Another New Change // Homeschooling

So the next big change that has happened in our family recently is that I started homeschooling my kids. Yes, HOMESCHOOLING! And if you know me, you would know that that is shocking news!

I never ever thought that I would be a homeschool Mom. Never in my wildest dreams. Some of the things I've said in the past is that I'm too impatient, that I need that break from the kids, that it would be too hard, that I want them to have social interaction with other kids, and that it would be too much work and not fun for me at all.

My husband, on the other hand, has brought it up to me several times over the past 3 years. Once I became a flight attendant and we started traveling more, we started having to deal with the absent notes from school every time we traveled, so my husband suggested we just do homeschool instead. That way we could travel freely and be on our own schedule. He loved the idea of homeschooling them around the world and teaching them about different places AT the actual places.

He reminded me of a time when we went to New York and saw a homeschool family teaching their kids the history of the Statue of Liberty AT the Statue of Liberty, and something about that experience just really struck a chord in him. He really loved seeing that and thought how awesome that would be for us to do that with our own kids someday.

Mind you, at the time, we only had two young babies, traditional jobs and life without flight benefits. However, two years later (when we now had flight benefits) he reminded me of this memory and I thought, yeah, that would be really nice, I would love that too. But homeschooling? Me? No ways! No matter how nice he tried to make it sound all those many times, I still wasn't convinced that I could or wanted to do that. Was I torn a little? Sure. But it still wasn't enough for me to take the plunge. Not only that, but he was still in a traditional 9-5 (or 7-3), whatever it was, so even though it sounded nice, I wasn't even sure how it would really work. Like how much "school traveling" would we actually be able to get in with him having a work schedule like that? So again, I just wasn't convinced and always turned the idea down (although a part of me really did like it). 

So why now? Well the difference between then and now is that there became a NEED for it. And that is what made the difference; that is what made me finally take the plunge.

So my husband and I noticed that our daughter was starting to struggle in school. Homework was getting harder and harder for her and started taking way longer than we thought it should. She would also whine and/or cry almost daily as we would work on it together. So, of course, when parent-teacher conference rolled around we weren’t surprised to hear that she was struggling in certain areas in school.

As we learned of and noticed these struggles, we made necessary changes as we saw fit (like no more playing outside during the school week, like having her spend two additional hours after school doing extra work with me, etc.). I actually originally told her that I was going to take her out of her sports and extra-curricular activities, but upon seeing her reaction to that decided to give her the choice. So we gave her the option to either quit her extra-curricular activities or to give up playing outside with her friends.

She chose the latter. She was loving her basketball, volleyball, and dancing way too much to quit, so she gave up playing instead. And it was fine....for a while. But one day her neighbor-friends came over asking if she could play. Nothing out of the ordinary though; it was just like any other day. But of course, she knew the answer and told them she couldn’t. However, since my son was already done with his homework (and just inside watching TV), I figured I’d let him go ahead. So he went. But then a few seconds later my daughter broke down crying.

Now normally I wouldn’t care so much about my kids crying over something like that. I’m more of a tough-love kind of Mom, so normally it wouldn’t even be a thing. However, that day in that moment, I felt something different. I felt sadness, I felt defeated, I felt bad. I felt a rush of different emotions and before you know it, I was crying too. 

I just felt so bad for her and after a few minutes of that I said, that’s it! Enough’s enough. I put the papers away, held her, and told her we were going to do something about this; that we would figure something out. Then I wiped her tears, gave her a hug, and told her to go out and play.

And then I cried some more.

I felt so helpless, so sorry, so sad, and even alone too. (My husband was in Texas for work at the time so I literally was alone.) But yeah, as I sat there I just kept thinking to myself, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? So I called my husband and told him what had just happened. He listened and tried to comfort me and agreed that something had to change, but what? What could we do? Of course the topic of homeschool came up and for the first time I was actually considering it.

Then I had the thought to call my friend Sydney. So I did!

