Typically this is how a conversation goes with a complete stranger on homeschooling.
Them: So, you homeschool?
HERE WE GO…breathe, pray, breathe, speak.
Me: Yes, we do. (Big smile).
Them: Wow, how long you been doing that?
Me: We started eleven years ago, though we had almost a year in there where we put the kids in school because I was very sick.
Them: Really? Wow. Sorry to hear that.
Me: Yes, I ended up a patient at the cancer center. If it weren’t for me being miraculously healed, I would’ve had a bone marrow transplant. Thank the Lord He healed me right when He did! That was almost 8 years ago…and I have since had a baby and feel great!!
Them: That’s amazing. How many kids do you have then?
Me: We have four.
Them: What ages?
Me: 16, 14, almost 12, and 6.
Them: Wow, boys? Girls?
Me: Boy, girl, boy, girl.
Me: (Laughing because we feel the Lord eventually wants to grow our family through adoption, and my need for order, even in this aspect will be dealt with.)
“Yep,they are a blessing!
Them: So, how do you teach that many different age levels?
Me: My older two work very well independently with their Switched on Schoolhouse and Rosetta Stone curriculum and our oldest is taking a couple of classes at the local junior college for dual accreditation. We just need to help them on occasion they need us and to check their work. We spend more time with our almost 12 year old and our youngest at this point. It is CRAZY busy but it works!! We homeschool mostly year round (but way less in summer) so we can take off here and there when we need to for travel, out of town company, or just to enjoy a beautiful day.
Them: That’s really cool. My neighbor homeschools their kids. I don’t think I could-ever. I’m just not cut out for that.
Me: I understand. I once said that I would NEVER homeschool. hahaha God has a sense of humor.
Them: You know, I have honestly thought about it. I just don’t have a lot of time for lesson plans and teaching and I KNOW I don’t have the patience to homeschool. It’s like pulling teeth to get homework done every night.
Me: Oh, I know! I’m not saying everyone is cut out for it. I wasn’t. But the Lord has a way of taking those of us who are so not cut out for something and forming and shaping us into who He wants us to be, little by little. I can honestly say now that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t imagine not having my kids at home with me. I am REALLY blessed to have my husbands full time help and support though! The past couple school years he pretty much took over because my travel and work grew.
Them: My favorite times are during the Summer, just hanging out with my kids, going on field trips, working on projects, spending time playing with them. During the school year we run from school to dance to piano and then dropping the boys off at two different ball fields. We usually pick up food and eat in the car between activities. We meet my husband back at the house around 8 and it’s a mad rush to get baths, showers, homework, and lunches packed, slips signed, and clothes laid out. After 10 I am running around trying to do laundry and pick up after everyone. By then my husband is snoring away and I settle into bed with my phone to catch up on my fb friends until my eyes just wont stay opened any longer. 6 am comes WAY too early the next day. I am just so tired of it all. I know there has to be a better way, but I don’t know how to change or what to do to get there. The kids need sports. It teaches them to be team players. They need to learn music. I KNOW I can’t homeschool. I blow a gasket every night when we attempt one page of math homework. And don’t get me started on our fast food diet. I feel so ashamed when my friends, who go to great lengths to cook whole foods every day for their family-even grow their own garden-start to talk on fb about what yummy recipe they’re whipping up for their family. They probably would just die on the spot if they knew I was dreaming up whipping through McD’s for a dinner in the car..for the third time this week.
