Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day Nineteen: Is Homeschooling For Everyone?

I pulled back the bedspread, climbed in, bunched up my pillow on one end and snuggled my head into it. Terry turned out the light and slid in beside me. Within a minute he was breathing heavily and I knew he'd already drifted off to sleep. My thoughts raced with all the good things that had been accomplished that day. I exhaled a satisfying sigh of peace. I praised the Lord for His goodness and faded into unconsciousness.
Nights like those are precious. There are many when it's not so sweet, though. Sometimes I lie awake searching for answers to how I'm going to get Molly to transfer her perfect spelling tests to her actual writing or I fret about whether or not I bought the best curriculum for Emily this year. I kick myself for not remembering to make a doctor's appointment for Meg and the thought that we forgot to address the problem with Oliver using a hammer on the kitchen counter, looms in my mind. Yes, there are concerns, for sure. And there are times when I feel inadequate.
As I learn about Who my great God is, I begin to trust more and realize it's not  about what I'm doing perfectly that matters in my children's lives. When I felt the nudging toward homeschooling, I wasn't sure if we were going to be successful at this thing. However, I did know that I always had the option of placing them back in school, if I failed miserably. What I figured out over time is that through my weakness, God's power was revealed. I am able to do the best I can with the resources I have and then lay my children in His hands. He is beyond capable of honouring my efforts and guiding me in all that I do. He surprises me when suddenly, one of my children begins to excel in an area we've been praying about. He uses my inadequacies to demonstrate that He is my life preserver when I feel I'm drowning. I am completely dependent on Him in my homeschooling, just as I was when I was teaching a class of 28 children and feeling overwhelmed. Enrolling my kids in school again is no longer a weekly consideration or a threat I make to my children when they're fooling around and not working :)

However, the decision to homeschool must come from the Father to your own heart. I will not attempt to influence anyone to do something that is not already a stirring in their life. Perhaps the Lord has your family in exactly the location He's designed for you. May He bless you and prosper you in that place. But, I do encourage moms when I sense there's a longing there to be home and spend more time with their kids. I have friends whose children are struggling with some aspect of school and they've admitted to me that they know they could help their child with one on one attention, more than the teacher is presently able. Then I say, go for it! Rescue your little (or big) one from anxiety, frustration and that feeling of failure. God has given mommas a love that desires to see their babies succeed more than anyone else. If He's tugging on your heart, all your fears about being incapable pale in contrast to the potential home educating will likely provide. There is an abundance of support for newbie homeschoolers and a determined parent can be the best teacher for their child.
Besides lack of teaching experience, there are a few other obvious roadblocks for moms (or dads)considering homeschooling. One is financial. Yes, you must consider what a single income will look like for your family. Most often, I hear people eventually calculate how much homeschooling has saved them, such as, they no longer have to keep up with the latest clothing, gadgets, school fees, special snacks, etc. But, it might be more than that for you. Closing a second income is almost crippling for some families. I want to encourage you that if God is putting the desire in your heart and you're praying for answers, He will provide as you obey His voice. It's the same as trusting Him in all other areas of your life.

Another obstacle is the fear of loss of your time and freedom. How great is it to wave goodbye to your kids as they climb onto the bus so you can go to work, pick up groceries, or clean the house and then smile at their dear faces as they return many hours later? I assure you, that is a cost to consider. I am no longer in that position because my older ones look after the younger and I am now able to run out for dinner items or meet a friend for tea. There were a few tough years in there but looking back, I am thankful for the training time I had so that I would be able to have more freedom. I don't feel guilty leaving them as I've spent much time with them throughout the day already.
A third roadblock is that one parent (usually the husband, but I've seen the opposite) doesn't agree with the idea of homeschooling the children. This seems to be the biggest reason for women I've spoken to. The momma gets the nudging and the dad feels that it'll set his kids' back in their learning or they'll look weird and unsocialized (As I have written about homeschooling in community a few days ago, I won't address the subject again. However, I have found socialization has more to do with the type of family the child is in and less about how often he sees kids his age. Have you ever met children who have low social abilities at school? A couple in every class, right?). Back to the dads... I believe that whatever comes from the Lord, can be prayed into existence. I'm living proof of that and so are most of my friends. When we were feeling strongly that homeschooling was right for our children, we fasted and prayed for our husbands to come on board. Without pushing or forcing our plans, God moved in the hearts of our husbands and here we are today. 
A beautiful and creative example of this is my friend, Annie, who was pretty sure she was up for the challenge of schooling her children. The kids were attending a Christian school but she just felt like home was where they needed to be for now. Her husband understandably figured, why fix what isn't broken? Still, she felt the pull. She prayed for a few months and knowing her husband's personality as a banker, she gathered a file folder of information, that included a potential schedule, field trip ideas, groups they could become involved in, and an article about the benefits of homeschooling. She made an appointment at the bank like one of his clients would and booked herself as "Anita Shoiya". She wanted to be sure he would take her idea seriously. When she arrived at his office, he was happy to see her but mentioned that he had a client due to come soon. She told him that client was standing in front of him. He was taken aback. She verified the name on his list of appointments and told him to say it slowly. He pronounced..."A--ne--ta--show--ya" and soon figured out she "needed to show him" something :) After presenting the folder full of research, she asked him with a little trepidation what he thought. Immediately, he offered, "Well, I've been thinking we could move the dining room table and make it the classroom..."

Her heart whispered, Oh, Lord, what just happened?

So, if you're interested in home education or sensing that it's possibly a step for your family to take, I assure you, if it's God's plan, He'll see you through. It won't be a perfectly smooth journey, but it will be successful in ways you never expected. Enjoy the process and trust in the One who created your children. He knows what is best for them and He chose you to be their caretaker and teacher.

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