My 6th grade son, Crew, starting asking me back in December if he could come home again for homeschool. (He opted to go to back to public school last Fall.)
At first I didn’t even consider his request because, I ain’t going to lie, having him gone was sometimes easier than having him home. I kind of like my space and my quiet and my freedom. But as time went on, I warmed up to the idea of him coming home. My mind started to process all that we could do together again. Ideas started to flow and I could see myself bringing him home.
My daughter, who is currently homeschooled, even came up to me and said, “Mom, if Crew comes home we could read this book together!” She was starting to see how it could work as well. We both were feeling the enabling power of the Holy Ghost.
Crew also helped his case by saying things like, “I’ll appreciate so much more what I have this time around,” and “I’ll work harder,” and “We waste so much time at school.”
I’m sure what he really wanted to say was “I want to sleep in longer,” and “I want big breakfasts again,” and “The bus ride is too long,” but he knew what arguments would convince me more.
As I softened toward the idea, I told Crew he would have to stick out public school until the end of the first semester which wasn’t until the end of January.
I prayed about the decision and went to the temple and felt good about Crew coming home part-time.
And, let’s be honest, when your friends-driven, pop-culture obsessed, where-can-I-go-and-what-can-I-do, 11-year old boy asks to spend more time at home with you, it’s hard to find a good enough reason to say no.
But I also decided to take advantage of his desperation. I offered to let him come home if he would agree to seven school requirements, in addition to regular school work, without argument or negotiation:
1. Part-Time Public School- Crew wanted to still take math at school and I wanted him to take writing. So we talked with the principal and worked it out for Crew to go to school for two periods a day. He goes in the afternoon. We have nice mornings together; he gets all his work done and then just about the time he starts to get bored, he gets to head to school for a change of scenery. These two periods a day keep him connected with peers, teachers and how a formal classroom runs- not to mention a reason to put a shirt on and brush his teeth.
2. Family Newsletter- My homeschooled kids have done a family newsletter once a month for my husband’s side of the family off and on for a few years. This is my favorite homeschool project ever. First, the newsletter gives them a responsibility and deadline to an audience other than me. Second the monthly project also teaches computer, communication, editing, and graphic design skills. And lastly, the newsletter is a great way to stay connected as a family. Crew publishes it the first Sunday of each month. You can see an example of his newsletter here.
3. Morning Yoga- Crew is a kid that can hit a baseball coming in at 65 mph over a 230 foot fence, but he can’t touch his toes, or hold his legs up in the air, or do a plank for longer than thirty seconds. Although yoga helps with flexibility, it also helps with balance, strength, and endurance. Plus it is a great stress reliever and mind quieter. What kid couldn’t use some of these skills? So Crew agreed to do yoga with me and his little sister every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. It takes some cajoling, but he gets on his mat three times a week.
4. Cooking – I don’t eat the kind of food my kids want to eat, so if Crew were going to come home, he would have to be in charge of cooking at least one of his meals every day. (I have my hands full with a new eating plan I’m trying out.) He agreed, and I love that he gets practice in real life skills, and I don’t have to be tempted by a cheesy box of noodles. He usually makes food for his sister too, which is an extra bonus. He whipped up this breakfast this morning and even shared his hashbrowns with me.
5. Extra Math– Crew tends to do the bare minimum to get by so I made him agree to do 20 extra minutes of math a day. He still goes to school for his math curriculum, but then we supplement at home with Khan Academy.
6. Personal Scripture Study- With Crew in public school, I missed that I didn’t encourage personal scripture study for him like he did when he was home. We do read For the Strength of Youth together, but being home again, I knew he would have more time for independent study. We talked about various options, but he wanted to just read “The Book of Mormon” straight up. He set the goal to read the book before he turned 12 in May. I helped him print out a 90 Days tracking chart and he hasn’t looked back.
7. Mom’s Meeting- Mom’s Meeting is our group connection for the day. We start off with a quote of the day from 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Brown’s Precepts, then we do our “What Went Well” journal. We work on our memorization focus which is currently the Articles of Faith, and then I end with read aloud.
(P.S. We just finished the book that Croft recommended earlier —The War That Saved My Life. Crew said on the way home from basketball that very day, “Will you please read us the sequel? That was the best book you have ever read me.” I’m so grateful we get to share beautiful, meaningful stories together.)
Crew agreed to all the stipulations and has been home for a few weeks now. He is working harder than he did before, and I’m enjoying him more. Sure, I’m roped in to a game or two of P.I.G. every day, but honestly I can’t think of anything better. I’m glad he’s back home.