Sunday, April 18, 2010

Isolated Homeschooling

I have to admit that I am not dealing well with our transition to isolation. Being suburban born and raised, I felt fairly isolated just living in a small town, and now we are 16 miles away from the nearest small town.

So, I guess it is no surprise that I am having more days where I contemplate putting the girls in public school and getting a job (not that there are any jobs in our area that really appeal to me, anyway). I worry about Eva being so isolated, since she is so social.

Hubby and I have been discussing the public school option for a little while, but when we think about the pros and cons, homeschooling is still winning at the moment. Here's our general thoughts:

Public school pros: Eva would be around more people throughout the week, and would have some playmates other than Charlotte.

Public school cons: Eva would be exposed to more peer pressure, would probably be bored in a lot of classes, she might have to repeat Kindergarten because of the cut off dates (I am hopeful that the school wouldn't give us problems since she is enrolled in Seton, so she would be a transfer, but I just can't guarantee they wouldn't fight me on it), she would be away from home for about 9 hours a day, 5 days a week (so if we take out sleeping hours she would have around 4 hours a day at home, and would probably have homework to do during those hours), she might feel even more isolated come summers and school breaks because she would be missing her school friends.

Homeschooling pros: Eva is doing very well with her school work, she works hard and gets done with her formal school work quickly, she has time to be a kid and play, she is around to play with Charlotte, we can take a day off to travel and can take MIL to her doctor's appointments in the city, she gets to see daddy at lunch time (we aren't seeing much of him this time of year...he won't be home until their bedtime tonight), Our school and sleeping schedules can change with the farming seasons, we can slow down on school work if she is just not getting it, we can speed ahead on things that she gets quickly, she has my (almost) undivided attention.

Homeschooling cons: The girls are home ALL DAY, EVERY DAY and I don't get much of a break, the girs tend to fight with each other as the day wears on, planning school can be very draining, and I can get very frustrated if I can't seem to get a concept across, being a little bit type A, I worry about whether or not we are succeding at school.

So, what do I do to make our lives less isolated? We go to town every Monday for Eva's (private) piano lesson. We also go to town twice a month for storytime at the library, which the girls love (I really wish more moms came to it was so much fun in our old town to see all my friends at the library's weekly story time...but here, most kids are brought by their grandparents/daycare providers...) Eva also goes into town every Wednesday to Relgious Education at church with grandma. I wonder if maybe I am projecting the isolated thing on her, because she seems to get along great wherever we go.

I have contemplated getting her involved in Girl Scouts, but the nearest troop is around 40 miles away. I have contemplated starting a Little Flowers group, but then I'd have to start it...I don't know of any homeschoolers in town with younger kids, and I am pretty sure we are the only Catholic homeschoolers in the area...none at the local church, anyway.

Hubby wonders if we should put her in some sort of organized sport, but those only really exist for little kids in the summer months. I am concerned about how often they would practice and have games...I don't relish the thought of driving to and from town every day of the week, but I might be willing to give it a try.

So, if you have ever homeschooled in an isolated area (or were homeschooled in an isolated area) what are your suggestions for getting through it? I am sure in a couple of years, I'll feel much more at home and have some sort of community feeling...I'm just not sure how to do so in a small town while not sending my girls to the local school.


Christine said...

I may not be isolated, but I do understand trying to balance home time and out and about time. Here are just a few thoughts:
1) Sports for little kids - the YMCA here has rules that they cannot meet more than 3 hours a week including games. So I'd check that - it's not bad - only 1x a week for practice and 1 game generally.
2)I wish we had little flowers, but we don't and I'm also not sure I want to start the group.
3)I'd give it just a couple more months before you decide anything - maybe give it to the end of May and see how you're doing. You've really only been settled a short time
4)How are the public schools in your area? The public schools where we are are bad, but in a couple of towns over they even pray everyday, so if we move out there after our lease is up, I might reconsider. I'm torn between all 3 options - private, public, and should I be homeschooling. I think about this way to much.

