My original plan for homeschooling was to educate my kids with a top notch homeschool experience so they would be able to go where they wanted for college. I thought if I set up a great plan they may have a chance to attend an elite school. I also thought my kids would stand a chance at my husband's alma mater, now a top rated elite university with a very highly rated business school (which my husband attended).
The early years of homeschooling were great, the kids were compliant and were eager learners. I kept things light and fun yet they did great things and the things they learned were of high quality. My kids honestly don't think they know much but in casual conversation they can talk about topics which they think every kids knows but which shock adults. In my son's chemistry class this fall the teacher asked about a topic not yet discussed in class or in the text and my son answered and she was shocked and asked where he learned that. He learned it at MIT ESP Splash in an enjoyable class which he barely took notes on (and of course was never tested on and has no standardized test to prove he knows it). He remembered it more than a year later. My older son has also won some academic awards which I feel lend some credibility to the quality of his home education.
I don't blow sunshine up my kid's butts about their abilities. Honestly I don't really know how they stack up to other kids except the limited exposure I have to talking with other kids, but most kids are not even open to talking to an adult. I try to get information from some parents but most say they don't even know what their kids do in school, they just know the grades.
Sadly recently it has come to light that one son (with past LDs) thinks he is stupid (in every subject area) and the younger thinks he is just average. They also think we are living in the poverty income level, which is not true. We have kept our income level private as we don't feel it is something kids should know about, it's too personal and it's not something we want them discussing with their peers. We don't want them forming opinions about people in X income bracket are ___ and people in Y income bracket are ___. With that said I don't know how kids and teens form their perception of self and do not know why my kids don't know they have a great life compared to other kids.
It seems the college admissions criteria gets harder and harder and to be honest I don't know if either of my kids could ever get into my husband's alma mater. And I am starting to really not care.
The price of college is rising and rising and to be honest my husband and I are unsure if we are willing to pay that high a fee. Is it reasonable to spend $50K, $56K, $58K on one year's education? I don't think so. The second issue is, are we able to afford it? Having lived with no job then underemployment doesn't show up well on the financial aid forms because they don't ask those kinds of questions. The government thinks we're loaded but we can't pay for private college for one year for one kid on this income. Something is wrong with this picture. The colleges look at last year's income only and they have no clue about the last ten years and the roller coaster we've ridden financially. They don't know we lost two year's income on the sale of our house which we had to leave to move here so my husband could take this job. They don't know that the move cost $30K and how much we paid on a small rental plus the old mortgage and the property taxes in a vacant house. We don't want our kids graduating with ridiculously high student loans which equal many times their potential first year job's salary because we could not afford over $200K per child for college tuition.
Although my husband and I seemed to favor private colleges before, we are now opening our minds to state college. Dual credit is seeming better and better, especially since Texas has a generous policy that state colleges must accept all credits earned at accredited community colleges.
Suddenly "good enough" is seeming better than seeking "the best".
Most of all I want my kids in a college that is a good fit. I do not want them in a college that is too rigorous where they wind up depressed or suicidal. I want the academic load to be appropriate for their ability and a balance state of mind. If they want to do a college sport and are accepted on a team then that narrows the selection pool. If they need or want small classes we will look for that. If they want a giant state school we have options for those. If they want to go back to where it snows and rains and is cold and blustery they can do so, but to be honest they like these Texas winters where it is rarely in the 50s and is often in the 70s. Sun every day is fantastic for one's serotonin levels...
I always wanted our homeschool to prepare our kids for what they wanted to do with their career and to prepare for college if their plans required a college degree. I now want the best FIT for my kids not bragging rights or a brand name school to boost my own ego. I want my kids to thrive not just survive. I want my kids to feel they fit in, not that they are struggling and incapable.
Homeschooling is getting so hard now that I have two strong willed sons in grades 10 and 7. I no longer feel the need to be some kind of activist for homeschooling (which is why I currently hold no volunteer position in my local homeschool community). I also feel completely alone in this community because I have not been able to find like-minded homeschooling parents in my new area. Maybe this lack of support and encouragement is leading to my negativity about homeschooling. I no longer want to have my kids be poster kids for homeschooling. They are flawed as I am. I am feeling less and less capable and I am far from a perfect homeschooling mom. I am trying my best but maybe my best is not as good as I thought it could be.
Lately I have thought about quitting blogging as I worry that my blog is getting too negative or sounding to worrisome. However I am so stressed out and harried lately that I am not sure if I am confusing the negative thoughts and worries in my head with what I actually publish on the blog. Re-reading published posts is hard because I can read between my own lines to see something harsher or more negative about what I was thinking versus what readers may interpret. I have left more than a few blog posts unpublished due to them being either too negative or too personal.
I want my kids to have a decent education and I am also not sure if homeschooling is providing that. The family dynamics, the power struggles, and the battles are becoming too overwhelming. I am not sure that for my own physical and mental health that I should continue homeschooling. I am making some decisions over Christmas break, one or both may land in public school in January. If we do homeschool for the rest of this year I am very open to using school for fall of 2013 should that be the better choice for one or both of my kids.
I think I am burned out of homeschooling and life in general. I need a vacation but there is no vacation on the horizon, because all the extra money has gone to pay for out of pocket medical bills and educational supplies, tutor fees, and outsourced homeschool classes, and the move. And really both my husband and I could use new vehicles which I don't think we can afford.
Related Post from my archives: Teen Slacker Mentality and Phony Homeschool Moms