A Year in the Life of a Homeschooling Family: Day 31

Sometimes, homeschooling is not so much about the schooling as it is about the discussions, decisions and compromises which make up the day. This morning was one of those times. Charlotte wants to go to school to do her A Levels. This is no surprise to me, and I absolutely think it is the best thing for her. She needs something more socially and intellectually than we are able to provide at home, and she needs to begin to flap those wings of hers towards independence. She is so ready.

Problem is, she has been ill for the past thirteen months! Whilst we insisted that Charlotte got out of bed, did chores and continued with her school work, we did subtract a few subjects and pushed her final GCSEs back a year. Last year, that was the right decision. This year, she has made a remarkable recovery, and is pretty much back to her normal self. This is fabulous. Honestly. But Charlotte, whose rather strong personality had been dampened somewhat by her illness, is biting at the bit.

Having been held back for the past year, she is raring to go and get on with the important task of wringing every last moment out of her life. I get this. After I had the cancer removed and had come face to face with the possibility of death, I, too, wanted to live as much as I could. I started my blog. I worked so hard to make every day at home as special as possible for my children. Because there is an awareness that comes with ill health. An understanding that how you feel today may not be how you feel next week. Health is not a given. Tomorrow is not a given. Today is all any of us really have. I completely understand what Charlotte is feeling right now.

The problem is, Charlotte has ME, otherwise known as chronic fatigue. We have friends who have had it for years and all of them control what they do to prevent a crash. I needed to somehow allow Charlotte her freedom (because to not allow this would destroy her), but to allow it with restraints which were agreeable and beneficial to her.

Parenting is never a one way street. As the child gets older it becomes more and more a two way street, and as they reach adulthood parents need to give way (to continue using the whole street/road analogy) to their child, and let them make more and more of the decisions. This is right and healthy. Sooooo, Charlotte and I have been having daily discussions about finding the right balance for her between her school work (which is of paramount importance if she wants to go to school this September) and her health (which is of paramount importance if she wants to go to school in September).

You see my dilemma.

Over the weekend, we agreed on a few things going forwards. In order for Charlotte to go to school she needs to take Classics, Latin and Maths exams in May. This gives us 12 weeks to complete a three two year courses. Yelp! This is a heavy, heavy work load. Charlotte agreed readily, as I knew she would. This was the hard working part. Charlotte doesn’t have a problem with working hard, it’s the relaxing part she is not so good at. So I had a few requests myself, which we discussed and agreed upon the following: She must be home at 8pm, she must hand her phone in at 8pm and she must relax to an hour of TV and retire to bed at 9pm. These would only apply to Monday to Friday. We did a similar thing with Thomas during his GCSEs and it helped him to pace things healthily.

Charlotte wasn’t delighted at these restrictions, but she understood the need for them to be in place and reluctantly agreed. This was Saturday. Tuesday arrived (just three short days later) and one of her most favourite people in the world came round to hang out whilst her friend’s sister was at youth group with Thomas. Their Dad picked them up at about 930ish. Charlotte had not managed to get all her school work done; she did not hand her phone in at 8; she did not go up to bed at 9 and at 1030 I could hear her and Lil bright-eyed and bushy-tailed chatting in bed. Needless to say, she did not sleep last night.

I know my children really well, and the purpose of all those seemingly arbitrary rules was not to ruin her teen-age life (!) but to help her relax enough before going to bed at 9 so that she would fall immediately to sleep and would therefore be able to work just as hard the next day.

So she and I had a long chat this morning. Charlotte wanted to see her friend. She wanted to be a normal teenager. I felt for her. Of course she wants to be a normal teen and spend time with her friends! But she only has these 12 weeks to help make her dreams come true. They are her dreams, not mine, but I truly want to do all I can to help her reach them.

It is hard to know what to do sometimes, but I need to teach my children that sometimes if they want one thing badly enough, it may mean forfeiting something else for a period. And that’s a good lesson to learn, however challenging at the time.

She went round to my mum’s house for Latin vocab. My mum is just fabulous! I never worry about the children talking to her or sharing with her. She is absolutely on the same page as me and Gary. Today she suggested to Charlotte that she make it an absolute that she does not see friends for the next twelve weeks apart from at the weekend. Her exact words were ‘these exams are too important to you to disregard the need to relax during the week and get the sleep you need to achieve all you want to achieve’. I’m not sure what she said that was different to me, but some how Charlotte was incredibly receptive to her Granny in that moment. She came bouncing back with everything in her mind sorted! Thank God for Granny’s (Mine and Gary’s mums are really very special!)

I guess today’s post is dedicated to Charlotte, my little warrior, who has fought her way back to health, and is seeking to reverse the study deficit obtained during her illness. If anyone can do it, she can. And if any of you think about it, please could you pray that God will protect her from a relapse, and that He blesses every hard decision she makes? Thank you

Just to finish…Lillie worked at the nursery this morning and has spent the afternoon making up her work, carrying out psychological experiments on us all and watching Crash Course Psychology videos on YouTube. Charlotte has worked incredibly hard today, has caught up from yesterday and is currently finishing up her Latin translations for today. The younger ones have completed their work books, listened to me read aloud the Mystery of History lesson on Joseph and read out a piece of fiction called Echo’s Home which is about a cat who befriends Joseph in prison. Together we completed a character study on Joseph and they then made some simple puppets to create their own puppet show rendition of the Life of Joseph.

Not as productive as yesterday school-wise, but I think growth-wise it was just where it was meant to be!

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