I spent 7 years before my boys were born teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District. There were so many challenges and so many joys in it. I met some amazing fellow educators committed to the lives and minds of those who come through their classrooms. I also came face to face time and again with limits of what I and others could do in the lives of the students, no matter how hard we worked or how committed we were. I taught middle school, and while I loved that age and the subject matter (math), it was really hard for this introvert to filter around 180 students through my room in a day, having each of them for less than an hour a day! The more scripted the curriculum became and the less freedom there was to really be creative and use my skills and insights as their teacher to adjust to what they needed, the more draining it felt.
Since I left teaching the year before my son was born, people have often asked me if I miss it, and it was always hard to answer that question. I very much missed the idea of what I wanted teaching to be, but the gap between that and the reality was one that made me feel constantly dissatisfied, discouraged, and drained.
This isn't a comment on public schools. That is another debate for another time and place. This is about an unexpected blessing and delight in my journey as mom and educator. I never expected to homeschool for many reasons, though as the time was drawing closer for my oldest to enter school, figuring out good school choices felt daunting. Right at the start of this school year (with my oldest just turning 4), we arrived in Bhaisepati, Kathmandu, Nepal. I had decided that, for the time being, I would homeschool the boys. My oldest is just at preschool age. With an August birthday, it might even be two school years before he would start kindergarten in the States. My youngest isn't yet 2. So, even the term "homeschooling" seems funny to me, as I never went to any sort of "school" until kindergarten. There is a good international school not terribly far from us, and I have had in the back of my mind that once my youngest is school age here, perhaps I would teach there in exchange for some of the tuition for the boys to attend there. I don't know what will come next or how long we'll do this homeschool thing. What I do know is what is right now, and that is that teaching my boys here in our home is a huge blessing and so much fun for me and has rekindled my love of teaching!
Obviously, the more important question is whether this is good for my kids, and for now, it seems to be really good. The oldest is loving school and loving learning and needs a transition point before jumping into something bigger in such a new and different place, I believe. The little one is wanting to do what he sees big brother doing and wants to do school, too! :) We are able to use the things they are interested in as vehicles for learning, and we can adapt easily to what they need to work on.
I don't know how long this will be a good plan for my boys, but I just know that I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to do it now, and I'm realizing that, selfishly, this is an amazing fit for how I use my time and energy and passions! I love learning, and I love teaching. I have two boys to guide through exploring and learning and foster an excitement for learning and a curiosity and wonder for the world around them. Two. That is an introvert's dream. Heck, I could take 5 or 6 and still be well within my "zone." I love being able to be creative and decide on interesting ways to meet our goals. I love searching and thinking and planning. I get so excited as I put together our plans for the day or week. I love to see them enjoying learning and thirsty for more! I love the ability to adapt and spend more time or less time on what is working or not working or what is connecting with them or not. I love being able to share my passion for learning with these two precious boys who are totally different from each other in ways that connect with both of them, and I just feel so privileged, for as long as it lasts, to be able to be the one guiding them through this stage of their education and watching them develop into what will hopefully be life-long learners!
Because I'm enjoying this so much, I've decided to start a separate blog to try to record at least a few highlights of our journey with school here. I find and use and adapt a lot of stuff from a lot of other people who are a lot more creative than I am, so there may not be much original material in the way of the activities, but I for one am enjoying the journey of our teaching and learning at home here and the ways that living in a place far from what we've known as home are affecting that, so here is a start at sharing a bit of that: