Monday, August 24, 2015

The Heart of Homeschooling

As we enter into our sixth year of homeschooling, I am amazed at how much has changed.  I began this journey with 4 kids, ages 3-10.  Life was busy and anticipation was building as we prepared to bring home our fifth child.  We dove in excitedly but I often had to remind myself that, even though I felt like I had just put on someone else' shoes, God had been clear in His calling.  We did it, all of us, for five years.

But, as you know, the dynamics of our family began to dictate a reevaluation of this decision.  Was it still right for everyone?  As much as I wanted everyone to LOVE homeschooling and work together as one sweet, happy family that was no longer the case.  After much research and prayer (and prayer and research!) we decided to allow our two oldest children to go to a local school.  A "brick and mortar" school.

I can now tell you, without a doubt, that we made the right decision.  Praise. God.

We all just finished our second week.  I have had off-handed comments from other moms about our decision. Yes, the schedule is hard.  Yes, we don't love waking up at the crack of dawn to be at school by 7:30.  (We are all night owls...every last one!)  But my three still at home are getting started with their daily schooling by 8:00 as a result and finishing up by early afternoon, leaving time for important things like playing before we pick up the teens. And, let me tell you, despite the fear that I haven't prepared them enough or that they might be behind my teens are doing ok.  They are adjusting and happy because THIS IS WHAT THEY WANTED.

And isn't that the heart of homeschooling?  To teach our kids to make good decisions and walk with confidence?  To overcome difficulty and have the initiative to get their butts out of bed and work hard?  To know HOW to learn, when to ask for help, and that there are authority figures beside Mom and Dad who do truly care and will go out of their way to help if you just treat them with kindness and respect and show initiative?  I didn't expect to watch them do this until closer to college, but it is happening now.  Despite the struggles to adjust and tense moments in the car after a long day when they are tired, don't feel like conversation, and still have homework looming, they are determined to do this thing and do it well.  That makes me proud.  I think they are going to thrive.  I think God will have more room to work with me stepping back from the role of teacher and just being their mom.  For us, for now, for these two, this was right.  As with homeschooling, we are taking this year by year.  Life holds no guarantees, so we would be foolish to plan any further ahead.

Homeschoolers do what we do because we believe it is the best thing for our child at any given time.  But we also have to know when it is NOT the best thing.  Sometimes, it is not.  And do you know what makes me especially thankful?  That we have a choice.

Now for my three still at my mercy in my classroom, I cannot begin to tell you what an incredible year we are already having!  For the first time, I decided to buy a "all-in-one" curriculum.  We are using Heart of Dakota "Preparing Hearts for His Glory" along with Time 4 Learning Language arts (for the 3rd graders), Spelling-U-See, Handwriting Without Tears and Teaching Textbooks Math.  It has been a JOY to teach this year using HOD's unit studies approach.  My kids are absorbing information like sponges, becoming adept at poetry appreciation, interpreting Scripture, making beautiful works of art, along with copywork and narration that go along with the weekly units.  I feel like this year will be extra sweet for them as I have these hours to pour into them while my teens are happily where they want to be.  Laughter fills our classroom, excitement over the accomplishments of their siblings, and happy playtime ensues at the end of the day when the teens come home and Mom is available to help them with homework if needed.

Yes, the schedule is hard.  But this year, it is right.  I am thankful.  And I hope that, if you are struggling with deciding what to do for your children regarding their education or, really, anything that you will be encouraged.  There is no one right decision.  Every kid is so different.  Let God show you what is best for them now, today, and be willing to accept if it looks different that what you expected.  Sometimes different is better!

And coffee.

Definitely coffee.