2016, A Brave New School Year

compass-801763_1920As homeschoolers, we have all made a decision to go against the grain. We know what it’s like to question tradition, and forge our own paths. Over the last few years, I have learned that even within the comfortable community of homeschool families, we can find ourselves under enormous amounts of pressure to join up with co-op classes, field trip groups, or organized curriculum communities. Ever since I started this homeschooling journey, I have found myself involved in, and sometimes leading, various co-ops and homeschool groups each year. Each one brought wonderful friends into our lives, and provided many worthwhile learning opportunities for my kids and I.

That having been said, I am forging a new, uncharted path this year. The last two years have been a whirlwind – we welcomed our third baby, we listed and sold a home, built a new home, and moved twice in the process. During one of those years, I had the privilege of running a small at-home co-op with Lisa, the co-author of ‘Sowing In the Morning’. We work well together, and decided to get our kids together every Friday, tackling various subject matter, and alternating the hosting duties. We covered American history and geography, chemistry, the human body, and group presentations, just to name a few. I have wonderful memories of that year, and it was exactly what my kids and I needed at the time. Structure, fun with friends, presentations, and homework were all a part of our “Friday Thing” (we never did come up with an official name for it!)

Last year, I helped form a brand new co-op, which was a wonderful experience. It was a lot of work, but in the midst of the craziness that comes with building a home, those co-op days provided a steady rock in a very stormy, and unpredictable year. We enjoyed spending a whole day each week with some of our closest friends, and we loved all the new friends we made as well. Once again, God had us exactly where we needed to be in that moment, and I will always be grateful for that!

As the school year came to a close in the spring, and we settled into our new home, I finally had a minute to stop and think about what we needed, and where we should be for the 2016/2017 school year. What I ultimately decided was that I needed a year off. I needed a year off from directing, and from outside academic commitments. Let me be clear – there is nothing wrong with being involved in co-ops or other homeschool groups, quite the opposite! I think seeking out fellowship with other homeschoolers is essential to our growth and success as we lead our families on this educational journey. The co-ops and groups I have had the pleasure of being a part of thus far have been transformative, and crucial, but I knew that I needed this next year to be a “reset” year.

So what does my reset year look like? We aren’t officially part of any particular homeschool group or co-op, and we have no outside academic commitments. My two older kids have their music lessons and sports practices, but anything involving academics is being tended to here at home. And you know what? I’m loving it. After a couple of fast-paced years, my kids and I are re-connecting in a way that we desperately needed. We are four weeks into this school year, and I don’t believe we’ve ever had a more solid start, and I am so grateful for the things that are happening in our home right now.

Eliminating something from our school year that has, in previous years, been such a huge portion of our focus, was a scary thing to do. Breaking from the norm is never easy. Moving away from what you’ve always done is never easy. Don’t be afraid to step back, and do what is necessary to regroup your homeschool – even if it feels like a massive departure from what you and your friends have been doing. I love (and desperately need!) the friends I’ve made through homeschool groups, and pulling away from them means I will have to be more intentional in seeking out that oh-so-vital fellowship time, and that’s ok.  I don’t know what we’ll do next year, but I know that this year, we’re right where we need to be.

~ Dominique 

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