For three years now, August has been a month of homeschool excitement and planning. I do touch on it briefly in the Spring, making a few notes as we close the school year, and finding inspiration almost daily in my inbox or mailbox from homeschool suppliers. Spring is the time for curriculum sales and homeschool conventions - I'll take advantage of one or two things, but August is when I really sit down and get to work.
We have some pretty big changes coming this year. The first being that Emily is technically a high schooler (!!). It's amazing how quickly you can lose sight of labeling a persons grade level once they come home to school, but alas, a high schooler she is. I look forward to helping her get the most from her young adult years, identify another passion or two (or three), and expose her to life in the most meaningful way possible.
The second piece of exciting change is that Adam will be shifting his professional work to part-time - as in, going to the office only two days a week part time! This is a huge step, one we've been preparing for very carefully. We are incredibly grateful that he is in a supportive work environment that can accommodate this. He will also be taking over some of the management details (and hopefully web development/maintenance) of my work. But most importantly, we are making this change because we think it will best support our homeschooling goals. Over this past year we have identified individual strengths as homeschool parents and have discovered that as a team, we compliment each other perfectly. Together, we can provide Emily with an optimal experience through her scholarly years.
Adam is the intellectual, the cerebral force in this adult duo. Sure, I'm a smarty pants too, but the way his mind files away every fact and figure he's ever read or heard, ready to be retrieved, is a special gift indeed. This is also how Emily's mind works, a match made in heaven, those two. If I were to hire someone to walk alongside Emily as a guide/teacher throughout her education, it would be Adam. And he's free! (Well, not really, there is the not so small detail of giving up a partial salary...) To add to this, Adam is the fun guy. Just last night they spontaneously went out back to target shoot with the beebee guns while I heated up dinner. I do not think of these things. But I did have dinner and sliced watermelon waiting for them when they came inside, that is how my mind works.
I am an organizer, a planner, a researcher. My strength lies in creativity, intuition and making things happen. It is second nature for me to feel out how a day should flow, how an environment should feel. I know where materials can be sourced and how to best balance (energetically speaking) the need for out of the house social meet-ups with quiet at home learning.
We are a team, Adam and I. It is time to play out our most important adventure to date.
So here we are in our third year of homeschooling. The last two years have been exploratory in many ways. The first year was idyllic as Emily's best friend, who lived directly across the street from us, also homeschooled. It was a dreamy year. Her friend was in her eighth grade year at the time and her family's plan was for her to attend public high school the following year. We knew this would be a major shift in our routine (we missed her!) and that we would need to up our game when it came to making the right connections for Emily.
Last year was very transitional for us. Some of it planned, a lot of it unplanned. We moved, we helped my parents move, my father was diagnosed with cancer, my work increased, I entered school, we lost three of our beloved pets... oh my, life overflowed. There was more too, but that list seems like quite enough.
It was a good year in many ways, but it wasn't the most satisfying for Emily. Though she understands perfectly well that this is just how life rolls sometimes, we are all hoping for a smoother experience this year (we can always hope).
There is nothing like the month of August to ignite a homeschool mama's inspiration.
Emily has a close group of friends from her former school that she stays in touch with and sees on a near weekly (or twice weekly) basis. It's kind of amazing really, it was "just" elementary school for goodness sake, how can the friendships be so strong and lasting? But that is how this place was... like family. Still, most of those kids have gone off to various 'out of the house' schools, and Emily sometimes feels, well, a bit different. (Even though many said friends [and sports teammates] tell her, "I wish I could homeschool!")
It's okay to be different. Naturally, we give her the usual parenting pep talk, who wants to be like everyone else? Be you!! She gets that, of course, but she's also fourteen and just wants to fit in nicely with her friends. Slip under the radar if you will.
But what about meeting new friends? Friends that homeschool? We talked about not letting go of her current friends (goodness no, they are family!), but that it's okay to seek new connections - that she has room in her heart and life for more friends without giving up what she already has. And they can certainly all blend and get to know each other over time as well. It will be fun to have friends who can take field trips during the day, see a band at a coffee house or go to a Uconn game on a weeknight (because they don't have homework).
This is all pretty obvious stuff to you and I, but to Emily, lets just say she was a little set in her ways for much of last year and wasn't actively looking to reach out to new people. But then she dug deep and realized she wanted to continue homeschooling, which also meant she needed to play a more active part in building this homeschool world of limitless possibility. In the Spring she reached out to other homeschool friends (who went to her former school for a short time) and together they dressed in sparkles, curled their hair, and went to their first formal dance. She had the time of her life.
While at the dance Emily met some girls that she knows online (she maintains a small, private homeschool blogging world). What fun that was for them! A blogger meet-up, just like us adult bloggers do. ;)
Since the dance there have been many tweets, emails, and teen group invites. Yesterday we had a chance to meet up with these wonderful young ladies for the first monthly Teen Book Club, hosted and created by one of the girls. There was such an ease to this get together, for Emily and for me at the mama's table. It was just the spark we needed to get this year underway, one that I hope is filled with her continued effort to put herself out there and say yes to the freedom and possibility each day holds.
She's growing up and owning her life more and more each day. She's expanding her tribe and feeling extremely inspired. What a gift to witness so much of that process throughout each day.
And this year, I'm so happy to have my best friend joining us for the ride.