Homeschooling seems to be a lot about freedom--mostly the freedom to throw off the constraints of traditional education and find one's own way. Everywhere I turn I can find voices encouraging me to think outside the box, get outside of 4 walls, work outside of a formal plan. I've listened and been blessed by such encouragement. Those voices kept me going through the early years of homeschooling when trying to do anything traditional or formal would have killed me and all of the kids.
But suddenly (or perhaps it has been slowly) we're all ready for a more traditional/formal approach. My oldest asked me to put together "a high school plan like what my friends are doing in public school." My next 3 have absolutely refused to do any more math with Life of Fred or Khan Academy or online games or Mathematicians are People, Too and are clutching traditional textbooks and workbooks to their chests with sighs of pleasure. My next one has requested that I buy her a spelling book. When it arrived, she did a little happy dance and pored over every page asking, "When does school start? When can I start my new book?"
My little guys are still little. Reading, games, and love are still enough.
I get the strong sense that all of us are tired of the adventure and are in need of a season of security. We all crave 4 walls around us. We are ready to crawl into the box and close the cover over our heads. My middle 3 have each said in various ways, "I'm tired of having to figure out how to do it. I just want to be told what to do and then do it."
I feel exactly the same way.
I realize that I have no support network around me for this new way of being--lesson plans, check off lists, formal beginning of school year dates, and assigning grades (my oldest is starting high school this year). The voices with which I've surrounded myself pooh-pooh such things.
But this move is right for my family. I can feel it in my heart and mind and spirit. If homeschooling is about the freedom to choose, to do what is best when it is best, then I must ignore the voices that poke fun at this way of doing things and simply do what feels right.
And I don't know for sure that it will last forever.
This could simply be a season of rest that we all need as we prepare for Baby #8 and the public-system adoptions we're still working on.
Or it could be a long-term commitment.
I don't know.
Most people follow a traditional path. To homeschool is the exception to the rule. And to create one's own curriculum is the exception to the exception to the rule. We're used to bucking the system, going our own way, taking the road less traveled. It has taken deliberate work to find like-minded people and surround my family and myself in a web of support.
I know we're not alone as we step back toward the main road--the enormous educational companies from whom we are buying our supplies testify to how many people are doing what we're doing . . . along with the computerized transcript companies, and the online schools, the co-ops, and the all-in-one curriculum plans whose catalogs flood my mailboxes every day--but I feel oddly alone.
Even as I type these words, I know that the loneliness is false. I can think of many times my most outside-of-of-the-box creative friends have used traditional methods and plans for their kids. This makes me smile and feel relieved.
We're doing what we need to do.
This is going to be a good year.