Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Why I Keep My Kids "School Ready"

One of the main reasons I give when others ask me why we homeschool is "freedom". I have the freedom to choose our schedule, our curriculum, and honestly, pretty much everything.

Yet, my girls are on a September - June schedule, in the traditional grade for their age, and I make sure we are at least in touch with what their peers are learning.

Wait...what? Why?

One of my reasons is "insurance". I can't predict the future, and I honestly can't say with 100% certainty we'll still be in the same place five years from now. If all things go as I hope, then yes, we'll still be homeschoolers, but can I guarantee that? No. I don't have that power. There are some things that could change our circumstances enough to force us into the system. And IF that happens, I want my girls to be as prepared as they can be to integrate. Yes, it will obviously be a major adjustment, whether they're used to their age/grade norm or not, but it'll help. And I like that they can confidently say "I'm in fourth grade" without a dissertation.

I also like that they have friends from all different schooling backgrounds. They have a large contingent of friends from our co-op, who are obviously homeschooled. But they also have a large group of friends who aren't. Although it's wonderful to have uncrowded visits to museums and libraries when school is in session, I like for them to at least have some time to connect with their school friends. So although we don't line up EVERY day (our start and finish days are slightly off, and we don't plan all our off days to line up), we make an effort to enjoy those long weekends with friends.

Finally, although I've tried to school year round, taking more time off during the year, going to "school lite" in the summer, the fact is that it just doesn't work with our schedule. I love that my girls are having traditional summer experiences with camps, sports, and dance intensives (ok, that part might not be as traditional). I love that we can spend our weekdays at the pool.

Do we still have freedom? Of course! I chose our curriculum, evaluating every single piece, replacing carefully, and I know it's a good fit for our style. I can slow down and speed up as necessary. I structured our week as I love it - four days of "work" and one "swing day" for trips, co-op, or catch up. If we get an opportunity for a trip or a class or an event, we can take it. I can play with ages and grade levels enough to get them into the classes I know are right for them.

Keeping my kids in line with the basic framework of the schools, while not having to be IN them, provides us with just the right balance to let my girls know that we can do our own thing, and still fit right in with our friends.
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