Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: I'm not gloating over back to school this year

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm not gloating over back to school this year

Tomorrow marks the first day of school in my home town. Some other schools in the area have been in session a week already. It's hard to believe the summer is over for so many kids. 

Back to school can be a very happy time for homeschoolers. Although we have to deal with some of our favorite attractions, like amusement parks and swimming pools, closing much earlier in the summer than we wish, we do get to enjoy weeks of pleasant weather at the parks, beaches, zoos and museums with practically no crowds after the other families in our towns plunge back into the school year grind.

I'll admit, I have been guilty of gloating a bit over back to school in the past, posting pictures of my kids in the pool having fun in response to the many first day of school pics dotting my Facebook wall and cheerfully announcing how much fun we'd be having at a Not-Back-to-School bash with our homeschooling friends.



But this year, I don't feel like gloating, for several reasons. I wanted to share them with you, and encourage you to join me in praying for the kids who are returning to public school, that they will be safe, that they will be able to learn, and that their spirits will not be broken. And pray for their parents, that if they desire an alternative to their local school, for whatever reason, they will be able to find it. With that said, here are the reasons I am not gloating over back to school this year.

Kids don't control where they go to school


Every year, I read comments from parents on social media along the lines of, "I can't wait for school to start so I can get rid of these kids," and "When does school start? These children are driving me crazy!" As a homeschooling mom who spends every day with her kids, it's easy to scoff at parents who can't last even a few snow days without wanting to pull their hair out. 

You might feel totally justified in gloating about how much fun you're still having with your kids in the face of posts from other parents who can't wait to get rid of theirs. But no matter how badly these parents seem to want to get away from their children, the kids would probably much rather have more time to relax and enjoy life at home. They can't decide for themselves where they will go to school, but they are the ones who have to endure the option that is chosen for them, whatever it is. 

I don't feel like gloating about kids having to go back to school, especially when a significant portion of them hate it there. 

Children miss out on my favorite time of the year


Some of the kids I know and love are headed back to public school this month, and whether they are going back to school eagerly or reluctantly, I know that getting back on that bus now means they will miss my favorite time of year, the weeks at the end of summer and into fall, when the weather is cooling down and the outdoors are calling.

I was unhappy last week because our favorite swimming pool closed for the season. But we still have lots of time left this summer to spend at the creek. And over the next three months, not a week will go by that we won't spend at least one whole day hanging out with friends and enjoying the outdoors as summer turns into fall.  

Those children who are starting back to public school tomorrow will barely have any time to spend outdoors during the week, and many will be swamped with activities on the weekends, too. 

You never know when it might be you


This year, my family endured one of our greatest trials. My husband, an engineer with more than 20 years of experience, faced extended unemployment lasting more than eight months. We'd moved our family back to the small town where I grew up, to be closer to my parents, but this meant there were limited opportunities. Although my husband was willing to take on almost any job, few local businesses would consider hiring him because they knew he'd still be looking for an engineering position elsewhere. 

As the months of unemployment wore on, we were faced with the reality that we'd both have to find full time work locally if we were to have a chance to make ends meet. Just as I began applying for jobs, knowing that having been out of the workplace for nearly 15 years my chances of earning decent pay even with a degree were slim, my husband found a new position. Another week or two, and our kids might have had to enroll in school themselves.

My point is, you just never know, especially in today's economy, when you might find yourself on the other side of the fence. 

It's okay to celebrate, but be nice


It's certainly okay to celebrate homeschooling, and even to celebrate not heading back to school. Our homeschool group usually has a Not-Back-to-School party this time of year, and it's a lot of fun. But be kind and considerate. The mom posting the smiling first day of school pictures on your Facebook wall might be crying on the inside putting her children on the bus, and the kids might be desperately wishing they could stay home by next week.

We're very blessed to be in a position to homeschool our kids. We can celebrate it, and be proud of the choices and sacrifices we make to live this life, but we don't have to gloat. Let's lean toward compassion this year.