Hey, everyone! It’s that time again—my post is up at Kindred Mom. Feel free to click here for the whole thing or read on for a teaser…

“What do we do with Jenna?” I asked my husband on a spontaneous evening walk.

I’ve been homeschooling the oldest since 2016 when she entered kindergarten and her sister was in pre-k. That year went poorly (I started it with a 6-week-old, a 1-year-old, and some Very Intense Curriculum), but we’ve found our rhythm in the years since. 

Lately, she and I are butting heads. While she’s definitely an introvert, she’s the most extroverted of the introverts in our house: she has social needs that I’m simply not cut out to meet. Also, there’s conflict with her 17-months-younger sister Katherine, who has long been my big, physical reactor. At small provocations, she yells, hits, kicks, and throws things. When she gets wound up, I often hold her to protect her, me, and her siblings for half an hour or more. (I refer to this as “disciplinary cuddle time.” She is not amused.) Jenna doesn’t only want my attention; she wants her siblings’ as well, and she frequently gets it by needling Katherine, resulting in a full disruption of everybody’s day. 

We’ve been kicking around the idea of sending her to public school for a little while—we have to change something, and this may help. We live two blocks from the elementary school she would attend, but I hesitate—quitting homeschool feels like defeat. Maybe I’m not good at this and should just give up? Maybe I should stay the course and keep trying? I know this is a privileged choice—keep my kid home or send her to the great public school down the road. These are two decent options. So why does this all feel so heavy?

“I can’t make this decision,” I tell Andrew as we mosey toward home. “It’s too personal and too fraught for me to have any objectivity. I need you to just decide.”

“Okay,” he responds, having listened to me obsess for months, thus being well aware of the pros and cons of each option. “Let’s try public school.”

We start the school year in August with much fear and trepidation. I worry she won’t be ready for the sheer amount of stimulation a classroom entails. I worry her teacher won’t approve of my choice to homeschool her until now and will judge her behavior as she adjusts to a new environment. I worry kids will be mean, or she’ll fall into some soul-deadening pursuit of “cool.” I worry her relationships with me and her siblings will drift apart as she spends hours away from us each day. I worry that I am worrying too much and she’ll pick it up and worry more than she already does.

It works. My worry effectively prevents each of those things from happening. Her teacher is kind and encouraging and very chill. Jenna regularly jabbers on when she gets home about all her friends (an improbable number of whom are named Noah) and the fun she’s had. 

Actually, the biggest struggle comes after the second day. Mrs. Friedrich pulls me aside at pick-up: “Jenna’s having a hard time being quiet when she needs to be listening. I keep reminding her, but she’s still a chatterbox.” She is making friends too enthusiastically. We address the whole “no, really, you have to listen to the teacher and talk to your classmates at appropriate times and volume” and now she’s thriving, both personally and academically.

The biggest wins haven’t been solely Jenna’s, though

Click here to read the rest.

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for KindredMom.com where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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  1. Robin – although clearly not the point of your post, something that caught my attention was that you said you spend some time connecting with Jenna’s heart when she gets home from school. Can you expound on how you do that? What do you do to connect with her heart? I would love to be better at ‘tying heart strings’ (credit to To Train up a Child, I think it was, for that phrase) with some of my kids. Thanks – Robert


    1. Yes! It’s not anything especially structured or anything, but Jenna likes cuddles and quality time, so sitting with her and asking her questions, letting her tell me stories about her day or (last night) stories about various weird dreams she’s had recently… any of that works well for Jenna. With Katherine, listening and affirming is important. Brian and Lilly still connect really well physically with tickle fights and a silly game they play where they run at me on my bed and I shove them down—endless hilarity. I feel like my goal is to apply the five love languages to my kids—both to find the ways that they experience love really effectively and to make sure I’m sort of diversifying my expressions of love. I’m not always great at it, but that’s the aim, anyway.


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