I tried to embrace the winter months. But as I age, I have come to realize that the lack of sunshine gets to me. It's hard to inspire excitement when one is barely able to face the day oneself. By spring, I was feeling like a failure. My seven year old was whiny and not wanting to complete his studies. We were stuck in a rut.
Now I know that standardized testing is a hot debate topic among non-traditional schooling families. I had chosen a local Christian school as our umbrella school rather than registering with the local school system. As a result of that decision, my first grader was subjected to his first round of standardized testing. Parents were allowed to sit in the classroom the day of the test. There was a very small group of moms hovering, ready to help our young. But it turned out that the testing was right on their level and they didn't need any of us to help them over a rough spot. Whew! Got that over with! Oh, but now it's time to wait on the results! Oh dear, what if I fail? I mean, what if my child fails? Who am I kidding?! This is really testing what sort of teacher I am! And so the waiting began.
During all these months of schooling (7 to be exact), I hadn't just idly let my boy's love of learning completely wane. I had begun the process of educating myself. A friend loaned me a wonderful book by Clay and Sally Clarkson Educating the Whole-Hearted Child . That book inspired me to make changes which had the effect of a breath of fresh air! I began looking around for books that would appeal to my children. I discovered another popular curriculum which sold packages that also included school in a box and included many wonderful books. It was very EXPENSIVE for our one income family. I just simply could not afford that huge an investment. So I began to borrow the "read-aloud" book choices from my local public library system. I also discovered the writings of an English school teacher who had lived in the 1800's into the early 1900's, Charlotte Mason. Little did I realize how this woman's teachings would begin to change me and the lives of my little boys.
But believe it or not, in spite of the "fresh air" and my fresher view, I let the stress get to me. I let the doubts of the naysayers in my life get to me. I took my young sons to visit the beloved speech teacher at the now "new and improved" elementary school down the road. (During my first grader's kindergarten year, he and his classmates had the privilege of watching their new, larger school building being built right behind the old building. The year I taught him at home was the first year students met in the new school building.) As we walked through those hallways and smelled the new, and saw the bright, sparkling classrooms, I was impressed with what I saw. Where the older building had seemed dark and crumbly, everything here was fresh and shiny. We walked by the music room and saw a class of young students singing on the risers. "I can't give him that opportunity at home with just his brother and me," I thought to myself. We were warmly welcomed by the speech teacher, the school secretaries, and principal. It already felt a bit like we belonged here. Hmm.
And then the test results came in the mail. They were good, mostly. But I fixated on the little box that told me my precious boy was reading on the level of a first grader in the fourth month of school. Wait! When he tested, he was in his seventh month of first grade! Oh no! I'm messing up! I can't ruin my child! The panic had set in and a new decision was made. He must have a better chance than what I can do for him! He's going back to public school. And his little brother is going to go also!