first day of homeschool (2019)

I feel like I shouldn’t be writing “first day” at all, mostly because we didn’t have an official start to the year. I took these pictures back in August, when public school started again. I love looking at these and comparing how much the girls have grown by the end of the following spring, so even if they aren’t technically “first day” photos, they are still “start of the year” photos, and they are so, so valuable to me.

We did school throughout the summer. I gave everyone about four weeks off between May and June, unsure of what our exact school plans would be during this typical “vacation” period. I quickly found that we all work better with structure, and so, we continued on with our studies. We did simplify, which meant working only on language arts and math during the summer months. When August rolled around, we added everything else back in (handwriting, spelling, science, history, and typing).

I cannot believe I have a 2nd grader, a kindergartener, and a preschooler this year. How on earth does time move this quickly? Nella has yet to start any formal lessons, but she has enjoyed having her sisters teach her what they know from time to time.

Because we didn’t take a long summer break, we’re currently taking off every Friday. This leaves a free day for doctor appointments, play dates, more in-depth chores, and unstructured play. Fridays are when we take an extra-deep breath and “just” be a mom and four kids. Fridays feel so simple, but keeping them open this way has been really healthy for all of us.

I sometimes let the heaviness of “doing it all” really weigh on me. It feels like a lot of responsibility, because it absolutely is.

Homeschool has definitely been a huge personal sacrifice.

But you know what?

It has also been a gift of immeasurable proportions. I get to have all my babies home with me, together, every single day. I watch that yellow school bus roll by in the morning, and I’m reminded of how grateful I am that I don’t have to say goodbye to Kaya and Kaelyn for eight full hours. I watch the bonds that all my daughters share, and I am beyond thankful that they’ve had this extra time to cultivate those relationships.

I also get to be there for all of their “ah-ha!” moments, when lessons just start to make sense and suddenly they understand what they’re learning, like truly reading fluently or doing multiplication. I cherish those times.

Sometimes, our school day looks like snuggling up to read books, watching a movie, baking, playing outside, or going to the library. All these things make my heart so full. Those are the days that make it all feel worth it.

Of course, there are days where sisters are fighting, no one wants to do their work, and a toddler is screaming all morning. These are the days that have me doubting everything I’m doing. We are all trying so hard, and I hope that’s what they’ll remember one day when they look back on these years.

Something I’m really trying to master this year is balance. Balance between schoolwork, playtime, housework, and my own “self-care” or hobby time. I’m really hoping I can come back here at the start of summer and say that I learned something significant about balance, but I have a feeling that I might just have to be okay with knowing that I can’t do everything all at once. Sometimes, I’m going to be a little behind in one (or more) of those categories. Maybe finding balance just means I need to find peace with that.We’re already about halfway through this year’s curriculum, and I can’t believe how much these little ladies have grown. Despite the difficult days, I’m thankful for this extra-special added role I have as their mama.