Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homeschool Evolution

Hello friends.  I feel like I need to take a moment and update you on our home school journey.

P.S.  We are very normal people with very normal sins of pride, selfishness, and lack of patience, to just give you the tip of the iceberg.  This blog is so not about "look at my awesome kids".  No no no no no no no.  NO.  This blog is so not about "I home school and you don't, nanny nanny boo boo."  No no NO NO NO!  THIS BLOG is about "THANK YOU JESUS"!!!  To Him be ALL honor and glory and praise.  It his only by HIM that any of my life is possible. And by Him you can home school or continue to home school.  Thanks!

I began home schooling in 2009 when my oldest began kindergarten. Prior to this he attended a public preschool for special needs children.  I have many, many reasons for home schooling but suffice it to say, the main reason I still continue to home school is because I feel that it is my God-given responsibility to do so.  Truly.  I began inquiring of the Lord as to what I needed to do for my children, and home schooling was the answer.  I don't believe home schooling is what God would require everyone to do.  But I do very strongly feel that if more people diligently searched out what God would have them to do, and were willing, there would be more people who do it.  I think it is something that is just sort of a "given"----that our country has free education, and we pay taxes, and there is a yellow bus that goes by the house, so we send our kids to school.  I think that as a parent, one must be heavily involved in their child's education, whether or not that is at home or at school.  I do think that it is an avenue worth exploring by foot while praying, not just by bus.

I want to thank God Almighty for His gift of wisdom, for His grace, and His longsuffering and gentle patience with me in home schooling.  Home schooling has brought me to the very end of myself.  I will at times throw myself on my "prayer couch" in the living room and complain like a child told to clean their room, and yet He is there to encourage and to enlighten over and over and over again, never wearying or faltering in His devotion to me.  When I mention that I home school I inevitably hear, "I don't have the patience to do that", or "other kids listen to me, but mine won't".  I try to explain as much as possible that I don't have patience either, and that my children are often too familiar with me to hold their steadfast attention.  But home schooling is the very vehicle that God has used to cultivate patience in me.  Just like stretching tight hamstrings, my being persistent while methodically being patient toward my children in an attempt to foster learning has made me much more "flexible" in dealing with them.  I feel that my children have a level of respect for me because I am their teacher and because I insist upon their best, not in spite of it.  It is helping them stretch a bit too: their self will is to push against, but when they voluntarily submit to a loving, patient mama that is TRULY only able to be such by the grace of God (and I am not ever that enough), they are learning humility and respect for authority, even in the familiar comforts of home.  That is golden.  That is GOD at work, friends.

I want this to be a hope and encouragement to those of you beginning home schooling with little ones.  I can remember the year my youngest was born.  I was high-risk pregnant, home schooling a 5 year old on the autism spectrum, a 4 year old who resisted my every request, and a two year old who was being potty trained and trying to write on so many vertical places in our home. My husband was pastoring and working 50-60 hours a week at his secular job. The next year my baby would be awake more and crawling, the two year old was in the terrible threes, and the 5 and 6 year old were learning basic skills that required much one-on-one time.  I will spare you any more gory details of those years.

From November to June of last year I lived in 3 residences, the biggest move being from Ohio to Oregon.  I also had a 3 year old who was still very much 3 years old in all things attention span.  It has been hard, but soooooo good!

Just this year, I am starting to see the fruits of my labor, which belong to my Jesus who made it all possible.  My big boys are much more "in charge" of their learning.  I love to teach.  I am a teacher at heart and in every single professional position I have ever held, I was a teacher in some capacity.  Often an unconventional one at that, teaching mostly adults or children who had many obstacles to overcome.  So I still get to teach history and science, and work one on one with each one on particular subjects.  But I can hand them a planner with the following on it:  Exercise, chores, Bible reading, science, grammar, math, spelling, independent reading and writing (and all of these have specific assignments or reading, or both)-------and they will just DO IT. They are learning to be independent learners, and that they are heavily involved in their own education process.  They are learning work before play, and play has taken on a new definition for them; less electronics, and way more playing together, or leisurely reading.

My reluctant daughter, who is a very hard worker when she has a job to do but detests seat work, is reaping her accomplishments and her attitude toward the whole process is shifting.  My littlest guy is very engaged this year, seeming to mature leaps and bounds over just 3 months ago.

In short, I am seeing this work, this struggle, this laying down of myself and my former lifestyle----I am seeing it WORK.  Because it WORKS!  I already knew how it was working in me, when I let it.  It was eroding my will, revealing my weaknesses, forcing me to go to the Lord for help, requiring that I dig in and do the hard stuff, helping me lay aside wants and desires that aren't important.  Oh I have so very, very far to go!  But I have come along more than I did before.

But I didn't really "see" where it was helping and shaping and changing my kids. . . until NOW.  I could see glimmers and glimpses here and there, but now I can SEE.  My boys are growing up, taking on their own responsibilities, and are learning self-sufficiency.  They are seeing the differences in themselves and those around them, and how what Jason and I are so feebly trying to teach them----to trust God and His ways and what that actually looks like in the day to day---------works and is true.  When my daughter comes along side me in the kitchen and cleans up after lunch and helps get supper going and does dishes with me, she looks at me differently.  She values what I do and wants to do it herself.  I am not a maid taking care of the place, and my husband is not a wallet that makes toy store dreams come true, but we are overseers training kids to "do" adulthood. Wow.  There is no place I would rather be.

He gives us spiritual blessings and when we have those we forget about this tempting world around us.  When we hone in on those blessings, the spiritual implications in our work as keepers at home, and trainers of children. . . there is a deep satisfaction.  He said the virtuous woman should be given the fruit of her hands.  I certainly don't feel like I am that woman, but I long to be.  How wonderful to begin to see the fruit that I hope to lay at His feet!

I leave you with this, friends:  "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Galatians 6:9.  Faint not, mamas.  When it gets hard and ugly, cry out to Jesus. He is an ever present help in times of trouble, and His light will shine on the problems and He WILL give you answers on how to help your kids, your husband, yourself.  Your very crying out to Him is teaching your kids that "when I get in trouble I go to mama, but when mama gets in trouble she goes to Jesus."

You are loved------