I wrote this on January 25, to an online message board for MAVA, the virtual school in Massachusetts (sorry for the wonky text–it was a literal cut-and-paste job):
We have almost finished our second month and I’m begin to lose my grip. I can
honestly say that I haven’t had a day doing K12 when one of my two kids hasn’t
been weeping over their work at one point or another. I am so tired of the
stomping, the whining, the tears—-
Here is the thing: They are not strangers to school work. We have always done
sit-down math, history, science, grammar, spelling, It wasn’t as scripted as it
is now, but we weren’t totally unschool-y. I don’t make them do the tedious work
and we skip anything “optional” b/c I’d rather they just go and relax/play.
And don’t even get me started on what the heck do I do to keep my 6yo son busy
when I’m locked down in the dining room for the morning and into the afternoon
with the girls.
My kids are generally pretty well behaved and do follow rules. They will do
their work (eventually) but I feel like I’m fighting with them almost all the
time when school is “in session”. It’s almost like a tag team—-one kids will
be a model student while the other is a wreck and then, “POOF!” they switch. I
jokingly said that I’m going to get an ulcer and gray hair from this. Not
jokingly: This isn’t fun.
And, I’m no newbie—this is my 5th year homeschooling! When the girls do their
work without complaint, we have no issues with the program at all.
Would love your advice. Is this unique to my household, or are most of you
finding this to be a fight? Do you reward good behavior or punish the bad?
This, in a nutshell, sums up what life has been like for the past couple of months. (Can you tell how much I wrote this post to myself, as if to pick myself up and cheer myself on?)
What I didn’t include in any of my public statements is that my son had started throwing huge angry tantrums daily, my kids were at each other’s throats most of the time, and I was barely able to make it through the day without having to go sit in the bathroom to cry and question why I couldn’t make this work.
So, this past Friday, I made a decision. We are leaving the virtual school, effective immediately.
We’ll take a week off to regroup and go on field trips (heck, we didn’t even take off “school vacation week”, so I guess we deserve it), and then finish out the school year as regular old homeschoolers.
As soon as I made this decision final in my head, the feeling in our house–in me–changed. I wasn’t running a list of what we needed to finish up over the weekend, mentally ticking off all the ways in which we could do better if only we applied ourselves more.
The kids felt the lightness too: That night, D—our little guy—crawled into bed with me and said, I love you, I love you, I love you over and over again, and then wrote John and I notes: “You are the best Daddy in the world”, “You are the best Mommy in the world”.
I’m not sure what life holds in store for us going forward, but I do know I made the right choice for us right now.
And for everyone who has commented, called, written or even just wished us luck during this decision-making process, thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so fortunate to have you all in my life.
While MAVA wasn’t right for us, I do hope it succeeds in our state. I plan to post more thoughts about the program specifically in the coming weeks since I think some families may be interested to know if it would work for them.