Friday, September 7, 2007

The Flexibility of Homeschooling

I’ve always appreciated the flexibility of homeschooling, and never more than during this past month. At the end of July, after nearly 10 months on the market, we received an offer on our house, with the buyer requesting possession less than four weeks later.

Of course, we accepted the offer, thrilled at the chance to finally get on with our lives. But we had no idea just how crazy it would be to try to move 19 years of stuff accumulated by our family of six, not to mention two businesses, in such a short period of time. As a result, we are now the renters of a house with a garage full of boxes, plus two storage garages in similar condition, and I’m having a hard time finding just about everything.

But we’re managing, and I can’t help but think how much harder this whole process would be if our kids were in school. They would have had to start school last week, just a week after we moved here. They’d need school supplies, clothes and all the other “necessities” of modern school attendance, whatever they are these days (after 20 years of homeschooling, I don’t even know!) I would have had to find time to register them at their new schools and attend whatever parent meetings they require.

Instead, all I’ve had to do is find the two specially marked boxes filled with their schoolbooks and start school. No, we don’t have all of our reference books on the shelves yet, nor have I been able to find my lesson plan book. But we’re just sitting at the kitchen table, working a day at a time, and things are going fine. In fact, adding “school” to our daily routine has made our new house seem very much like home.

While it’s been a big help during our rushed out-of-state move, the flexibility of homeschooling is also noticeable in the little things that happen on any given day. Last night, noisy storms swept through our area. Our 14-year-old, who has Down syndrome, has always been terrified of storms. At the old house, he’d cry out for my husband and me and, being in the next room, one of us would hear him and comfort him. Now he’s in a room upstairs next to his sister’s, while we’re downstairs, so we didn’t hear his cries last night. But his sister did, and she comforted him and calmed him down. However, he was not able to go back to sleep, so he played and drew pictures quietly in his room until breakfast time.

Soon after breakfast, he fell asleep on the living room sofa. Now, if he were in school, I’d have had to wake him up and put him, drowsy and probably cranky, on the bus. Instead, I just left him to sleep, and spent the morning working with his sister. He awoke shortly before lunch, rested though still groggy. By the time lunch was over, he was in much better spirits, and we were able to have a productive afternoon together working on his lessons.

That’s just one small example of the flexibility of homeschooling. Many homeschooling families have experienced it by being able to take vacations in the fall, when tourist areas are less crowded because most families are back in their schools and offices. It can be seen in the relief of a mom who can stay home with her new baby instead of dragging the poor little thing around while she takes her kids back and forth to school and its related activities. It’s very appreciated by the dad who is able to take a child with him on a business trip, and the grandparents who can bring their grandchildren home with them for a two-week visit any time of year they wish.

That flexibility must be a big secret to outsiders, though, because people always seem to think we homeschool moms have such demanding lives. Shows what they know!


kat said...

We realized the flexibility of homeschooling this past week. My husband stayed home with the kids while I went to stay with my mother.

She died on Friday and I took the oldest to the funeral Tuesday with no excuse notes to write, no calls to school to find out what they missed, no burden of trying to get back in time to not miss classes. It made this trying time much easier on all of us.

Barbara Frank said...

Dear Kat,

I am so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. Thank God you were able to be with her before she died. Please accept my condolences.

I have written about grieving and homeschooling. Maybe it will help a bit. You'll find it here:

Praying that you will be comforted,