We finished Year 8 of the Hall Homeschool adventure May 15.
We actually hit several milestones as we finished this school year. It was my first year to school five children, which means I now have my 5th preschool graduate. He knows how to cut and glue and circle and cross out, knows his letters, and is ready to take on the world. Or at least kindergarten.
We also finished the Veritas Press Bible and history curriculum, closing up our five year journey through the Bible with The Closing of the Canon, and our five year journey through history with learning about September 11 and the war in the Middle East. We started these cards when Abigail was in second grade, and Catherine and Elisabeth both joined in as they hit second grade. Now, we start back at the beginning, and Samuel will join in this round. Each child cycles in at second grade and out after sixth grade and will have studied all of the Bible and all of history during those five years. Mom just keeps repeating the cycle until the last kid finishes sixth grade, which means I should know this material pretty well before I’m through!
Both of those milestones are pretty cool, but the biggest milestone this year is the fact that I have finished elementary school with my first child!! When we first started homeschooling Abigail in preschool, everyone asked if we were going to homeschool all the way through or just for elementary. At the time we would say, “Right now we’re planning to go all the way but we’ll see what happens.” And really, that’s still our answer because if God has taught us anything over our almost-fifteen years of marriage, it’s to make plans but hold them loosely. But my goodness! Thinking about finishing elementary school seemed light years away! And now, here we are, at least with the first one.
One of my children is finished with elementary school. That kind of blows my mind. Didn’t we just start?!?
I look back and remember how I thought things would be at this point, but there’s no way I could have even come close to imagining then where we are now. We were in another state, for one thing. That was three moves ago. And let’s see, I had exactly half the number of kids then that I have now. Not sure I would have predicted that.
We had so many dreams and ideals specifically related to the education of our children. And that first year, it was easy.
I was only schooling one child, it took about an hour and a half, and the two other children slept during school. We had plenty of time during the day for laundry and housework and trips up the library for story time. If I needed to go to the store, not only did we have time to do that during the day, but I only had three children to load up, and I lived in a city which means there was a Kroger five minutes away so I didn’t have to factor in a 30-45 minute drive each way.
When I think about how much simpler the logistics were that first year, I realize how easy it was for us to be so idealistic.
Of course we were going to keep up with the curriculum we’d chosen, no matter how rigorous it looked. No problem. And if anyone couldn’t do that, it must be because they were simply lazy and unwilling to put in the effort.
Well, let’s just be honest: Year 8 in reality looked a little different from Year 8 in Year 1’s dreams.
Life happened. We moved three times and every one of them was right in the middle of a school year. Three more babies were born, two of them right in the middle of a school year. Children grew older and stopped taking naps during school time, although they were still too young to do school themselves, which meant I had to figure out how to teach and entertain toddlers simultaneously. Children grew up and graduated into grades that required much more work than could fit into that hour and a half, not to mention schooling two and then three, four and now five children (with one more still waiting in the wings), which meant no more story time at the library or grocery trips or housework during the day.
To put it bluntly, homeschooling got hard. Very hard. So hard this year that many nights found me shedding tears and seriously wondering what on earth was the point?
And no, Abigail has not completed all the curriculum that the catalog said she should have by the end of sixth grade. Math, reading, grammar, Bible, history–she’s up to speed there. Those were the core subjects that I stubbornly clung to, refusing to let them slide even on the craziest days. But music, art, geography, writing, and yes, even that hallmark cornerstone of classical education, Latin–all of these subjects have suffered quite a bit during the chaos of our lives. We started every year with high hopes and a lot of willpower, but many many days found us just barely getting through the bare minimum, and those “extra” subjects just sort of fell by the wayside. She has finished three grade levels of Latin, in five years time, and we’re calling that enough for her.
So no, the Hall Homeschool hasn’t lived up to its own expectations. But you know what? It’s ok. Because sometimes, expectations are based on flawed assumptions. And sometimes, God says, “I’m going to take you down a path you didn’t foresee, and don’t bother to bring those expectations with you on the journey.”
Plans and goals are good and necessary, but they must be held loosely. And when God reveals His plans and they look different from mine, my job is to say “Yes, Lord,” and adjust my expectations.
So, even though my first elementary graduate isn’t exactly where I pictured she’d be, we’re celebrating that we have our first elementary graduate! She works hard, has excelled in all her work, is a gifted writer, reads as well as any adult, is responsible, and we are so proud of her and grateful to be her parents.
And even though the Hall Homeschool doesn’t run as smoothly or accomplish quite as much or function as easily as I pictured once upon a time, we’re celebrating the fact that we’ve completed eight years! I absolutely love being a homeschool mom even though it is extremely hard. I am so thankful that God has given us this path to walk.
So yes, we are planning on homeschooling through middle school and beyond, as long as the Lord lets us continue. And even if things don’t turn out exactly how we plan, we’ll celebrate every milestone along the way.