A year ago I was dealing with a total remodel (which means we moved out), a pair of seniors whom I love but were facing both bankruptcy and ill-health, a busy workload and I was losing my mind.

I can’t get health insurance so I have to be very proactive about my own health and after paying for a set of tests to see how I was doing, my doc said my blood pressure was out of control. I knew I was taking a huge risk doing too much. Add to that a fourth grade teacher that really needed to be in therapy rather than the classroom and it was a formula for a complete breakdown.

One year later, we are back home, the elders are on the mend (and I manage their money), and we walked away from the bad school. And oh yeah – we are having a blast!

Why are those kids here?
We have the good fortune to have a very robust home school program through our local school district. As you might expect, it’s not because of the district (not really, they graciously leave us alone), but it’s the direct result of a group of talented people who understand what “support” means when it comes to home school. One of the things they do is plan family activities to bring us together so kids can play and (I am convinced) so mom’s can talk and share ideas. There are a few dads there, but very few on the weekday events.

We went to the pool today where all the kids – from the little ones (Kindergarten) to the big ones (eighth graders) splished, splashed and played. It was awesome. I brought a pile of school work to grade while Katie practiced her underwater handstand. While I was stashing some stuff in the car, a tourist couple walked up to me and asked, “Why aren’t those kids in school? Why are they here?” I smiled and said, “That is school! It’s home school.” They thought that was pretty cool.

At the pool, I was grading Katie’s work (grading is a weird word, I guess reviewing, circling, commenting, questioning), and I got a little thrill. I felt so close to her. For the first time (maybe ever), I was truly understanding how she was thinking and how she made mistakes. I decided not to mark things wrong but rather simply circle them to try to understand why she answered the way she did. When we reviewed her answers later in the day, I found she sometimes goes too fast and doesn’t get the whole question.

In one case, we realized her answer was correct even though it differed from the answer key.

The result was Katie felt way better about her work as she understood why she made the mistakes she made and that she could have a “right” answer even though the book said it was wrong. Very empowering. Overall, I have to say the process is truly powerful and by having us work together to review her work has put us on the same team.