Tuesday, October 16, 2007

thinking out loud....

Things are changing for us....

When I first started homeschooling, I had one child, a 6 year old. She was (and is) very social and loves to be busy. We joined a couple of busy homeschool groups and threw ourselves in neck deep. It didn't matter if we were running several days a week. She was only in kindergarten, school took maybe an hour a day at the most, and we could easily fit that in around homeschool co-ops, ballet classes, and church activities.

Here we are, the 6 year old is now 11 years old. She's in 5th grade, and now her school work takes easily three hours a day. We've also added two children to our family in the last three years, 7yo Kain and 3 yo Jack. Oh, and let's not forget Peanut coming in May. We've had to slowly whittle our activities, for my own sanity if nothing else. It's difficult to do. My oldest is still very social and would still love to run every day, all day. But when we run too much, everything else suffers. We have to choose carefully whether any given activity is worth our time. We simply can't do it all anymore.

My newest decision is what to do about our co-op. The kids love it. It's purely social, and they love it, love having lunch with friends, having recess, a yearbook, school pictures, etc. It also exposes them to all kinds of things that I would never teach them. The classes range from fencing, Spanish, knitting, cooking, guitar, etc to just fun PE/recess type classes. But it is expensive, very expensive, in terms of time and/or money. I have been teaching three afternoon classes at the co-op to "earn" their tuition. This is difficult to do with Jack, who is cranky and needing a nap that time of day, and difficult to find time to prepare and plan for during the week at home. And once the baby comes, teaching in the afternoons like this will be impossible. Without my teaching credits, the tuition is a bit pricey...but not as pricey as other lessons and things we have paid for in the past. It's do-able, if we don't do much else. So, I have a couple of options....

Keep attending full time-

Pros are- This is what the kids want, even if it's at the expense of other activities. Also, I use the mornings that they are in class to run errands and get groceries, with one child as opposed to three. It's also kind of become a special time for Jack and me...he gets Mom to himself for a bit. It also provides so much in the way of social contact for Maria, especially as she gets older.

Cons are- The money. The time. Losing a whole day 30 weeks out of the year that we could be using to get schoolwork done, or giving to other worthwhile activities.

Attend a half day instead of a full day-

Pros- They would still get the social aspects of the program. It would be quite a bit cheaper as well, and we would have the morning to get some schoolwork done.

Cons- I would lose that nice morning running around time with Jack.

Ditch the co-op completely, probably to take up karate classes again-

Pros- This would free up that whole day each week again. Probably be the most sanity-saving measure. Karate is in the late afternoons and wouldn't interfere with school time at all.

Cons- Karate for both of the big kids would be even more expensive than the co-op.
And being in a class like that is not the same kind of social fun as the co-op is.

Ok, so that's my thinking out loud for today. I'd love to say this lead me to some sort of epiphany...but not so much.


Kelly said...

You know, if it was me, and I could manage the tuition - I'd keep going the full day and ditch everything else. That one day packs in all the extra curriculars and stuff, and you can use the other 4 days to do the hard core academics. If you ditch all other activities, you have 4 full days to school at home, which is great.

I think the time with you and Jack is precious, and you will NEED that time all the more once the new baby comes! And I think the bigger kids definitely do benefit from activities like the Co-op. [I would LOVE to have something like that near us for my kids!]

But you should definitely stop teaching. :) And rest. :)

Of course, I fully support whatever decision you make and I'm sure it will be the right one!

Entropy said...

Here's my .02. :)

We did the coop one year. We had all the same issues you're having: too much time (you live about as far away as I do from coop don't you?), way too expensive; kids thought it was great.

We quit. It was stressing me out the same way. It was coop or not go on any other field trips the rest of the week. Ugh. I figured the kids could live without it but I dreaded it every week.

Of course, now I'm totally over-doing it on the field trips but I'm just trying to make up for not going on hardly last year b/c of baby.

mel said...

Shoot, I think you live farther away from everything...lol. It takes us about 20 minutes or so to get to the co-op, the travel time isn't bad. I leave half an hour to account for "loading and unloading".

John is supporting the idea of just sending the big kids and not teaching. I have to say, I'm surprised. He doesn't like to spend money on stuff like that. lol. He says I need the downtime. I agree that it's hard to find time to do things at all regularly without all the kids because he works so many evenings and weekends and his schedule changes every week, so I can't say, "Every Saturday morning I can go to Walmart alone and get groceries"...because he works every second or third weekend!

entropy said...

What!? You get to go to WM alone--without kids--alone, all by yourself, like alone? Never do I get to do this but I love it when dh comes with us because it's easier to not have to be totally in charge all the time.

The oldest has been taking a creative writing class at the library in the town where the WM is and I've been having 1 whole hour by myself while she's there (because it's too far to come home and go back). It's really been ... pleasant. :)