by Mrs. Smith on June 4, 2017

Aw, I liked this movie lots and lots. The little kid reminds me so much of my younger boys. I feel a rant coming on, ready???
(If you watch the movie first, it’ll make more sense, but you don’t have to.)


Now, I don’t think public school is the devil and I was quite happy with our experience at our local elementary school. Not all children have the sparkle beat out of them. Some of them absolutely thrive there! They do!

But I must make a note about my experience in the 2016-2017 school year.

I’ve noticed that my boys who haven’t been to any public school have a different sparkle/joy than the older kids who have been “socialized.”
This is just my opinion as their mom. It’s possible to the outside world it looks less like “magical Neverland” and more like “wild unrestrained Lost Boys terrorizing the neighborhood.”

To increase the likelihood of everyone’s survival through homeschooling in the future, I’m going with magical. #kiddingnotkidding

My older kids are still sparkly and colorful and charming, don’t get me wrong! They’re creative and intelligent and passionate about their interests. And my younger kids really have NOT learned the highly important skill of learning how to keep their enthusiastic little mouths shut when a grownup is teaching.
So there’s give and take.

But there’s something about education being confined by a clock and being pumped through each kid like they’re on a conveyor belt that just… I don’t know. Seems so limited! So difficult. So hard to tailor and uncomfortable for both the kids and the teachers.

I mean, think about it.

It would be ridiculous to expect every 8 year old to fit into the same size clothes, right? Sure, a great many of them wear “size 8” and it works great — but a great many of them are slim or husky or tall or short or still wearing size 6s or, holy cow, you guys, there are seriously 8 year olds here who look like I did at 13. Not even kidding! Probably wearing size 12s.

Kids grow teeth at different times, learn to crawl and talk and walk at different times… If you’ve had kids, you know all this already. Eventually you learn that what’s perfectly fine for one kid is just different for someone else. And it’s usually just fine. It’s usually not a big huge deal.

I don’t think the growth of the intellect is any different. Why should it be?

Kids grow intellectually at different rates and have inclinations and talents in different things. There are major milestones and patterns and stages, and it’s great to be aware of all that – but each kid will hit them at their own pace. Sometimes no matter how much you push it, they ain’t moving till they’re good and ready!

It’s not a big deal…

until you’re trying to teach 20+ of them the same thing and get them all to score well on the same test in the same amount of time. OH MY GOODNESS, I admire schoolteachers SO MUCH. The System expects all the kids to “wear” 3rd grade brain stuff at the same time — it is stifling for some and impossible for others, and it’s the teachers in the trenches that get to try to make it work.

Sometimes there is something going on that merits special attention, so it’s good to be aware… And sometimes being in a group makes that easier to identify – but it seems like it almost always makes it harder to treat. I fluctuate between thinking of public school as a marvel and wonder and an abomination and a plague. 😉

What was the point of all this? Goodness. Talk about side-tracked!

Color. Sparkle. Light. Joy in their eyes.

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Oh yes. That.

Homeschooling was REALLY hard for me at first, partly because I was so… grey.

All this color and sparkle and bouncing around being carefree and happy and energetic?

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Oh, MAN, I tell you what! How do you control all that… living? How do you keep up with it?! It was torture!!!

No, really. It was. There are no words for that 2-3 month transition period. I thought I was entitled to hours of boring quiet grownup time every day. I thought I needed it. I absolutely believed it was something all moms needed and that this was going to be impossibly difficult. Thank you, American culture, because with all those beliefs firmly rooted, impossibly difficult about summed it up!

I felt like I was losing it. Every. Single. Day.
My poor husband heard me whine about it all the time.

“There’s a REASON not many of my friends here are doing this!!! There’s a REASON they all say, “I don’t know how you do it – I’d go crazy” — because yeah, Honey — THIS IS NOT FUN! What were you thinking???!?!?!!”

Good thing he’s so smitten with me or I bet it would have gotten really old really fast.

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But any time he (or anyone else) would suggest I quit complaining and just stick ’em all in school, I couldn’t do it. The problem wasn’t them. It was me.

Eventually I let go of all that grey and decided color is okay. Maybe I can even enjoy it.

Newsflash: It’s more than okay.


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It’s fun. Maybe not every moment of every day, but it is. I’m seeing them with different eyes now. I can let them squeeze some color into me. It’s okay. The world will keep on turning.

They’re just so stinking joyful! And little!

Well, some of them aren’t so little any more.

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They’re all growing so quickly.

I won’t get this time back. They get bigger and bigger every single day. I want to enjoy every second. I want to see the lights go on in their eyes when they learn new things. I want to occasionally fall apart because there have been too many “Mommy! Mommy!”s all day. I want the satisfaction that comes from climbing that mountain and learning how to do this adult thing without those 6+ hours of them being gone every day.

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Now I am loathe to send all that color and sparkle away for someone else to enjoy. This transformation in me was hard earned and I’m not about to let it go to waste!

I may not do as good a job with some things as public school can, but I consider it almost vital to my own personal growth and development to ride this out. It’s freaking awesome that I even can ride out that kind of wild ride now, because there were so many years where I legit couldn’t.

Even still…

I confess, when I saw the 6th grade graduation and all the awards and stuff the kids earned, I thought about my 6th grader.
He does so well scholastically. He retained so much of his “sparkle” there at that school. He loved it. The draw of unlimited time learning chemistry and programming was too much, so the offer of homeschool pulled him in. His choice. I couldn’t help but wonder…

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Was it really better for him, being home all this year? Really?? When I heard about the kid who got the top math score for their class (because my kid wasn’t there to get it this year) I felt that twinge of regret. I didn’t push him as much as he could have been pushed. I really didn’t. And without the fun competitive-ness, he probably didn’t try as hard at home as he would have in school.

But there’s a boat load of junk that he DIDN’T have to deal with that I’m glad he missed out on.
There’s a lot of great stuff he did at home that he felt ownership over because it was all on his timetable.

When I think about all those times he was the one to squeeze the color into me this year, I think… Dude. You can take all those 6th grade awards and keep ’em. Someday he’ll be 25, earning whatever papers he wants to, and I’ll be super proud of him then. I’ll look back on this 2016-17 year with great fondness, and the color will pop back into me just thinking about it.

Pros and cons. Each kid is different.

This one, for example, chose public school last year because he didn’t want to miss out on some fun field trips, and I think he did great with it.

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Each family is different. For me, every year is different. Who knows? I might be sending them all back to school again someday. Stranger things have happened.

We’ll never know what’s there on the path we didn’t take.
And that’s okay.

Smith Family Final copyWhatever you do, find the joy in it.
Whatever you do, keep your hand in God’s and let Him lead you along. It’ll all work out.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg June 5, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Fantastic observations! I LOVED the film and what it taught. Children are worth our all!


Mrs. Smith September 24, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Yes, they are. 🙂 It’s a great investment – you get so, so much in return!


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