Well I wish I could make this short and sweet, but I feel a long post coming on. (You've been warned).
I started out homeschooling Simeon because he was probably the most hyperactive 5 year old I had ever known. :) I knew he would be labeled ADHD in kindergarten and we'd be pressured to put him on Ritalin. I wanted to give him a year to "settle down" and mature before sending him. Maybe too, I just wasn't quite ready to give him up. :)
Homeschooling ended up being a wonderful time of bonding between the two of us. Knowing he needed more hands-on activities, I was able to tailor his education to fit his needs. For some reason, kindergarten homeschooling turned into first grade, then second. He never really "settled down". He is still a very active and sometimes stubborn 10 year old boy.
We did try public school last year for the first time, and I was glad for it for many reasons, including:
1. I got a much needed break.
2. I learned of a few academic areas (mainly grammar) where my kids were lacking, and other areas where they were really doing well.
3. It gave me some time to bond with Hope before adopting Ava, and gave me time to bond with Ava after adopting Ava.
4. My kids made some new friends, and got over their fears of the dreaded word, "school".
5. My kids experienced deadlines, consequences, and positive peer pressure to perform in a way that I couldn't reproduce at home.
What I didn't like about my kids in school, I can pretty much sum up in one word. Time. 8 hours a day is an awful long time for kids to be away from home (in my opinion). It seemed like we were always rushing to get them off to school, rushing to get homework done before activities, rushing to get chores and devotions done before bed. And so when they all 3 asked to be homeschooled again this year, I agreed.
Homeschooling certainly has its ups and downs, as does every other school option in my opinion. Some children are much easier to homeschool than others. One child in particular, which I named previously, while sweet and tenderhearted, can be very stubborn and manipulative at times. I am constantly having to be on my toes to make sure he is not taking advantage of my easy going nature to get out of doing work. I would certainly love to have some time to myself every now and then. My house is messier and louder, and I think the food bill is higher than when the kids were in school. I have to go out of my way to create play dates for what they call "socialization".
Then again, we have the time to focus on what is really important to us. Mainly, incorporating God into everything we study. We talk a lot about character traits of certain historical figures, God's amazing design in science, God's love for us through art and poetry, God's order through math. We talk a lot about honoring our parents, loving our siblings and neighbors. We have more time to learn Bible verses, make crafts, help around the house, learn life skills like cooking and cleaning. And of course, since we are finished around noon or so, there is so much more time for running and playing. I always wonder what Ava's bus drivers are thinking when they come pick her up at 12:30 and my kids are outside fishing, or riding their bikes.
If I could create the perfect school experience, it would be a public, free, half day or 2 day a week program. The kids would do all their book work at home, then on their "school" days, they would have clubs....Math club, science club, art club, chess club, whatever the kids enjoy and want to learn. They would learn some new skills, make some friends, experience a little friendly competition. That would be the perfect school, in my opinion. But nobody has asked me. :)
For us, schooling is something that may change from year to year depending on our kids' needs, our finances, and being obedient to what we feel the Lord is calling us to do, even for Ava. So far private school has not been an option for us, but if it was to be in the future I would be open to that too. In other words, homeschooling is not necessarily a long term commitment. I do hope one day I'll be able to go to the grocery store in the middle of a weekday without any children in my cart. :) But for now I am enjoying the special times we have together, challenges and all.