A couple weeks into this journey I hated Co-Op. I dreaded going, and it had only been two or three weeks. The seeming disorganization and chaos was more than I could handle, I wanted to give it up…
But the most important thing to me (and to Jon) was that the boys had a place to work on the social aspects I was worried they would miss by being homeschooled. We had considered a sports team, but they are still a little young for that avenue. I was worried if we homeschooled them they would be…you know….those kind of homeschooled kids.
[...You know, I had the stereotypical image of a homeschooled kid in my mind...it was not pretty...and I was freaked to even consider homeschooling as an option for our boys! But my misconceptions of the homeschooling environment were just that: misconceptions. As a public-school educated kid I knew a few homeschooled kids, and that was all I had to base my views on - so I viewed homeschooling as a non-option for my future and hypothetical family, at the "mature" age of 17. Thankfully, my narrow snapshot of homeschooling has been blown apart, and my eyes opened to the beauty of it all.]
Back to the Co-Op….
Now it has been 7 weeks and I am RELIEVED to say that my impressions, thoughts, and feelings about our Co-Op have made a complete turn around! Not only do the boys enjoy Co-Op, but each week I look forward to talking to the amazing moms I’ve met through this organization. They are normal moms, like me! Of course some moms are not like me – and that doesn’t make them “not normal.” The differences are what I am coming to see as the beauty of the experience. The information and advice is incredible, even if not all of it is right for our family. Just hearing, listening, and learning from moms who have been doing this for years is helpful and interesting.
I think the most eye-opening part of this experience has been the realization that our family is not really living the God-centered life I imagined my family would. We have a lot of reassessing to do in that area. While even some non-Christian familys do homeschool, the main reason most families choose homeschooling is so they have the ability to instill faithful, Godly living in their children. Can a puplic school parent do this – of course (I know, mine did!). But I also think there is something to be said for parents who see the benefits (both Godly and educationally) to be gained from the selfless act of giving up their lives and careers to homeschool their children and help them learn how to come to the full potential God has for them as young adults. Did I not know the full potential God had for me as a public high school school student? No – I knew. It is all laid out in the Bible. But in a large way, being a public school kid set me up for failure. The temptations are innumerable and the pressures (even with “good” friends) are intense and unyielding. So might I think I would have been better off more sheltered? Yes, I do.
But do I think homeschoolers are too sheltered in some ways? Yes, I still kind of do. But I think this is the parent’s choice. And I think as my boys grow and I learn as a parent, my ideas of what is “too sheltered” might change.
(And no matter what anyone says, I still think kids will make their own choices – homeschool or public school, Christan or not, sheltered or not. It is our job as parents to do the best we can to teach them right from wrong and ope and pray they make the right choices when the time comes. And then discipline and correct in a way which teaches and doesn’t alienate.)
…but that doesn’t mean homeschooling isn’t the best option for us. Nor does it mean that just because we homeschool that I can’t put my boys in places where they will be in the world enough to ask me questions about what they hear or see, and for me to give them truthful (even if hard) answers.
I guess my point is that while I am still concerned about my kids becoming too “sheltered” from real life if I homeschool them, I am beginning to see that maybe being “sheltered” isn’t as horrific as my post-public-school-mind thinks. I don’t know. I am not sure I will get all the answers right away.
But I do know one thing – the Co-Op has turned out to be a good choice. The days are long and a bit chaotic feeling (at least to me) but I have come to thrive within the chaos, learn from it, and enjoy it. And I even get to teach areas I am passionate about – and that is a super exciting adventure that I have always know I wanted to have in my life in some way. Of course, I suppose when I begin teaching classes in the New Year it will bring a whole new kind of chaos to Co-Op…but hopefully an enjoyable and rewarding one!