Saturday, January 28, 2012

Big Step

So I did the deed.  Called iQ Academy and withdrew B12...went in to the public middle school and registered him for 7th grade.  We picked his electives, and he was assigned a homeroom teacher and a "house" or team of kids he'll be stuck with for all his classes.  Fortunately, it was the same house of the friend he shadowed a week ago, so he'd already started making some friends there.  The schoolbus driver will expect him on Monday morning.

I took him out for brunch on Friday, and we had a nice long talk about "things we want to talk about."  We covered books he's reading (Ender's Game) and might want to read (The Dragonriders of Pern series), and what he likes about video games (the strategy, and the mythology and lore behind World of Warcraft characters), and soccer (strategy, and running around with friends).  I ask whether he's nervous about starting school, and he's philosophical:  "I figure it will be awkward being the new kid for the first few days, and then, probably by the second week or so, it will be fine."  I didn't know that he had changed his life's ambition to working for Apple (well, he hasn't entirely lost interest in working for the FBI or CIA) or that currently his favorite thing to learn about is computers. History is his favorite academic subject, because "there is always something new to read about." We laughed at that, history being new, but always old.  We talked about choosing friends wisely, and thinking critically about what he heard at school.  We talked about piano lessons, and how it's not that fun anymore.  I promised him that every piano student goes through a period where it's more work than fun, and then the work pays off and it starts to get fun again.  Hang in there, I told him.  But mostly, I listened.  He's such a cut-up at home--it's hard to get two serious words in a row out of him.

We went shopping for clothes.  As you may have observed in photos, B12 is not a fan of clothing and usually wears silky gym shorts--and nothing else--24/7, four seasons a year. He loves his faux silk sheets and if he's cold, he wraps up in a faux fur blanket.  He's bothered by tags and scratchiness and probably has a mild sensory integration issue that he's either outgrowing or learning to tolerate, because of course he wears clothes when he has to.  I rarely buy clothes for him, since he has drawers of cool hand-me-downs from B16 that he never wears. But he was asking for a couple more pairs of jeans and a couple hoodies to start school with, and I was delighted to oblige.  He won't wear winter coats, either--can't stand the "fatness" of them--but he'll layer hoodies.

For supplies, he has a backpack and a calculator already, and we have a stockpile of spiral notebooks, folders and mechanical pencils he can choose from. He's been practicing with the combination lock the school gave him.  I think he's ready.

I'm ready too, I think...and not.  It's going to be weird to have just B16 at home.  (Well, B21 is home too, but he's not a student.) I caught up with Ann Kennedy's blog this morning and I remember so well those days with all six underfoot and trying to fit in lessons every day along with the laundry and the grocery shopping and keeping the kitchen in usable shape, and I wonder how I did it?  Because I can't fathom it right now.  I just can't.

So much changed when we moved, and my stress levels increased phenomenally in so many other areas of my life, that it just became clear that outsourcing my kids' education, for a time, at least, was the right thing for me and for my family.  These days, my husband and my kids need me to be "wife" and "mom" more than they need me to be "teacher."  (Well, except for B16, who desperately needs me to be "geometry tutor" too.)

I still believe mightily in homeschooling and its benefits.  Although I think B12, C8 and B6 will go back to public school next year, I still see them returning to homeschooling sometime in the future. In fact, I've always thought that an ideal schedule might be to send kids to a classroom for the first few years of elementary school, while it's fun and everyone is nice and there are lots of enrichment opportunities like gym, art, music and recess. I've never really enjoyed teaching the basics of reading, writing and math anyway.  After they know the basics and the school routine is getting tiresome and not fun anymore, then let's switch to homeschooling and let them follow their interests and read and write stories all day long if they want to, for a few years before they have to get serious again in high school.  I'm still figuring out what works best for high school, I admit.  The virtual school option is working out well for B16, this year, but I think a once-a-week classroom setting with other homeschoolers--which I had for Blondechick back in IL, for 9th grade--would be better. Maybe by the time C8 and B6 are in high school, I'll be ready to launch it. (Not kidding--I think I might, someday, if it doesn't come into existence without me.)

I guess I'm saying I still feel like a homeschooling mom inside, even though I just can't do it right now. At least they are letting me teach drama classes at our theater group!  That is satisfying my teaching itch for now.

So, B12's new adventure begins Monday.  And mine too, it feels like, though I'm not sure why.

1 comment:

Jessica Snell said...

"These days, my husband and my kids need me to be 'wife' and 'mom' more than they need me to be 'teacher.'"

I can't tell you how wise it seems to me that you're taking the time to keep noticing and evaluating and reassessing your family, and flexible enough and kind enough to make the changes they need. Change is always hard (at least for me) and I really admire how gracefully you do it.

I always like reading your blog, because it's like a glimpse ahead into what my life might be a little bit like when all these little ones are a little bit older.