not your typical back-to-school post

My children have learned a lot this year. Stuff that isn’t even touched on in a regular school curriculum, such as, say:

How To Not Fall Out Of A Moving Bus While Standing In The Doorway.
How To Turn On The Gas For A Warm Shower.
How To Not Have A Clue and Not Show It. (They failed this one.)
How To Carry A Tub Of Cake On Your Head All The Way To Market And Then Sell It.
How To Tolerate Being Stared At, Patted, Pinched, And Admired.

With them in school and both my husband and I working, book larnin’ hasn’t been high on the list. After sitting in classes for seven hours, I think it’s more important for them to spend the last remaining daylight running around outdoors than sitting at the kitchen table drilling flash cards.

That said, the lack of ed-you-kate-in, as in reading, writing, and arithmetic, has worried my mind. Not too much, but enough that I thought I ought to do something about it.


In my latest newsletter, I wrote about my frustration with how I’m not being used at Bezaleel. There’s a great need, yes, but no one seems to have the wherewithal to transform My Amazing Potential into A Viable Resource. At the end of my whiny rant, I quipped, “If nothing else, I can pull my own children out of school and tutor them.”

Last week was exam week at Bezaleel. Since there were no normal classes, rather than hanging out in the teachers’ lounge wishing I had something to do, I made good my threat and pulled my kids out of school, one at a time, for some serious one-on-one tutoring time, ba-BAM.

My older son stayed home on Monday, and Wednesday and Friday, the girls had their turns (the youngest was spared my tyranny). For hours each day, I directed, instructed, corrected, and guided to my heart’s content. And the kids were receptive! In fact, after working hard for six hours, my son said, “Can’t I stay home from school every day? This is so much fun!”

(Clarifying note: this is not what our homeschooling schedule normally looks like. I hardly ever get hours of uninterrupted instruction time with one child anywhere, either here or there.)


On a couple different occasions, I’ve been asked, now that I’ve experienced firsthand the institutionalized educational system, if I’m going to send my children to school once we return home.

The answer: absolutely not.

Let me be clear. I am so glad that we chose to send our children to school this year. The school is wonderful, the teachers kind and professional, the setting safe and secure. But I can hardly wait to quit this school business and get back to homeschooling because I miss it something fierce.

I miss hanging out with my children, including them in household chores, reading together. I miss being involved in their learning. I miss the challenge of deciding what, how, and when to educate them. I miss our lunches of leftovers, all of us perched on stools around the kitchen table. I miss our lazy mornings by the fire, piles of library books strewn across the floor. I miss free afternoons and lingering rest times and late(er) evenings. I miss dappling in special projects, spontaneous outings, and friend swaps. I miss being with my kids.

There are, of course, so many things I don’t miss, like all the bickering and feeling like I’m going to climb out of my skin and the exhaustion of Following Through. Having thirty-five, glorious, kid-free hours each week—hours in which I am not mediating fights, watching my clean house disintegrate under muddy feet and tossed clothes, listening to silly babble, being irritated by rolled eyes and bobble-doll heads (my daughter has a gift—she belongs on a dashboard), enforcing chores, disciplining, chiding, prodding—is downright blissful. And yet…

And yet.

These eye-rolling, bickering children are mine. Call me crazy (stop shouting already! I can’t think!), but those problems we have—and do we ever have our share of problems!—are ours to work through. I miss the, the…privilege? opportunity? of giving them my full (albeit often resentful and pissed off) attention.

So while I thoroughly enjoy my calm, quiet mornings, I am oh-so-ready to scrap the go-to-school business and delve once again into the daily drudge (that will, no doubt, make me want to stick a pin in my eye in 0.0062014 seconds, ahhhh!) of spending our days learning, fighting, living at home, together

PS. If I call begging you to watch my children because I am Losing It, don’t smirk. Or at least not so I can see. ‘Kay? Thanks.

PPS. It’s not just me hankering after our educational independence and freerer schedule—the kids are, too.


  • School Bears

    I spend my life in schools and pushed my kids hard when they got home to do more homework and extra work.
    Now I am older and wider I wish 1) I had let them have more relaxing evening time and 2) I had spent more time with them instead of burying my head in work. Now they are grown up and gone – it's too late.

  • Anonymous

    My kids are all grown but I home schooled them for all the reasons you have detailed so eloquently: the joy of watching them learn, of reading endless books together, of flexible schedules, of choice over what and when and how, of seeing them have time to pursue their own interests and learn more than I could possibly teach them. I am grateful for those hard, challenging, wonderful years. No education is perfect. Homeschooling can be one of the better options. Becky

  • Starr

    My daughter starts kindergarten today. And my biggest gripe is that it cuts into my time with her. Thank goodness it's only half-day. I wish that were an option for later years, too. A little school, a lot of home.

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