Friday, September 20, 2013

A "New" Kind of First Day of School

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This year we had a very different type of “first day” of school. Trevor & Rylee ventured out into the big wide world of school outside the home for the first time!! EEK!! I cried like a baby with all the kindergarten moms! I cried all summer, I cried the first two weeks of school. Lots of tears. Not for them though... they were like "bye mom! See ya later! This is the best day of my life!!"

So, Tara did you not like homeschooling? Nope loved it. Made me a tad bit crazy but I’ve always teetered on the crazy side anyway. I loved having them home, loved seeing them learn, loved being the one to see light bulbs going off, loved watching them play together as siblings, loved learning alongside them, loved bringing God into all subjects. We joined a formal co-op called Classical Conversations last year that I thoroughly enjoyed. Taylor became "memory master" and the other two enjoyed their day at “school”. It made our year in many ways and I had every intention of continuing.

So why change? Well largely due to this school. In the state of AZ we are blessed with some pretty incredible charter school options and there is one that we’ve had our eyes on for a few years. It’s never been close enough to consider though. All that changed this year as they planned to open one a few miles from our house. We put the kids on the lottery list to see what would happen and somehow both Trev & Ry got in. All with no sibling preference. It’s a classical, hard-core academic, literature based charter school. It attracts awesome families and the kids that graduate from there are some of the brightest, well-rounded, respectable kids you will see in the state. Much like what I would say about homeschool families. It’s not for everyone. Not every kid can hang. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have made it a year through the academic rigor ;) But from what we knew it was worth giving it a try. Some friends of ours have tried for three years to get in and their child is still number one hundred and something on the wait list… so it’s not exactly a opportunity you pass up without some serious consideration. Chris felt strongly that we should give it a try. His thought process goes a little something like this. Love the philosophy behind school. Support the curriculum. We try it. It doesn't work they come back home. BAM! Done. Decision made. If only it was so simple for me...

But he was right and of all years to give it a try, this was a great year. All you have to do is follow me on instagram to see the terror my sweet little lex brings to my house on a almost daily basis. I keep trying to remind her she is the FOURTH child and to chill out and be a good little birth order girl and just sit on her mama’s lap contentedly. But no, she thinks it’s funny to remind me I'm not 20 anymore and give me a run for my money. Add in homeschooling three different grade levels and well… yeah, I almost didn’t make it through last year. Yesterday it was gum. She climbed onto the counter to get into my purse. Chewed a couple of pieces then spit it out into her hair. Nice and stuck. After a few ice cubes I just grabbed the scissors and said what’s a few strands in this head of hair? Today it was her climbing on the counter to get those said pair of scissors so she could try cutting her own hair. Add in giving up naps, transitioning to a toddler bed and I’d say heck ya lets give this school a try this year!

One month in and all I can say is wow. They are thriving. The fruit I am seeing is incredible, the excitement for learning, the love for the classic books, the Italian opera songs they are learning in music class and the spanish they are picking up in their spanish immersion class. There is not a day that goes by where I don't pick them up and they get in the car giddy, talking all over each other, trying to share what new thing they learned. I think I've been thanked somewhere in the hundreds for getting them into this school. I keep wanting to say, "Come on I wasn't THAT bad was I?" We are blessed to have Christian teachers for both kids. One was even homeschooled through a good portion of elementary school and reached out to me that first week of school knowing it would be an adjustment. She assured me that she would take good care and look out for my children when they were there! That was a gift from God. That day in particular was hard for me. Trevor’s teacher has e-mailed me saying how his behavior is “exemplary”, he is a strong leader in class, he is responsible and a bright light in her day! I resisted the urge to ask her if she had the right parent! Just kidding. Sort of. We went to an open house night and in Trevor's class there is a virtue board. Kids can write cards where they see certain virtues displayed in their classmates. I think of the 10-12 cards Trevor's name was on 8 of them. Needless to say the kid who put every effort in figuring out excuses why he couldn't do school that day is now up at 6am on a Saturday working on a science project adding in a extra sheet of research so he can get extra credit. Um, ok.

Taylor and I are thoroughly enjoying our time together at home. She was pushed to the wayside last year and asked to be “more challenged” this year. I added in pre-algebra, a formal Latin class, as well as a Brit/lit composition co-op class and I’m thinking she won’t asked to be challenged again ;) No our times are sweet together. She is my motivated, self-learner and though she desires to give this school a try, the wait list has said otherwise. I'm grateful to have her home!

Maybe one day I will attempt to write and share something to the effect of “how to rid yourself of guilt when putting your kids in school” or “how to make it through another identity crisis”. This whole decision really shook me. Left me wondering how much of the gospel is really functioning in my life. I’m grateful for the shaking and grateful for the friends, who still homeschool, that stood by me through it all, speaking the truth to me.

Homeschooling doesn’t save our kids. Christ's death on the cross saves our kids. Homeschooling doesn't make me or my kids righteous. Christ's righteousness imputed to us makes us righteous. I still want my kids to see Jesus above all else! It’s just that this year we think that Trev & Ry will better see Jesus by attending this school. Someone asked me today… but do you feel like you never see them? It’s valid. I was concerned about that myself. But honestly with every Wednesday being a half day and practically 2-3 Fridays a month they get out at noon, lunch at home, I feel like I see them more. When they are home they get ALL of mommy. Not tired or going crazy mom. We spend more focused times together then before. I cherish each moment with them!! Our devotions together are still consistent and now we have the opportunity to be praying for new people that they are coming into contact with!

I know that this is not the normal school and that our experience in it may not even be normal, but I am so incredibly grateful for God’s goodness to us in it this year. That’s our year. One year at a time, one kid at a time. However God leads.

Hallelujah for uniforms. Love it, love them.

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