So Matilda’s gap year has come to an end. 2014 has been an adventure in homeschooling. I’ve had a teacher’s dream job – a classroom with one gifted student, eager to learn.
This is the year I made new friends, learnt Japanese, went on interesting excursions and got re-acquainted with our local library. Matilda now plays guitar, tutors one of Christopher’s friends, plays a mean game of netball and can rollerskate with the best of them. She also walks taller, stands up for herself and chatters warmly and effusively to her new friends.
She’s still a sensitive child – she wouldn’t be Matilda if she wasn’t – but her eyes have lost that hunted, anxious look, she eats her lunch and goes to sleep at night.
Of course, it hasn’t all been easy. It’s hard work organizing regular social catch-ups for Matilda and regular sanity-breaks for myself, and I often feel I could be doing more with her (her brain is enormous). It’s no picnic having to explain myself everywhere I go, either (No, she’s not sick, we homeschool. You want me to explain my reasons for homeschooling in 140 characters or less? Forget it. She’s sick.)
But it’s a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
I love the lifestyle. I love learning about how Matilda learns. I love the rich curriculum and I love being able to tailor it to Matilda’s needs. I love the freedom and the simplicity. I love socializing with other families. I love the space it creates for extracurricular activities.
I feel like the most stress I’ve dealt with this year has been related to Christopher’s school. The pick ups and the drop offs. The tiredness and crankiness. The readers and the homework books. The bullying and standard-issue cruelty. And the endless, endless admin.
Homeschooling is rather strange, I guess. But sending my children off to a one-size-fits-all institution for an inefficiently mass-produced education is a different sort of strange. Not that I’m anti-school. And not that I’m telling you to homeschool or judging you for not homeschooling or waiting for you to list the manifold reasons why you can’t homeschool. I’m just trying to work out what works for my family.
All through the year, Christopher had begged me to homeschool him too and I’ve struggled to find a reason not to do it. It was difficult saying goodbye to the school, but in another way, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
So, I’m committing to one more year of homeschool. After this year, things get a little more complicated. Harry will be old enough for school and Matilda will be in Grade 6 and might benefit from a year at school before she goes to high school. But I’m only doing things one year at a time. I will have a clearer idea of where to go later this year. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Am I a mad person?