We're homeschool drop-outs!
Some of you may already know that next year, we're putting the kids in "regular" school--on-base elementary for the littles and Catholic for the older two. We feel the kids need the experience and I can use the break.
Drop out #2 happened yesterday. It started with a last week's temper tantrums by our youngest (we suspect a food allergy) and ended with a failed Latin test. It was only Monday and I was already exhausted and hating the thought of going downstairs to the classroom. I found myself thinking, "Who cares about Latin, anyway?!" We'd spent five years in Virginia and had hardly seen anything aside from Kings Dominion--and that's an amusement park!
Even more, I thought about how we'd be ending our school experience: Mom stressed out and yelling about proper semicolon usage, kids thinking they're stupid or lazy because they didn't get a good grade on a test, and an incredible opportunity--living in the center of early American History--unexplored.
And, I thought, the kids actually enjoyed our impromptu short hike along the Fredericksburg battlefield, and we got a new truck with GPS navigation. I didn't have to fear getting lost on the roads; "Tecca" (we named the truck, yes) would tell us where to go.
I pulled the kids into the study and lined them up against the wall. I told them how I hated the way things were going and how I really wanted to have some fun and learn about some new stuff. They agreed they, too, were tired of books and papers and tests. So I gave them the proposition: we'd keep reading Bible, mythology, and history. Liam would continue with reading. Alex and Liam would have flash cards for math facts. Otherwise, we'd learn about something in the area one day, go see it the next and tell Dad about it when we got home. Each child has an assignment--the younger had to give some facts and the older have to give a report (oral or written). But otherwise, the curriculum, the textbooks and the assignments all go out the window.
Given the choice between braving a potentially dull museum and doing a potentially dull worksheet badly (and facing the Wrath of Mom), they chose museums.
We came up with a contract specifying behaviors and penalties as well as perks. Each child read it and agreed to it. I carry a copy with us for reference. (I have to--my memory is that bad!) Today was our first day out: a fact-finding tour. We went to the visitor's center, saw the video on Fredericksburg, got flyers on the attractions and took a carriage tour. Afterward, we explored some shops, had fudge and still made it to religious ed with time to spare. At home, the younger boys told Dad five facts and Amber and Steven gave 3-5 minute oral presentations. Overall, a successful first day.
So we're not only going to stop homeschooling next year, we're pretty much dropped out of homeschooling this year. I'm cringing when I see the unfinished textbooks, but when I think about the kids comparing the prices of antiques, talking about Hugh Mercer and his healing leeches or giving their dad a concise history of Fredericksburg based on a video and a carriage tour, I'm glad we decided to end on a happy note.