Emma, 11, at her desk which shares a room with the baby changing table near the laundry room.
Well, my, my. This is quite the subject. I’m just going to talk about a few things I say to people who tell me they have been thinking about homeschooling, but really don’t see how they could ever do it. I remember well when I was at this point. In future posts I will go more in depth about why my husband and I are homeschooling our children, because the truth is it opens a whole can of worms in many areas. I will tell you it has been one of the greatest igniters of personal growth for both of us. I will also get into the practical side of homeschooling.
Meg, 7. Do they let you hold your favorite stuffed animal in school. I’m really not sure. Maybe they do.
Whether or not you believe in God, this statement holds true. Somehow your particular children were born to you (whether biological or adopted). They are in your house, under your care. You love them beyond what you could ever imagine. Hopefully, if you are diligent in your training of them, (and this is hard work, but nothing great ever came from taking the easy way out) they will be the most delightful people you will ever want to be around as they grow into adults.
No one, I repeat no one, will ever love your children the way you do. Not your best friend, not your wonderful neighbors, not your sister or your brother, not even your parents. No one knows the intricate nature of your children the way you do. You have taken on the job to love them, train them and protect them from the world until they are mature and wise enough to take the world on by themselves (of course with you in their corner.)
Henry, 6, doing pre-handwriting exercises.
Our culture, over the last 150 years, has taught us that we must send our children off, at about age 5 or 6, to spend the majority of their day in a building with people that we truthfully don’t know. We might think they “seem” nice, but really, we don’t know them. For many generations, the message we have all received is, “Well, that’s just the way we do things. We send them off to school and we let the teachers teach them. They are trained, right?”
If we look at the history of the world, we would see that not that long ago and for 1000’s of years, children were taught at home. It’s only very recent, through the industrialization of our nation and the change of people coming off the farm, into the cities and into the factories, that we have abdicated our responsibilities to raise our children daily from sun up to sun down, for the most part, to our government. Unless it’s a private school and then we have abdicated to strangers who work for the school.
The truth is, homeschooling for 1000’s of years, has been the norm. And just in the last 150 years has there been the variant of sending children away from home to school. In the last 15 years modern homeschooling has become mainstream. A very viable option for everyone, now that reformers during the 60’s and 70’s eradicated laws that prohibited it. With the internet, support groups in almost every city and annual conventions that showcase aisles and aisles of innovative curriculum; and also, school problems that include dumbed-down curriculum, drugs, violence, not to mention peer pressure – it is easier than ever and more tempting than ever to jump into this lifestyle.
This reminds me of that story of the Mom, the Grandma and the Great-Grandma. Dad brought home a big, beautiful ham and Mom cut the end off before she put it in the pan to cook it. He said, “Why do you cut the end off ? There is a lot of good ham on that piece you cut off.” She said, “Well that is how I was always taught to cook a ham. I’m really not sure of the reason. Let’s call Mom and ask her.” Well, Grandma said the same thing. “That is just how I was always taught to cook a ham. Let’s call my mom.” And Great-Grandma said, “Well, I don’t know about you, but my pan was too short. So I cut off the end so it would fit in the pan.” I love that story. So, just to clarify, the point is: just because it has always been done this way, doesn’t mean it is right.
Anyway, our culture in America is a mess. Most of you would probably agree. And, when you get down to it, everything that is a mess always comes back to home and the family. It all starts there. If we are going to effect change in the world, we have to start changing things at the foundation. Home. And we might have to get radical and turn some things upside down. Maybe you are someone who doesn’t like to do that. That’s ok. These ideas won’t resonate for everyone.
In Your Heart
So…. if there is a little place in your heart that is tugging at you saying “I think home schooling might be right for me, BUT….. I can’t imagine that I could actually do this. Or my children don’t listen to me. There is no way. Or I always hated math, algebra, history, writing, fill-in-the-blank. I could not do it. Or I need “my time” so I can keep my sanity. Or I have too many other responsibilities. I could not add that. Or my children are too used to school and they would not want to come home. I promise, there are answers to all of these seeming dilemmas.
I understand these feelings because I have experienced them and/or have seen many friends who have experienced them too. What I would say to you now, is say this prayer “God, are you really steering me in this direction? Because if you are, I have no idea how this would ever happen. Please show me how.” Or something like that. And then, I want you to read this book. This will link to Amazon if you want to order it. Or they will have it at your local library and if not, you can do the inter-library loan. (ask your librarian about that)
One of my favorite books.
It is one of the first books I read when I was contemplating this big move and I refer back to it often. The authors are considered the Grandparents of the homeschooling movement. I like the subtitle: “A creative and stress-free approach to homeschooling.” It will give you your initial sense of “Hmmm, maybe, just maybe, this is a possibility.”
I pray that you will follow your heart. Listen to that still, small voice. Take time daily before you allow the world to come crashing in to develop your ability to hear that voice. And if God is trying to get your attention in this area, don’t ignore Him. If you are obedient, you will be blessed beyond your expectations.
So, in summary, homeschooling might look like a huge mountain that you could not imagine yourself hurdling. Trust me. I thought that too.
But here is a key: After you make the decision:
BABY STEPS. A little at a time.
“Breathe through your mouth” as my Grandma used to say.
It will require you to grab hold of a long-term view on what you are contributing during this short time on earth. The focus has to come away from the short-term, daily difficulties. My good friends say “Our children are a letter we write to a future we will never see. Make it a good letter.”