Good to see a post from you, and hope it gets easier!

juliecache said...

hi there! got here from kelly's recommendation. With having four kids ages 9 - 15, I would say that you probably would feel isolated no matter where you lived because of the ages of your children, but the landscape enhances that feeling. We home school, and I'll send you a private message later.

juliecache said...

OK, your profile does not show email info. mine is listed under my profile. write to me, i'll write back

Jennifer said...

I was homeschooled back when in the eighties. Way back when no one else was doing it, and didn't even know what it was. That was isolating in a different way. I had some opportunities (it sounds like around the same number) as your daughter, and I was content. There are positives to having more time with your family. Your family becomes stronger, and you are closer than you would be otherwise. That is a lifelong gift. Also, you get to know yourself pretty well.

For the sibling rivalry. I have three kids, two are sisters very close in age. I find that having "centers" ready to go really helps out. We also institute a "quiet time" in the afternoons where each sister grabs a book and heads to a different room (even if they object) to have some alone time. Having that short break from each other really makes the sibling relationship a little smoother.

Pamela said...

Finding community in a new place can take time- I can empathize. It was worth it for us to take the time to find our circle of families and activities for us though.
The time together and to follow our own interests, the time for the kids to just be kids, and the ongoing strong relationships with each other are some of the biggest benefits of homeschooling for our family.
I think siblings just bicker sometimes- and going to school doesn't stop it- getting out of the house both together or separately- can help. Take a nature hike, explore etc.
While school may have put my kids into an instant group of other people, it would also have structured most of their waking hours to be spent away from each other and their parents and on activities without regards to their own interests.
I work part time, but I would think that being a stay at home mom with no kids home would be REALLY isolating.
No solution is perfect all the time, but hang in there- you'll find what works for your family.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Another Kelly referral here. Born and raised in Chicago, I had small-town shock when I moved to Denver, CO as a 28 year old. Two years later my husband and newborn son and I moved to small-town Iowa. I was completely lost in my new environment. The good news it was temporary. A long temporary. But not permanent, thanks be to God. We have four children so far, the oldest being 8. We began homeschooling when our oldest was 4. For me, the crushing isolation started to dissipate when my oldest reached about age 6. There are more activity offerings for children as they get older. And therefore, more opportunities to test-drive friendships with other families. When it comes to building your social circle, be patient. There are like-minded families in every community, it just takes more time than you'd like to find them. Limiting your choices to homeschooling families may do just that, limit you. In my community, we are one of two Catholic homeschooling families. Adjusting to country life took every ounce of grace God sent. I am such a better mom for it. As for driving to town...It quit feeling like a nuisance once I accepted daily town-tripping as a price of admission for the privacy and fun that our acreage affords us. Please feel free to email me privately. Kelly can put you in touch with me. Peace, Marilyn

Carol J. Alexander said...

We live 5 miles from the nearest small town...not as far as you...but we still do not go to town more than weekly. If you do not project a feeling of isolation and aloneless on your daughters than they will not feel it. Sounds to me like you get out quite a bit. Also, don't forget about the great outdoors. EVERY day, rain or shine, get the girls outside and explore. And to tide you over until you do make some friends (but not as a replacement) you can connect with others online.
Blessings to you,

wendy young said...

Hi, I feel your pain. I homeschool my seven year old in a very small "bush" village in Alaska. There are no other homeschooled kids her age (there are a few highschoolers). I worked it out with the school so that my daughter could attend two hours a day. She goes for "rotationals" this means music, gym, Inupiaq language, and library on alternative days. She then stays for lunch and recess and then comes home. It breaks up our day and she gets to go spend some time out with other kids. The school here has been great, I don't know what they will be like where you are but don't write them off. They might be able to really help and you still get to be the "teacher" for the majority of the subjects.
You can email me if you have any other questions.