So I'm reading all these fantastic homeschooling blogs and I keep seeing pics of graduating 8th graders. These kids look so happy and awesome in their caps and gowns and I'm thinking Oh, how wonderful! And then I'm thinking We didn't do that. Should we have done that? I'm trying to hard to think of what we did do when professor made the big leap from 8th grade to high school (just last year) and I'm thinking we pretty much didn't do anything at all. We did have a Confirmation party and gifts though and that was pretty fun. And I'm sure we must have said something like Next year is officially high school! even though he'd kind of been doing a little high school level work already.
It's all very confusing.
I admit that I'm a wannabe unschooler and I think it oozes out into everything we do. We certainly "do" school but my spirit is constantly staging an interior rebellion against lesson plans and testing. The result is that I vacillate between uber relaxed mode and freak out control mode. The freak out is always a direct consequence of some external expectation that I'm not sure we've satisfied. My temper flares because I am not actually unhappy with our approach of life as school and I feel forced to comply with requirements that don't always fit with what I think is a better plan. I realize that our way of life doesn't always look like what the world expects and I start passing on my anxiety to the kids.
On the other hand, I understand that there are certain keys which open certain doors in life. If my kids want to go to college or enter specific careers, they will have to acquire those keys.
I imagine that homeschooling would be a little easier for us if I just picked one approach and stuck with it. Maybe. On the other hand, many of the families I know who are putting their kids into school after a period of homeschooling have used formal programs and checked off their boxes far better than I have. Some of them are tapped out and feeling inadequate. Perhaps parenting is just tough no matter which method you choose. It's a path of sacrificial love and takes all at every moment to discern well for the kids according to family and individual need and temperament.
But the fact remains... I am stuck somewhere in the middle of pulling off a somewhat school-ish looking academic year and gladly allowing "school" to become subservient to life. The 8th grade graduation thing must have fallen during the latter mood.
People keep asking me if we have finished up school for the year and I keep stuttering stupid responses like: Uh... no. Well, yes, I guess... or we've actually just tapered off because lots more fun stuff keeps popping up. So, no, not really because we do keep working on Math and English through the Summer. But probably... for the most part.
The scary part is that I'm telling the absolute truth. I have just stopped looking at the year in that concrete way until I'm in a situation where I must. And then the honest to goodness truth is that our school year doesn't generally stop and start like it does in the rest of the world.
Professor is technically finishing up his first year of high school but while time passes in that linear fashion, his education is much more layered and continuous. Would I have liked him to finish up some math today? Sure... but instead, I let him sleep in a little long because we all stayed up way late hanging out with two of the coolest priests in town (not an opportunity to be missed). Then he did some prep for a meeting with the director of Cleveland Right to Life that was scheduled for this afternoon... after which, he headed off to a radio station for an hour interview which is airing tomorrow... and then he'll go to his part-time job as a referee. And I just can't get upset about the math, you know? He tells me "It'll get done, mom." I'm still not sure it will, but still... I see this kid doing and learning like a gigantic sponge and I'm okay.
I know a very excellent and loving father whose wife used to home educate their many children. He told me that she just felt overwhelmed by it all but that someday, when he wins the lottery, he's going to pull them out of school and unschool them because he thinks it's a beautiful idea. That's kind of how I feel. Someday, when we win the financial, mental, emotional, and political lottery... we're gonna just dump the workbooks and LIVE school.
It's my pipe dream. I've written about it so many times before. In the meantime, I have another 8th grader coming up next year and I wonder if she'd like to "graduate" or just gently move on. Perhaps we'll just have a rockin' Confirmation party.