going in. We got to watch school plays and award ceremonies and see how they fit in a crowd. We got to see our youngest son be the social butterfly that he is, greeting every teacher by name in the hall.
Got to do all the fun elementary school stuff
We wrote Valentines cards. The boys took field trips on a bus. We packed lunches and I wrote love notes for them to find at their mid-day. They had class parties and did show and tell. These are things that I struggled with as a homeschooler; the sentimental side of me wanted them to have these memories and now I can check it off our bucket list.
And on a more personal note…
I learned my boys’ limits might be higher than I thought
They were stretched beyond my expectations for them at home. Their work load in terms of quantity was much higher than what they were used to at home. In my humble opinion I’m not sure it makes them more successful students because they can endure countless worksheets but it did show me that they’re ready for bigger challenges.
I got to spend some quality time with the Misses
Time flies. Every mom will tell you that. I would argue though, it goes no faster than the first year of a baby’s life. Although it was hard to have the boys gone, this year really gave me time to connect with Little Miss and I am happy to have had that time.
I got to consider my own goals
After I dropped the boys off at school, I had time to consider my goals as a writer for possibly the first time since graduating college. I realized I wasn’t as crazy about freelance writing as I thought and decided to pursue a book idea I’ve been stewing over for a while (more to come on that as I get closer to finishing it!) I was able to focus on this blog and pursue my goals for it, as well. Basically, I was able to define what it really means when I tell people “I’m a writer.”
We got to compare apples to apples
We can now say we’ve done both – homeschool and brick-and-mortar school. We can now look at things from both sides when making future decisions and not just formulate what we think – we know what our kids’ lives will look like educationally on both sides of the fence, more or less.
So what does next year hold?
After much prayer and numerous discussions, my husband and I have decided to keep our oldest home next year and send the other two boys back. We will be focusing on The Son-Rise Program with him and at the end of the day we still didn’t feel like a school was the best environment for a child with autism.
Homeschool is obviously still in our hearts – if I’m showing all my cards (and I will) – I’ll tell you we do plan to have everyone back home eventually. When that will happen I’m not yet sure. At this point, the plan is just to take it year by year.