Saturday, August 24, 2013

Week One

We are on the other side of the first week of school, Tim and I's first week of teaching in over a decade and the kids' first week of school ever! I am not going to lie or sugar coat it. It was rough. It is a huge adjustment for us all. The kids have been angry. They've been in tears, and so have I. One even passed out in class from what we can only assume was a combination of not eating enough and stress. We all are exhausted.

But we made it through the first week.

All the places in homeschooling that we were more relaxed on are glaring in my face as the kids struggle in their classes, and we work with them at night. It is easy as a homeschooler to spout the benefits of children working at their own pace, the importance of life skills over book knowledge, or the development of the child's interest and strengths. At my core I still know that all this is true, but it is hard to not feel like you've failed your kids when they are suddenly with a group of their peers and are "behind."

We will work through this.

The things I don't like about the system of education are also glaring in my face. At this small, private school, there isn't nearly as much red tape, hassle, and ridiculousness. The system I refer to is the classroom, age level, memorization, cookie cutter system, the do school for 7 hours and then do an hour or two of homework.  Kids don't learn at the same pace. It is so easy for them to feel like failures in this system, and so many character traits and life skills are hard to value in the academic system. Life is more than memorizing your multiplications tables! The system leaves little room for figuring it out yourself or critical thinking.

We will do our best to encourage and celebrate those things the system doesn't.

At the end of the week though, it isn't all bad news. The kids don't hate school. I count that as a win.

I am enjoying teaching. I'm pretty much flying by the seat of my pants. Often I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing. The school routines are new to me. Teaching an elementary group is new to me. Learning that with Vivian, who is "behind" and a little clingy, in my class is a challenge. A completely full day of students combined with full nights of helping my own kids leaves me with almost no preparation time for class. The kids are sweet. They are co-operative, and luckily I'm pretty good at winging it! The teachers around me are wonderfully helpful and supportive. The elementary building really works as a team, and that is a great experience.

Tim is also enjoying it. He is less stressed, and having fun with the different age levels he teaches. Our latest nights home from school are about the same time as his earliest nights home from Kerr's. Our nights have been filled with chores, dinner, homework, and getting ready for the next day, but it is nice to have the family all home working together.

It is refreshing to work in a Christian environment. I'll admit to some reservations there. The church is more conservative and traditional than we are, but it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it might. The atmosphere is loving, encouraging, and Christ focused. What a difference from other work places we've experienced.

At the bottom line, the two paychecks are nice. Granted any "extra" this month has been consumed by school uniforms and supplies, but it is so nice to see that wiggle room in our budget again. We are ready to attack that last looming debt monster of student loans that is still hanging over our heads.

It was a tough week. There will be more tough weeks until we are on the other side of the adjustment. Though there were times this week I had my doubts, I still feel like this is the right thing for us as a family. There is another family at the school who has been a great encouragement to us. He is Lydia's teacher. She teaches high school math. They were in our shoes three years ago. Their four had been homeschooled from day one. They struggled with the switch. They survived and thrived.  We will too.

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