We have thoroughly enjoyed homeschooling our children for NINE years! I originally intended to just do Kindergarten to Gabe, but it went so well, and our family was grooving with it, so we kept going just one year at a time. I loved the richness of our content, the time in nature, the learning we could customize per child, and especially the freedom it afforded us as a family.
This freedom allowed us to embark on a three year trek as Freejourners around the country, mostly around the Western US, enjoying all the National Parks and beautiful sites and hikes it had to offer. We hopped around from city to city, living in many for a month at a time, meeting amazing people and learning so much along the way.
I feel like our kids were at perfect ages to do that. Honestly, though, any ages are perfect, depending on the desires of a family. But our oldest was 11-14 years as we traveled. We stayed connected to their long-time best buddies and joined sports teams wherever we went, so they were always around kids. But as they were getting older, like most kids, they need us parents less and need more time away from us to grow and stretch around others.
This was the year for our kids. So, we decided that it was a great time for them to head to school! Gabe, our oldest, entered 9th, and Isaac went into 7th grade. (Jadyn will be with us at least another year, learning at home.)
And so far, so good. We’ve survived the first week, with new sleep schedules, packed lunches, piles of papers to sign, weird schedules and deadlines, and even sports practices! Gabe made the JV soccer team, and we were so proud of him!
They lucked out, too, because this was the first year, the entire district went “paperless” – NO Textbooks! They each got a Chromebook and can easily function around Google Apps as they’ve been using it our whole homeschool life!
But it hasn’t been without hiccups. Gabe is fortunate enough to take 2 classes online as an academic athlete in anticipation for his upcoming snowboarding practices. He can just go to the library to work on them. But that first week, he should have been checking in with a teacher in a classroom first. Somehow we missed that detail. So he went 3 days without going. When he finally realized and checked in, the teacher told him he’d get an “unexcused absence.” There were 5 seconds of awkward silence when Gabe asked what that was. The teacher wondered if he was being sarcastic! Gabe was able to share that he’d “been homeschooled all his life,” and really didn’t know and had indeed been working in the library. I think he got off fine.
Other than that, though, the boys are having a great time for the most part, just tired. I love that they can experience school from the “outside-in.” They can observe the lunchtime/classtime dynamics and feel free inside, but noting how people group around. They are engaging with the teachers and are really eager to learn and participate. They want to hold onto their creativity, their deep thinking, and their boldness. I love it. But they also get to experience the “pressure” of deadlines and grades and social expectations. It’s all good.
I have to say, though, I’m still so grateful to be homeschooling another year. We juggle our business and life and schooling from home, so our days are always full and intense. But I still enjoy learning about science with Jadyn, reading about the Kings & Queens of England, watching her blossom into a creative writer, and especially being out in nature, taking in all that life has to offer.
Here’s to another year for us as a family, living and learning together. It looks a lot different for us this year, but we are really looking forward to it!