Me: I understand feeling overwhelmed. Our American culture is so go, go, go. I will admit that I have days where I am sooooo busy, it makes me anxious and panicked. When I realize that really only the most important things matter and that my to do list is made BY ME but controlled BY GOD, I do so much better. One of the things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility that comes with it. Most kids are so exhausted after a long day at school and being shuttled around to extracurricular activities. They just want to go home and sleep. It’s hard to get them to turn out a page of fractions at that point, you know? When they are fresh and rested is when you would get your best work out of them. Homeschooling isn’t easy, don’t get me wrong. Especially at first. But after awhile you settle into your own routine. It’s nice because you can still have time for extracurriculars. You can have big family lunches if you know you will have a busy evening ahead. You can have your children help you make a garden and cut up veggies and make healthier meals. Everyone has chores they have to complete every day, so it lessens the load on you. And, I’ll let you in on one of our secrets not many people know. We haven’t participated in organized sports the past several years and it has been such a blessing to our family to pull away and take a breather. With four kids, if each one had a sport and several practices and a game each week, there’s no way we could sanely juggle it all with our travel. You just have to determine what’s right for your family. It is so backwards to pull out of sports, I know. When we first did it, we got some looks from people. But the fruit has been good so far. I am not saying we won’t ever play sports… at one point they all took gymnastics once a week and it was the perfect fit. They practiced at home on our trampoline, and they had an hour long lesson each week, that was on the same evening. Now we have two that take horse riding lessons and one that will start back to guitar lessons soon. I just can’t tell you how nice it has been since we pulled away from the daily busy go, go, go. People ask about social interaction. It definitely is a delicate balance. They could get too much or too little of it, for sure. This day in time, I think we Americans have social down. We don’t know how to allow ourselves a simple bathroom break by ourselves. haha.
Them: That is so true!! Usually the only time I can update my fb status is in the bathroom or in bed before falling asleep.
Me: Ha! I know! Look, I have to get home now, it was so nice connecting with you and talking about life. Here’s my card. Please call or email me if you want to talk some more! I will be praying for you for wisdom and strength. I know Jesus has the the answers. I am world’s worse about trying it all my way, and then finding myself in tears at His feet. I am working so hard to go to him first. It would spare me so much heart ache.
Them: I am going to do that this weekend. It has been so long since I just sat down and was still and quiet. May even break open the Bible and see if He doesn’t speak to me that way.
Me: He will meet us. He tells us “come all who are thirsty”. He wants us to want Him. He loves us to sit with Him. Then He can speak to us and give us wisdom.
Them: Thanks so much!! This was such a God thing! I never come over this way. Today I just couldn’t get the farmers market off my mind and just felt compelled to see what all the hype was about. I am so glad I did. I will call you. My husband is going to be so excited that I talked to someone about homeschooling. He has been praying about it for a year now. You never know, we may take a stab at that computer curriculum my neighbor uses…S.O.S., I believe it is? Save our Ship? No…Switched on Schoolhouse. lol I think we could handle something like that. Thanks again!! God bless you!!
Me: haha. Absolutely!! I will be praying for you all.
I know that was a lonnnnnnng conversation, if you are still reading, kudos to you!! It may be because you too have had this conversation with someone. Or, because you are wrestling with the idea of homeschooling but you just think there is NO WAY you could do something that radical, that different, that…SCARY. And you don’t even know WHERE to begin. Not that you feel you are even qualified or have the time to start planning. There are people just like you every single day that decide to pick up the phone, or log into the web, or knock on the door of a neighbor and friend that homeschools, and they get the process started. It is a seed planted deep in their hearts. But they are afraid of change, afraid of what the school will say, afraid what their parents or in laws will say, afraid of what the coaches or pastor will say.
Can I pose a very pointed and poignant, thought provoking question?
What does it matter what they will say?
WHAT DOES YOUR FATHER SAY? What is He whispering deep in you and your spouse’s heart?
No, this is not a post where I tell everyone reading they need to homeschool. You will not find that on our blog. I have lots of friends who do not homeschool, and lots of friends whose kids play multiple organized sports, and I think they would tell you that I am not judgemental with them because God has them on a different path than mine. In fact, I cheer them on and encourage them on their path. I think that is a common mistake that homeschool families make and I try really hard not to fall prey to it. Do I think this is best for our family, absolutely, for sooooo many reasons. (Another blog post) Each family is unique and different and the Lord has seasons and callings and reasons He places us on different paths. That is all cool.
I am speaking to those of you, you know who you are…that have fought and wrestled and fought some more over this whole home schooling thing. You can’t get away from it. But you can’t muster up the courage to try it. It’s looking like climbing Mt. Everest and you don’t have the physical strength, the knowledge, the equipment, the team, or the courage to even think about climbing. There’s NO WAY. But, you are camped out in front of it, and it is about to drive you insane because that mountain is all you see, all you bump into, all you can think about day in and day out. You are even trying to avoid it and can’t. So, stare that mountain down, get some true grit, say a prayer, and start the trek one foot in front of the next. You got this.