Our back-to-school date is always September 1. It’s the magic time when all video game playing ceases and Harry gets back on the Hogwarts Express. Magic, I tell you, because my kids automatically know that it’s time to hit the books. This year will be a little bit different.
We decided during registration that Zack would benefit from going to public school full time. Playing cello in the Varsity Orchestra and participating in UIL competitions would be uncomplicated if he were fully enrolled. He expressed an interest in running track and I was pretty sure that all the sports competitions are UIL. The athletics class begins with football and track comes later, but he decided to try football also. We sent him to a four-day camp at the beginning of August and he got a brutal introduction to the world of sports in the heat of Texas. (He threw up on the first day and one of the coaches told him not to do that on the field, but to go “over there” and do it. He didn’t really want to return, but I had already told him not to judge his experience from the first day. He made it through the camp and ended up liking football.) When I asked the counselor what it would take to enroll Zack full-time, she said, “Let me go and find out.” We were sitting in the lobby for quite a while when she finally returned and said, “OK. He’s fully enrolled.” I was a little taken aback because I had not asked her to enroll him, but decided to just go with it because we were there to sign up for football and I couldn’t sign the forms and get a uniform for Zack unless he was a full-time student. Long story, short, Zack reports that he no longer feels sick and his helmet doesn’t hurt his head as much anymore (this after two weeks of school). His favorite classes are Orchestra, Math and Reading Strategies. I can tell you that we hit the ground running with this kid and we haven’t stopped… just as I suspected, he has not felt the stress of it in the least. He is well suited for this constant changing and running ragged.
The first week of public school, Sarah started her first year of Seminary–at 5:40 am (!!)–and continued with band at the high school as a part-time student. We began to consider whether or not she would benefit from attending full-time. It would be good for her to be able to compete in UIL competitions and get to display the skills she worked so hard for. The seriousness of the high school band, the commitment and dedication needed, first brought to my mind that I should consider a public high school experience for her. Plus, I could not see myself devoting much time for homeschooling the two youngest if I was driving her back and forth from seminary and back and forth from school and back and forth for after school practices. Wayyyy too much driving. Sarah didn’t want to at first, but wanted to wait until next year. I told her that if she had any desire to go to high school, she should start at the beginning of the high school curriculum. I emailed her counselor and the reply confirmed my thoughts. I gave Sarah and us (Josh and me) a week to pray, ponder, and pro/con list the idea of her returning. At the end of the week, we all felt good about it. Sarah was enrolled that Friday afternoon with a phone call from the counselor later that day asking us to come in for her full schedule on Monday morning.
Something I love about her schedule is that she is the only girl in her Architecture class. Her teacher seems really on the ball and his website is the most developed out of any I’ve seen so far. Sarah thoroughly enjoyed her first week doing something she actually shows some passion about. Architecture was a spur-of-the-moment choice while on the phone with her counselor. All the options for Sarah to choose just one more elective didn’t sound interesting to her. I was surprised when Sarah chose it. It’s moments like these that make me feel like we have discovered/uncovered a bit more of who she will become.
Another pleasant surprise is that she chose French. I had no idea she wanted to learn French and it has been fun busting out my limited knowledge from when I took French in high school. She also has English Pre-AP, Symphonic I Band (with the option to move up to Wind Symphonic if she works hard), Biology Pre-AP and World Geography Pre-AP. Her math class on the first day was Algebra I, but Sarah insisted that it was way too easy, so we asked for her to move to Geometry. The counselor asked for some paperwork and went ahead and changed her schedule on the second day, but Sarah had a doctor appointment and missed it that day. She would eventually have to take an exam and pass with a 70% or above in order to get credit for Algebra I, but it takes a while for the test request to be filled. Sarah has been to the Geometry class twice and has been lost both times. The class was taught by a substitute teacher who apparently did not give any instruction at all. The counselor asked us to talk about it over the weekend and then see how we feel on Tuesday. I think it would be best for her to go back to Algebra I even though most of it will be review. She has a lot of other Pre-AP classes and not a lot of time between band practice and bedtime.
With two in and two out, I have already noticed a difference in the household. Family scripture study is a lot easier to hold when everyone is present. Hopefully, the last two years will stick out in my children’s brains as a time of less stress and more abundance of the Spirit in the home. I’m hoping for Zack to rely on his new priesthood responsibilities as an extra layer of protection while out in the world. Things are so busy all the time, perhaps they will appreciate more the last two years. I miss them a lot and marvel at how little time I have with them now, but ultimately, I think this is a good thing for our family at this time.
As of now, I have no intention of returning Seth to public school or letting Zoe go. In the past, I entertained the idea that Kindergarten would be good for her, but I have since learned that my favorite teacher has retired, so I’m reluctant to let her enter the system. I am excited to devote more time to my younger ones at home. Seth is way more excited this year just from the first two days (which I will blog next with pictures). It seems that each new year of homeschool will be nothing like the last.
My days are still full. I have my day job. I have my church calling. I have my two younger ones to educate at home. I have driving to Seminary and football practices in the mornings and picking up from orchestra sectionals and band practices in the afternoon. There’s homework assignments and tests to make up (for Sarah since she technically missed the first week of school). So far, I have bus chaperoned for two Fridays at football games for the band with the promise of middle school games to start this week. I have to remember not to schedule anything on Thursday mornings because the two older ones have a late start on school. My brain cells have had to adjust to the new schooling demands.