To be honest, I really didn’t know the purpose of my call, but I needed someone to talk to and since she had recently started homeschooling herself she was the first person that popped in to my mind. Not to mention, she is one of my best friends so I felt comfortable opening up to her. So I called her and told her what had just happened and what was going on. And of course, she suggested homeschooling as a good alternative. She mentioned that her and her son were having a really good experience with it thus far and also pointed out that not even she was spending as much time teaching her son as I was. 

Like for me, sometimes I’d end up spending upwards to 4 hours after school with her. Every day was different, but it’d be anywhere between 2 and 4, and that was always AFTER a full school day! And my friend said that not even she needed that much time with her son. She said she would spend maybe 2 hours with him (sometimes even less) every morning. I was mind blown. Like what?!! My poor daughter is going to school all day (from 8-2) then coming home and doing another 2-4 hours with me? And your son is barely even having to do 2 in an entire day?!! She then proceeded to explain that that just isn’t necessary because the learning is so personalized. One-on-one learning just requires less time altogether.

So that was when I realized that what we were doing was just too much and not okay. So then I really knew I needed to make a change. I mean what kind of quality of life is that for my daughter? She can’t even go outside and play with her friends for crying out loud....and she’s 7 years old!! 

Anyways, after finding that out and then talking to my husband about it, we felt that homeschooling was something that we should do for her. We felt that she would benefit more from one-on-one attention rather than remain at school trying to learn amongst many other children, all at different levels from her. 

So I got more information from my friend about how to go about homeschooling: the process, what to do next, where to go from here, her recommendations, etc. Then I spent hours that evening looking up everything and reading up on her recommendations. By the end of the night I had the different curriculums ordered. It happened so fast. I had woken up that morning as if it were any other morning and went to bed that night with a huge life change. It felt good, but very scary at the same time. What had I just done? What had I just gotten myself in to? Yikes!

So it’s been about a month now and it has actually been a really good experience so far. I love that I know exactly where my child is at in her learning and I love that even our relationship has improved. I feel even closer to my daughter than I was before. Who would’ve known that would happen? But I guess it makes sense. For all those many hours each day it is just her and I and she has all of my attention for whatever time period I am working with her for. It has been quite beautiful, actually. A pleasant surprise, for sure.

I’ve also loved seeing her flourish. I’ve taken her a step back to make sure she is on the right level she should be at and it has been awesome seeing her thrive. Some things are easy for her and other things are harder for her, but I am making sure she gets her basics down solid before moving on and it has been really great for her.

I guess somewhere along the way (in first grade specifically and unbeknownst to us), she fell through the cracks, and that is what has been causing her to struggle in certain areas in second grade. So taking her back to get these basics down has been everything. She needs to feel smart and capable again and that is what has been happening since we started homeschooling.

Something I haven’t touched on yet is my son, Tristan. At first I wasn't sure if I should keep him in or pull him out as well, but since he was asking to be homeschooled too and since we didn't want to be restricted to a school schedule (which would effect us being able to travel freely), it didn't take us long to make a decision on that. Especially since my husband, Spencer, is no longer in a "9-5" anymore. It seriously would've been dumb to keep him on a schedule when the rest of us aren't on one (at least not a traditional one).

Not only that, but my Tristan is in a bit of an opposite situation, where he is one of the brightest in his class. School comes very naturally and easy for him and he is so so smart. He loves school and learning and he has the biggest imagination. He is also the oldest in his class (because of the new age cut off rules) and he gets bored sometimes. He is always saying how school and homework is so "easy," so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for me to pull him out and give him more of a challenge. I’ve actually moved him up a grade, so it's actually been working out good for the both of them. They both win this way.

As for me? Well I am drained to the max by the end of every day. My regular morning routines have been completely taken away from me, I have what feels like no free time anymore. No time to take a nap when the baby naps anymore. No time to watch my shows anymore. No time to hardly even eat or cook a good meal. So this is definitely a new phase and transition for me, but I am figuring it out as we go. I'm sure I'll get a new routine figured out soon enough though, right?

