Thursday, July 22, 2010

July Jitters

As I'm waiting for a favorite TV show to come on, I started thinking about school starting up again soon. I started brainstorming the other day about potential courses for Brandon now that we will be keeping transcripts. I'm so excited about all the things he is interested in learning about. I can't wait to help him dig in!

After I was brought back down to the reality of actually developing courses, I started to think about how this year is different. About this time in years past, I'd see signs posted on the local school's marquee announcing the dates and times for school registration. As I'd drive by every day, I'd see those dates and think about how they are fast approaching. Is homeschooling really working for us? Is this what God wants from our family right now? Would the kids be better off going to public school? Would I be better off if the kids went to public school?

Every July I'd be plagued with these thoughts. Temptations to stray away from the safe path God had been leading us down. I wish I could say that we never caved in to those temptations. We did, in fact, at times.

But this July is different. This July I can say that God has solidified the conviction within Ed and I to follow this path until we come to the end. I can see the finish line from where we are. God has given me a sudden burst of energy to press on and complete the race He has set before me. I know He is faithful to complete the work He has started--not only in our homeschooling endeavors, but also in me.

Thinking of my friends who are new to homeschooling, I pray you will stay the course as long as God is behind you, softly speaking to you, saying, "This is the way...walk in it." And if your eyes wander to the school's marquee this time of year, get out your calendar. Go right to the dates for school registration and write in--in ink--"FIELD TRIP!!!" It doesn't really matter where you go; just go. Rediscover the joys of homeschooling and renew your conviction to press on.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Getting Back to Basics

During the course of our homeschooling journey, I found myself starting strong and finishing frazzled. In the early days of teaching the kids, our days were filled with new discoveries outside, watching documentaries on TV, learning math with manipulatives and reading Mc Guffey readers straight from the pages of Little House on the Prairie.

As the kids grew, I started to become more concerned with making sure they were learning the information that their public school counterparts were learning. I knew some homeschooling Super Moms. They all have 5 or more children excelling in all subjects, sitting at desks in a neatly organized room in their home complete with a whiteboard and pull-down maps on the walls. Wow. If they can do that with a flock of children, why do I find it difficult to finish math and reading with my two?

As time went on, I tried to get our school day to more closely resemble theirs. We had multiple texts on a variety of subjects, student desks, Trapper Keepers--if it looked like you would see it at school, we had it. Of course, our drop-down maps came in the form of those US map placemats you find at Walmart, but still--we had maps! So, if we were learning tons of information and plugging along, why were we all frustrated, bored and crying? Oh, I knew the answer. I just didn't have permission to "do school" the way that I knew was right for us from the beginning.

Funny thing, permission. Being a firstborn, I always feel like I need it. But I have learned that until I get permission from God, I will never get permission from myself. God heard our cries and caused me to stumble on to a book by Barbara Edtl Shelton titled Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La. God allowed Barbara to speak comfort to me to once again focus on what God wants for my kids. My goal is to help each child discover God's will in their life, teach them how to recognize and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and then assist them in planning a path that will take them to the destination God has for them. It's that simple. Once you know where you are going, getting there becomes an exciting adventure. Sometime you will need a textbook, and sometimes you will not. Either way, each child's education is their own.

Not that Super Moms who operate a "school at home" are doing anything wrong if it is working for their families. In fact, I know many a family whose children thrive on such an education. But for those of us who are being asked to be flexible, to adapt to the unique needs of our children's purpose and passions, I am convinced there is no other way than to be sensitive daily to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He is there to guide us to guide them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In the beginning...

Well, let's not go quite that far back. Let's just go back to when we started homeschooling...again.

Ed and I had been homeschooling our children, Brandon and Hannah, prior to moving back to Illinois to build a house on a couple acres we bought from my folks. When we began construction--yes, I mean we--we knew I couldn't devote all day every day to building our house with my dad and teach the kids effectively.

We knew we had been called by God to homeschool our children. Our son had already spent two years too many in public school and we did not want to go "back to Egypt". Ed prayed. I prayed. We prayed. (This is where submission is a beautiful thing, ladies) I gave over the discernment to my husband because I was too emotionally invested in the answer. In the end, we decided that sending the kids to public school temporarily would be okay. Christian principal. A couple Christian teachers. How bad could it be?

Fast forward two years. The house is completed. Brandon, now 13, has had more detentions than I can keep track of. His tics--he has Tourette's Syndrome--are at an all-time high. This one-time gifted student is no longer being considered for the gifted program because of his behavior and grades. He is begging to come back home. So we bring him back home to start his 8th grade year.

Hannah, now 10, is content to be at school (she is a girl, after all), but she doesn't like the thought of her mom and brother running around the countryside doing all sorts of cool stuff without her, and she asks to be brought home mid-school year. So Ed prayed. I prayed. Hannah prayed. Art teacher was given the principal's blessing to play music with explicit lyrics. Hannah came home immediately after volleyball season. :)

So, here we are. The summer of 2010. The kids will be entering their 9th and 6th grade years at home. Ahhhhhh. Free at last. Now, let's start living again!