I've been gone for a long time, I know. I'm sorry that I've left you waiting.
We've had big changes around the Magnolia household. Just last week, we brought our oldest child home from charter school...for good. Why the change of heart? Was the education sub par? No, it was perfectly fine. In fact, for all their talk of advanced curriculum, Spuds did just fine. He didn't even blink at the "advanced" curriculum. Was it behavioral issues? Again, no. There was no throwing chairs across the room, cuss words flying, early dating behaviors or bullying going on. That is certainly part of what turned us off from our local public school. This charter school was very good at producing good behavior from its students. It was a variety of less obvious issues that helped us decide that it was time to bring Spuds home.
1. We were driving 2 hours each day to transport Spuds to and from school. It wasn't that the school was that far away, but, with the addition of morning traffic and the traffic created by a school of 1300 children and no buses, it was a long drive. Both Hubby and I were absolutely exhausted. It was taking it's toll on the younger Magnolia clan, as well. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.
2. The charter school was costing us big bucks! We paid for Spuds' uniform, which could only come from certain dealers. It wasn't outrageous cost-wise, but it wasn't Target. We were paying extra in packaged foods for lunch. We made a lot of things from scratch, but we couldn't do it all. We were paying over $60 each month in gas, too. To make matters worse, the school had a premium on all of its enrichment activities. Twice a week Spanish was $320 for the school year. To have the opportunity to play in the sports program, it was $130, plus the individual team costs. To play in the school orchestra or band, there was a monthly rental cost. That wasn't a huge problem for us, other than the fact that the music teacher selected Spuds instrument for us. What was their decision, after 2 weeks of observing our son? Trumpet. ...No, seriously. Trumpet. They obviously didn't take into account the fact that we have 5 children producing a healthy share of noise in our home already. (It will be recorder and basic piano at home. Hopefully, I can teach Spuds and PeeWee violin and viola next year.)
3. We were SICK! Not just a little sniffle or minor stomach bug. Six out of the seven of us were sick on our butts for the majority of the 3 weeks in school. Bebe got croup 3 times. It was a minor case each time, but it wouldn't be long before we'd end up in the hospital with her again. Her Autumn bouts of croup are always more managable than the mid-Winter ones. Booboo ended up with head to toe hives from a virus and still, a week later, has a lingering cough-cold. Both croup and these agressive hives are capable of being life-threatening to our children. Bebe, Schmoocas and PeeWee were all preemies. Booboo and Spuds were early babies, too. They just don't have the immune systems that other children do. I know that exposure to germs strengthens the immune system of the average child, but Hubby and I are confident that it will take a few more years before our children are even capable of building a stronger immune system.
From our brief time back in the public/charter school system, we discovered that we weren't really missing that much. I think that was what my Heavenly Father wanted me to know. I think that is why I was allowed to go forward and place Spuds in school. It wasn't about him. It was about me and getting this notion out of my own head that we were missing something. I allowed myself to be influenced by my own doubts and fears. I allowed myself to listen to the doubts and fears of others, especially in our own extended family. What I came to realize was that I needed to stick to what I knew to be true. Our Heavenly Father wanted us to be a homeschooling family. I have received that confirmation over and over again through the years. Can I homeschool five children on my own? No way. I can absolutely, 100% homeschool my children with the help of my Father in Heaven, with the support of my homeschool friends (both online and in my daily life) and with the support of my wonderful husband, who loves homeschooling almost as much as I do.
So, after a lot of prayer and thought, we brought Spuds home. He understood our reasons and was fine with the change. He misses his friends at school, but is adapting quickly to our homeschool day. We are still dealing with the lingering illness and exhaustion from our time with the charter school, but I'm confident that we'll be back up to speed by next week.
The obvious question is, "Are we ever going to return to public or charter school?" Since I can't see all that is ahead of us in the next 16 years, I can't say for sure. However, I will say that we're planning on homeschooling until our kids graduate from high school. Neither Hubby or I want to send our children to middle school or high school and we can't imagine sending our younger kids to school and keeping the older kids home. I think it would be a real detriment to family unity. Besides, we love homeschooling! Our kids love homeschooling! We are so happy to be together again, learning, playing and working together again.