Today I began my last semester of homeschooling. And it is so bittersweet.
I have deeply loved the past 8 years spent homeschooling my girls. I will always cherish the memories of snuggles on the couch while reading our favorite books; the science experiments reeking havoc in the kitchen; the hikes through the woods to our favorite picnic spot; afternoons spent covered in paint and glitter, watching projects take shape.
Of course, our years did not go without struggle. Lows. Times when I questioned if what I was doing was best. Periods where there was resistance. Doubt. Anger.
But now, as this chapter of our lives comes to close, I find myself allowing those challenging times to illuminate just how wonderful the good days were.
For without the dark, we cannot truly appreciate the light.
And I choose to remember this era of our lives as a bright moment in our family’s history.
As I prepare to close this portion of my story, a new chapter is on the cusp of emergence.
My girls and I have found a new love: ceramics. We happened upon a class that had some open seats and immediately we knew it was a match made in Heaven.
A common misconception of homeschooled-children is that they lack socialization. My experience (be it only a brief one and a half years so far) has illustrated to me that the exact opposite is actually true. Not only do my girls interact with children their own age while at homeschool co-op, through sports and camps, and during their involvement in scouts, homeschooling allows time for my girls to interact with those much younger and older than them. My girls love helping out with the little bitty ones when they are at the YMCA or at co-op, and they also cherish the moments they get to spend with residents of their great grandmother’s retirement community.
Our new-found ceramics class has also offered my girls a wonderful opportunity to, not only learn a wide array of artistic techniques, but also interact with a lovely group of ladies of an older generation. My girls love listening to their stories, and watching their experienced hands craft the most beautiful pieces of art. Our time spent in the studio on Tuesdays with these women is definitely a life experience for which I am so very grateful.
This whole homeschooling venture is still so new. It’s a good new, but still unfamiliar territory that I am working to navigate. This week has been especially challenging, what with coming off of the big birthday weekend, and now having various new puzzles, Lego sets and craft kits dotted throughout our home. And now, the challenge emerges in front of me: How do we have “school” when there is all this birthday present goodness acting as a distraction?
But isn’t it crazy how God gives us just what we need? This week we have been blessed with the most beautiful weather. It is warm, yet the scent of autumn can be found upon the breeze, and the fall foliage is in its true glory. With these glorious days set before us, I decided to pack up the books, and move our lessons outdoors this week. We spent our days at two of our favorite local spots, Aldeen Park and Atwood Park. There is just something to say about learning while being immersed in nature. It makes the learning process truly magical, and the movement and physical activity that can be incorporated in this setting is unmatched. Living in the Midwest, we know these outdoor educational opportunities will not last much longer, but boy are we working to soak it all up while we still can.
Over the weekend, my girls and I found a garage sale that seemed as if it was created just for us. It was awesome. That is why we went back three separate times. (Yes, this is true. Three. Times.) First off, the sale was located on a beautiful property housing a barn, several out-buildings and a cute little home. The expansive lawn was dotted with gorgeous antiques throughout it’s beautiful flower gardens. Very Victorian. I loved it. Then as we neared the selling area, we discovered it was filled with two main categories of items: teaching materials and antiques. Oh boy. The three of us Fagan girls were in heaven.
We ended up carting home some beautiful vintage towels and clothes pins, several cookbooks and gardening books dating as far back as 1952, and we outfitted our entire homeschool operation with books and other school supplies. I would say it was a huge success.
What were you up to this weekend? I would love to hear. Enjoy your week, friends.
From the time I was young, my mom always encouraged me to be my own person. Not to be afraid of what others thought of me, but to instead dare to be the person I believed I was meant to be. As I mentioned in this recent post, over the last several years I lost a bit of this independent spirit. More often than not, I began to do what I thought was acceptable by the majority, rather than doing what my gut was telling me.
Recently, while attending a presentation by Joel Salatin, he said, “If everyone else is doing it, I would tell you to do the exact opposite.” These words stirred something deep within me. Am I doing what I truly believe is best, or am I just moving with the current and doing what everyone else is doing? I began to feel this pull deep within me to not fear being different, but to instead embrace those “differences” and run with them.
Homeschooling is something I have had on my heart and mind since my eldest daughter began kindergarten. I never actually considered it a real option because it existed so far outside the realm of my daily life. The people by whom I surrounded myself would never consider homeschooling, and being a teacher by trade, I faced a great deal of skepticism and resistance any time I brought up the topic with other educators.
But I believe God places people and circumstances before us which can aide us in the making of very tough decisions. I believe He is the one that gives us that feeling deep in our gut, telling us what is best. It is just up to us whether or not we want to pay attention to Him. I believe He placed me in my teaching role at Cathedral of St. Peter School the past year and a half to build my confidence in two subjects I often feared. I believe He surrounded me with other educators who were open to non-traditional means of education if it best meets the needs of the child. And I believe He gave me two girls, who like me when I was young, appear eager to try something different and new. And with all of this in my back pocket, I decided to follow that feeling deep down inside of me, and embark upon the road less traveled by, and homeschool my girls this fall.
Now I don’t want to pretend that this decision was met with rosy eagerness by all, because that would be a very false statement. However, throughout this summer I have been working to find fabulous homeschooling resources and create a space that fosters a positive experience for my girls. And it is in the creation of this space that I feel confident to move forward in this new endeavor.