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Taking the Plunge

As a mom, I wear many hats. I have a funky purple hat with sparkles for “Writer”. There is a tan angler’s hat with gear hanging off it for “Photographer”. You cannot forget the tall white “Chef” hat. I have a lacey, black “Maid” hat hiding somewhere. The list goes on and on, my closet shelves are quite full of hats.

These days’ mothers are filling more and more roles. We are busier and busier and time is valuable. How do we mothers fit everything into our hectic and crazy lives? Honestly, most days it seems we might not.

My husband and I had once planned on home schooling our children. That is an extremely large job to take on. In the pre-school years, I did home school my children instead of enrolling them into an expensive daycare. They knew what they would “learn” already and I did not see the need to pay for play dates.

My oldest son, Caramon, has an October birthday, making him miss the Kindergarten cut off by a mere 20 days. My darling boy, however, was capable of attending and keeping up. It worked out for the best that he did not attend because that year he fought cancer, spending many days in the local pediatric hospital.

While sick, Caramon wanted most to ride a school bus and go to school. He wanted to play with other children, eat lunch in the cafeteria, and forget about the hospital. Mostly, he wanted to ride on a school bus. How could I deny my sick child? That was our deciding factor and I enrolled him into Kindergarten.

I immediately became involved in the school PTO. If I was not going to teach my children at home, then I was going to find another way to be involved in their education. School did not end with a bus ride home however. I continued with my own lessons, giving my child challenging work.

At the end of the first grading period, Caramon report card showed he already knew what the school expected him to learn that year. Thankfully, we had a wonderful school with great teachers who did not mind giving him work that was more challenging.
The following fall, my youngest turned five. His birthday was a mere three days before the cut off. Some would hold their child back, but I did not. I knew, like Caramon, Joram would do well and thrive. We were right; the two shared similar experiences.

At the end of the school year, we moved from Ohio to VA. A year of chaos living with my mother and another year of public school ensued. The difference in this school? This school would not let me volunteer. They did not want me in the classroom. I cannot begin to describe my displeasure at finding myself forcibly shut out of the educational day of my children. It did not feel right. I did my best to find ways to continue our “after-schooling” but found it hard in the cramped confines of my mother’s home.

I tried to solve the problem by running for the PTA board. I found the PTA of this school even worse than the school administration. This ended up exploding into a fiery ball of psychotic “I-am-still-not-sure-what-happened” sort of thing.

This school does nothing to help my children stay ahead. Each year I get the same story at the start of the year. “Your child is already able to do most, if not all, of this year’s work.” With third grade came a new challenge last year. SOL testing. The entire year centered around this one test. His teacher, having to cram in SOL knowledge, was not able to fit in anything extra. There was no actual reading program. At the end of third grade, Caramon’s report card stated he read on a third grade reading level. At the end of the year before he read on a 6th. I know his teacher never tested reading in third grade. Why bother? It is not on the SOL.

Now that PTA has gone up in a puff of smoke, I will once more find myself barred from the school. My children are not getting an education on a level at which will challenge them. They are both learning, instead, that they can just loaf through the year.

I have come to consider public school little more than “free babysitting”. I used to think at least there were social benefits, but that seems nonexistent these days as well. When your attempt to educate your children after school becomes a second school, you have to ask yourself what is fair to the child. They are children; they deserve to play!

When we first enrolled Caramon, my husband and I planned to keep the home school option open. We only felt comfortable giving Caramon his desire because of my ability, as a stay-home mother, to involve myself at the school. We no longer feel this is an option.

It was not our plan at the start of the summer, but we have found great peace the last few weeks of summer. We know that this is what the Lord wants of us. I find myself working hard to undo a lot of what public school has done to my children, and I hate that. Spending the time with the children, however, is the most rewarding experience.

I am taking the plunge. I am once more joining the ranks of full time home-schooling mother. I know not everyone can understand, and that is OK. Call me crazy, I know I must be! I also know that the school system is crazy for trying to make everyone fit into a mold they call “average”. If you are below average, they will do anything in order to prove you are defective so that they can discount your test scores. If you are above average, they do nothing, except toast their good luck to have someone swing the test scores for the better.

So now, which hat says “Homeschooler” the best? Is it the new fuzzy purple hat? What about my bright red hat? Only time will tell, meanwhile, I need to get back to teaching my children!