When people ask me how I am doing it I honestly don't even know what to say. All I know is that somehow I am. Most times I look like a hot mess though. It is so not cute, but sometimes we are forced in to roles we didn't want or know we could do, but we somehow just do it; we figure it out. I feel like we, as women, have no other choice BUT to figure it out.  

So yeah, there it is, people! That is WHY we are doing this.

Also, things aren't always as they seem, are they? Contrary to popular belief, our homeschooling venture ended up being a lot more than just an excuse to travel as a family. But don't worry, I am not offended by anyone that has said that to me or to anyone that has thought it. Haha! In fact, what else were you supposed to think when that's what you see? But I think there is a good lesson that can be learned from this example, and that is for each of us to realize that everyone has and is going through their own battles. Just because we don't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there. We each have things that we are dealing with or struggling with in our own personal lives. So maybe, just maybe, the next time a less than nice thought starts creeping in to our minds about someone, or the next time we can feel ourselves starting to judge another person for who knows what, let's just try to be kind instead. Because as I mentioned above, things aren't always as they seem. :)

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
— Unknown

In this day and age, social media is what consumes a lot of our time and is what is responsible for a lot of what we see. There are definitely pros and cons to it and I don't want to get in to what those are at this moment, I just simply want to point out that we need to be careful with it and remember that just because someone has a perfect instagram feed, doesn't mean their life is perfect. No ones life is perfect.

I will admit, I am one of those that takes pride in how aesthetically pleasing my feed looks, but I personally don't think there is anything wrong with that. We should be sharing the joys of our life with our friends and family. We should hope to inspire others. We should share what we believe in. We need to be spreading as much positivity and light in to the world as we possibly can. The world has enough darkness, we don't need to add to it. And I mean, I don't know about you, but I really don't like reading or seeing negative posts. Does reading a "negative nancy" post from someone bring me joy? Does hearing someone complain about this and that serve me? No, it doesn't actually. So why would I, myself, do that to others? I do, however, appreciate real and vulnerable posts and I think a lot of people like that as well (thus my attempt at that). It's not the easiest thing to do, but it's real life and it only seems fair to show some of the "real life" that comes along with all of our many joys and “ups” in this life.

Okay sorry, didn’t mean to ramble. Just wanted to share a few of my thoughts on that, but stay tuned for more posts on our homeschool journey and please reach out to me if you have any specific questions or any recommendations you'd like to share. I'd love to hear it! Also feel free to check out a few clips from our first homeschool field trip last month (link below). Because as you may have guessed, one of the biggest perks to this has been making my husband’s travel dream for his children come true. We’ve been taking them on some “world school” field trips and they have been amazing, to say the least. There is literally no better way to learn than out in the world. The world is the best classroom. So without further ado, clips from their first field trip.

And as a side note: I just wanted to make sure that I mention that I have nothing against public schools. I loved my public school experience and I especially love public schools in our community. There are certain things about it that are priceless and make living in expensive Hawaii well worth it. Like the Christmas Program, the Turkey Trots, May Days, etc. Those are experiences that nothing can replace.

I also wanted to mention that I have nothing against the Elementary School that my kids have attended or their teachers. I think, if anything, I just wasn't aware of the severity of my child's specific situation soon enough. However, I take equal responsibility for that; for not paying closer attention, for not engaging with the teachers enough, for not asking questions. But I'm trying not to be too hard on myself because I think being a first time Mom you just don't know about these things. You don't know what to do, what questions to ask, how to challenge the teachers, etc. (At least I didn't know to do that.) And maybe not everyone has to do that, but I know now for us, that we're going to have to. I'm going to have to be very involved and engaged once my kids do go back to public school and I'm okay with that. I just wish I did it sooner, BUT there is no use in crying over spilled milk now is there? But at least I know now for the future. :) But yes, still love public school, homeschool is just what our child and family needed at this time.

And as far as I can see, I only plan on homeschooling the rest of this year and the next full school year as well. Who knows how it’ll actually pan out, but that is what I am planning as of now. Love all around! :) Xo!