Monday, August 24, 2009

School Daze

Okay, I knew this was coming. I had it sort of slightly quasi-planned, even.

So why do I feel guilty about waiting to start school until after Labor Day?

We've started that late before, after all. There were plenty of years when summer would speed by at its lightning pace, and we'd watch it wind out its very end before hitting the books. Granted, the girls were a lot younger then, and one of our annual challenges was keeping busy until at least the end of April, not struggling to finish by July, but still...

I think it's because when I first realized that various family obligations would tie up our time right through the end of the first week of September, I thought that it would be possible to start early. Late July, early August, perhaps. The books would all be purchased and organized, the high school planning for Kitten's first year of high school would be complete and well-considered, and we could get a few weeks of the year out of the way before our planned visit with out-of-town relatives at the end of the summer. Nothing could be simpler, right?


I forgot about other obligations I had in June that kept me from ordering the books early. I forgot how many issues and decisions had yet to be made about high school, and how different this high school year would be from our previous homeschooling adventures. I forgot that planning for people to come and visit takes time and effort, too; I forgot how much time flies when you're having fun.

So midway through July I announced a change in plans--school would start September 8. And there was much rejoicing, but not from me; I felt like a slacker, compared to the year-rounders and summertime dabblers and all the happy homeschoolers out there who would have a whole month of school completed before we even began.

And that's when I realized that I was falling into one of the many homeschooling pits--the one where you compare yourself to other people in different situations, and come away feeling like a less-than-successful homeschooler.

Sure, sometimes looking around at what others are doing can be motivational, inspiring, encouraging. But other times we tend to forget that our own circumstances, needs, and family situations carve out a path for us that others might not be following. I'm sure I'm not the only homeschooling mom who is waiting until Sept. 8 to start this year's official schooling, but somehow the cute planners already going up on various people's blogs have made me feel some of that modified stationary panic I wrote about here--even though I know that waiting is the right thing to do for our family this year given our family's circumstances.

If I had rushed to plan, I probably would have missed many things that I needed to think about and order. If we had rushed to start, I'd probably be crabby and stressed about our relatives' visit "interrupting" our school momentum. If we had tried continuing our schooling during the summer, we would have missed out on other things that came along, other opportunities for the kind of learning that happens spontaneously and enriches the mind.

So it's time to take a deep breath, get ready for our company to come at the end of this week, and remember that when Bookgirl asks Grandpa about his work as a neuropsychologist (something she found very interesting last time Grandpa visited), she--and all of us--are learning a lot. Even if we aren't, as of yet, "doing school."


Dawn Farias said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

Rebecca said...

Same thing kept happening to me...I had wonderful plans, or plans to make plans, and then things kept happening...then I noticed my kids learned stuff anyway...then I realized we were unschooling without having meant to...then it seemed kind of nice, so we kept it up. I suggest that when life moves faster than your plans, relax and call yourself an unschooler. I saw this fridge magnet I really like: "We plan. God laughs. Just wing it."

Deirdre Mundy said...

We're doing year-round school right now--- because my oldest is in Kindergarten, and school's still a special treat. Plus she really wants to learn to read.

But your girls? They're old enough that they can probably learn just as much from a few weeks of extra time for their books and their hobbies as they can from organized school!