But- it has to come out at some point, so here it goes:
My eldest son attends school outside of our home.
It all started a few weeks ago....
We were in the car going to the grocery store. My middle son, Harrison, said, "Mom? I think I wanna go to school."
Although this is not exactly how the conversation happened, this is how I can best sum it up:
While we shopped I thought hard about what Harrison said. We discussed reasons for why he might want to go to school, and I listened carefully.
I talked to my husband that night and we agreed that it would be a good idea for us to check out the local schools. We talked for something like five hours. It was a late night, but worth it. We discussed a lot: our own immediate reactions, our first thoughts, the best timing for the kids, the various pros and cons, the changes in our lives, etc. After those five hours, we agreed it was best to look into the schools before we thought or discussed further.
(Even though I am the one who did the homeschooling,
Kurt was a very large part of the process!)
The next morning I visited two local schools (and by local, I mean both within 3 blocks). Both schools were excellent, but I felt one of the schools would be a better "fit" if Harrison did indeed end up going to school. There was a lot that went into that decision, but I will spare you. I went home and discussed my take-aways with my husband, and we talked a few hours, and then decided the next step was to show Harrison the school.
My husband went to work, and I took the children to the school for a tour. Harrison bounced from room to room, excited by the happy faces, bright colors, and all of the neat things he saw. Carter walked more slowly. He wandered the rooms, hands tucked in his jacket pockets, analyzing things without saying much. The kids toured the music room, gym, lunchroom, 1st/2nd grade room, 1st grade room (the classes are combined, but 1st and 2nd graders are separate in the mornings), and offices. The principal of the school was wonderful, and answered Harrison's questions and told him what to expect if he decided to attend school.
At the end of the tour, Harrison told her he wanted to come. She said she would talk to the teachers, staff, and Priests and get back with us. We were about to leave when Carter said, "Where is my class?"
I felt a little like this:
After years of Carter insisting he wanted to homeschool, Carter wanted to attend school.
I was floored.
The principal was shocked as well, but did not skip a beat. She showed him the 3rd/4th grade class, and introduced him to the teacher. She answered his only question, "When do we start?"
I filled out paperwork and picked up uniforms the next day.
They changed their minds about fifteen dozen times over the weekend.
The kids started a trial on Monday. The school was so wonderful, and very supportive. We all agreed a trial was best. We woke up, everyone had breakfast together, and the boys showered and dressed in their uniforms. The boys went to school. I picked them up at the end of the day and they both expressed how much they enjoyed it! Their reasons varied, but the outcome was the same: school was great!
The evening was a bit more difficult. The kids couldn't wrap their minds around the concept of homework. "I was at school all day, and now I have to do more schoolwork at home?!? WHY?!" Kurt and I assured them it was a normal part of school, and we helped them complete their assignments. That evening, Harrison came to us and said he changed his mind and wanted to continue homeschooling. Carter changed his mind a few times as well- but he flip flopped both ways. They both agreed to try another day.
The next day Harrison told everyone he would not be attending any longer. He said his goodbyes. Carter asked to continue attending school.
It has been a few weeks, and Harrison is here (to my right, practicing the piano) and Carter is at school. It has been a difficult adjustment for everyone- from our patriarch to our toddler- not a single one of us goes untouched by this change. However, the fact that there are only six more weeks until the "end of the school year" made this a much easier decision! I am very thankful this came up when it did so they could get a taste of school without any large commitments. During this time both boys have had daily discussions about what they felt were the best parts of their day.
Both seem to be settling into the fact that homeschool seems a great "fit" for Harrison...
I do not know what we will be doing this fall, but I know we will continue to homeschool during the summer, and Carter will be included in the lessons. Beyond summer will take more thought and discussion, and we will continue to allow the kids to offer their thoughts and input.
I feel the need to express: We believe that homeschooling is an excellent academic opportunity. We also believe this particular school offers an excellent academic opportunity. There are positives and negatives with both options, so for our family, in this situation, at this time, we allowed the children a large "say" in the process. If we believed there was a "best" decision, my husband and I would make the decision- but as we see it, there are two wonderful academic opportunities, and we allowed the children to individually choose the one they felt was right for them. We are so fortunate not to have to choose a "lesser of two evils" but instead have a "best of two greats!"
Carter was welcomed in the school newsletter!
Carter walks to school. The school is just around the corner and a block down. Loves the walk!
Carter and Harrison play on the school playground (yes, that is a castle- it even has a bridge!) after school.
Carter attended school for just over a month, and then came to us and told us that he wanted to return home full time. We talked with him about it for a few days, while he continued going to school, and then ultimately brought him home. In his words, "Mom, your school is a lot harder... but going to school took a REALLY long time..."
We are thankful for a supportive school and community, where the kids felt safe to make their own decisions. Thankful for great educational options!