We ended our school year in a fast and furious twister of appointments, testing and reviews. It was stressful and insane and I hated every moment of it. There wasn't enough school getting done, the kids weren't learning anything and would therefore be hoodlums, living in my basement or in a van by the river for life.
I didn't have any patience. I was well aware that I was turning my kids into the $15 an hour McDonalds' workers I was actively disgusted with. They were going to be barely literate, understand minimum math, know history only from their birth date forward and be weird. We were engaged in mundane errands for hours on end, so no socializing was happening. That was surely going to negatively impact them - just as everyone had been telling me.
The school room was a disaster of papers, half finished year end projects, crafts, rough drafts of papers with the final draft having been lost. The floor had been used as a garbage can for the scraps of a diorama. There was a mug with the sticky residue of tea collecting dust on the table.
In short, it was sickeningly messy and unorganized. Complete chaos.
When we 'officially' ended our year, I slammed my binder closed, turned off the lights and walked out of the room. I did not pick up one thing - not a scrap of paper, not the tea stained mug. I left it all to continue collecting dust. I kept my head turned away from the doorway whenever I walked past. If I didn't see it, I didn't need to deal with it. Then one day I was hauling laundry past the door and forgot to look away. My eyes roamed over the disaster and I thought, "Wow. Look at that. A LOT of learning was going on there. That's a cool diorama-- is that a well so the crops can be watered? I can use the rough draft of the William Tell paper, she took good notes on what to correct and add. Nicely done, Kim, nicely done. Look at this room. What a success!" (OK, it may not have been that pretty, but you get the idea.) And then I walked away, smiling.
That quickly I learned an important lesson. While I'm actively homeschooling I am in a constant state of second guessing myself. Of worrying that whatever we're learning is not enough, is too in depth or not in depth enough. I'm afraid that I'm failing my children, my husband, myself and society in general. Because if my children do not become a successful dancing and cooking attorney (Violet), a dolphin researcher who experiences and stars in the next Dolphin Tale (Sarah) and a Master Builder with a masters from MIT and working for Lego (John), well, then, I've failed.
When the year is over and I'm 'simply' planning for the next year, I am a freaking ROCK STAR HOME SCHOOL MOM. I know that what I'm doing is the absolute best thing for my kids, my family, and yes, for society. I know that nobody else can teach my kids as well as I can - well except for science. We have to farm that subject out. But I can teach them about nouns, ancient Rome, Gettysburg, sentence structure and spelling. I can assign research papers and create a rubric for it, then correct a rough draft and grade the final paper - and it will be incredible. . Violet did her first paper on Baryshnikov and she still talks about what she learned. (And his feet. Good lord. Google his feet. Or... don't.) I can help John focus, I can get Sarah to write wonderful journals. I can get Violet to work things out for herself instead of assuming I'm going to feed her answers. I can do all those things. I can. I know this.
And here's something funny. I have a pretty extensive teaching degree. I can teach kids age birth-21 years of age with special needs. I can teach kids in grades KDG through 8th grade in self contained classrooms. I can teach kids with mental impairments, emotional impairments and developmental delays. In all of these situations in a classroom I would be given a curriculum. Let's read that again, shall we? I would have a curriculum if I were teaching in a brick and mortar school, chosen by a school board (is that who picks?) for an entire district of children. Here, at home, I.Have.A.Curriculum. Only this one is chosen by a mother who intimately knows her children's individualized needs, strengths and weaknesses and makes her choices based on those. Well. Then this scenario should be vastly more successful.
So why do I not know this while teaching? *sigh* I don't know. But I'm going to try much harder to remember this feeling, to remember this knowledge and this confidence. I've got until August to get it in my brain -- wish me luck.