Alexis, Jack, and Faith attended school on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00-3:30. I clearly remember their first day and how anxious I was to pick them up. They had gone to preschool, but they had been in the same class as each other both years and the longest they were ever in school was four hours. For Kindergarten we decided it would be best to put them in three separate classes which was quite the change for them, and 7.5 hours seemed like an extremely long time to leave my young 5-year-olds. I have to admit, though, that once I got used to the 7.5 hour school day it was great since Graham and I could run errands and do other things in the morning, and then he took a three hour nap in the afternoon so I had some time to work for my job, clean up the house, put dinner in the slow cooker, etc.
Jack had the most difficult time transitioning to his days at school as he was upset from the moment I woke him up. Thankfully, after a few weeks he stopped crying every time I dropped him off, but I still worried about all three of them. During their 7.5 hour school day they only had one recess at lunchtime, which didn't seem like enough to me since my kids were used to playing most of the day. But they all persevered and honestly they never seemed that tired after their long day at school. They also didn't seem bothered by being in separate classes once they got over the initial shock of not being together all day, every day. In fact, I think they all enjoy being apart to some extent as it meant they weren't in constant competition with each other and they were able to build relationships with other kids. On the playground, though, they mostly played together, but they did talk about playing with other kids as well.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays we had a form of homeschool. In reality it was more like extended homework as the lessons were mostly taught on Mondays and Wednesdays during their actual school day, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we did worksheets and written assignments and we reviewed what they learned the previous day. The work on our home days took us between 2-4 hours to complete (a couple of times it took longer).
In theory 2-4 hours of work sounded easy to me, but in practice it was difficult. The assignments were due the next day so we had to do the work on the assigned day. We had up to a week to turn in missed work, but if we fell behind we would have even more work on our next home day, so we never did that. At the beginning of the year we did a little bit of school work in the morning but we saved the bulk of it for the afternoon when Graham was napping. Again, in theory I thought this would work great since I wouldn't have to entertain a toddler while trying to help three kids with their school work, but in practice it was difficult since no one wanted to start school after lunch since they had been having fun playing all morning.
In October I was ready to call it quits, even though I knew this wasn't really an option since we were paying for this school and we had signed a contract. I decided to put a little less pressure on myself and only do the minimum amount of work required to be turned in the next day, which seemed to help a little. During Christmas break, though, I decided that I should just try to do our school work first thing in the morning even though Graham would be around. When I implemented this after Christmas it worked much better for everyone. I still dealt with my fair share of complaints since everyone would rather be playing, but the reward of being able to play was motivating and helped everyone get their work done. Unfortunately, this didn't work out as great for Graham. Some days he would sit at the table with us for awhile and scribble or play with play dough. When the weather was nice he would play in the backyard by himself while we sat at the kitchen table where we could watch him. But many days he had fits and cried and I couldn't figure out what to do to make him calm. It was incredibly stressful trying to help three kids with math and spelling while trying to keep the toddler happy (and make sure he was safe).
Although I believe all three kids had great experiences during their school days as they all had wonderful teachers, there were only 13 kids in each class, and they were in a loving, Christian environment, I believe our home days caused more harm than good. Many days I felt overwhelmed and although we got through the work, it wasn't exactly done with joy. In fact, everyone was tense and there were many tears shed during homeschool days. All three kids had numerous meltdowns at home over things they would never complain about at school, simply because they were more comfortable at home. They also are constantly comparing themselves to each other, which caused extra stress. Because of these things, we've decided to try public school next year.
I will definitely miss knowing exactly what my kids are learning at school since each week we were given the lesson plans for the school days and the home days. I will also miss spending so much time with our kids as they will go from spending 15 hours a week at school to spending 30 hours a week at school. And honestly, public school scares me. Both Micah and I went to public school, but that was in a small town in Michigan many years ago. I do have several friends in ABQ that send their kids to public school that are having good experiences, so that gives me hope, but the world is a big, scary place and sending our kids to public school feels like I'm sending them out into the world. I know that as long as I'm involved in their education everything should be okay, but I can't control what they are exposed to while I'm not there. We keep telling ourselves that we have to give it a try and we can always change schools again, but it's really hard to know what the right thing is to do.