I recently went to a homeschool event – a sort of training. It was my FIRST experience with anything homeschool.
I have known a number of homeschooling families throughout my life. I have gone through the phases of thinking it is the weirdest thing ever (my junior high self), to thinking it seems like a pretty good idea. My thoughts on homeschool have run the gamut and have settled on this:
We are going to do it. And I am excited. Then nervous…and excited…and nervous.
I have shared these thoughts here before. Aren’t they deep?
Anyway, back to the homeschool event. I saw it ALL there. And I talked to all kinds of moms preparing to teach their children at home this year. There was a tiger-mom. There were the overwhelmed moms. I heard a powerful testimony from a mom to a boy likely “on the spectrum.” I heard from mother’s of 6, 8, 10(!) kids who homeschool.
Prompted by questions, these women would begin to share the practicalities of their homeschool days. To a woman, each had a book they recommended for this homeschooling journey. I began to make a list.
Then I began to formulate a plan for keeping my novice homeschooling heart well-fed and well-prepared for this task ahead.
The book that kept coming up was Teaching from Rest: a Homeschooler’s Guide to UNSHAKABLE PEACE, by Sarah Mackenzie. See those all-caps? There is a reason this book is sought out by moms. We see the storm coming and we are preparing our umbrellas and rain slickers, hoping desperately not to drown.
Because it was mentioned so many times and because I had a little moment of “I need that!” I ordered a copy of it and waited patiently for it to arrive. Purposely, I took my time reading it. I am glad I did.
Here are the big takeaways for me:
Instant results aren’t going to happen.
I have been referring to our choice to homeschool as a “big buy-in” for quite some time. The reason for this is: the type of education we have chosen is so foreign to me and requires so much discipline for me, I have to simply trust the process. I find myself constantly telling myself to dial it back a bit. To look for a more simple way. Instead of creating a project, a craft, a field trip, and a journal entry for every small morsel of learning; just simply teach and learn the morsel. This goes against who I am as a learner – and who I am as a teacher.
But the reason for the “buy-in” is because G is 5. She can’t be expected to grapple with the intricacies of almost anything at this stage. My tendency is to push past the information-gathering stage too quickly. The reality is she is IN the information-gathering phase. As such, I am tasked with becoming a faithful seed-sower. Patiently waiting for the next stages to appear.
In Teaching from Rest, Sarah shares in response to the poem “Little Things”:
It may be just a little drop of water, but if you can manage to take the long view, you will see that these little moments, done faithfully, add up to quite a lot more than just a puddle. Done faithfully and mindfully, day in and day out over years, they “make a mighty ocean.”
Reading Teaching from Rest told me that homeschooling is a “big buy-in” for every homeschooling parent. I am not alone in this impatient, results-driven culture. This year, I hope to cultivate the habit of stepping back my markers for success.
We are both going to learn – a lot!
Homeschooling is not a teacher-student interaction. Rather, it is a student-student interaction. I am reminded of Paul asking his flock to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 4: 16, 11:1). He didn’t say this because he had it all figured out. He said this because he was further along on the journey. And he simply offered himself up as a guide to the Guide.
God gave me these three children as refining instruments in my life. He is faithfully fashioning me into what He wants me to be and using these children in the process. I see my sin more clearly in my interactions with my children. Recognizing the rough ways of my character and repenting of my unrighteousness.
Funny enough, He thinks I am far enough along in the process that He has now tasked me with teaching these little instruments myself. And the refining continues. The growing pains ensue.
On the topic of being who you are as a teacher to your kids (making this homeschooling thing your own), Sarah says:
There is a fine balance here between knowing about yourself so that you may grow in virtue and overcome sin, and knowing about yourself and leaning on those vices as excuses.
There will be much stretching and growing; sin and repentance; restoration and rejoicing in this year ahead. And most of it will be happening in the seat occupied by me.
I use the word simple a lot. This blog is called Simple.Home.Blessings. for a reason. Even though I tend to cultivate simplicity in my life, there are many times when I can over-complicate things. If there are three steps to doing a task, I can figure out how to do it in twenty.
Frequently, I create elaborate plans and then work my way down to something more simple. And my daughter has been watching me do this for 5 years. She may not get that the plan was way more intricate at the beginning, but she sees the simplified results.
I was sitting with her the other night while her sister was getting ready for bed and I was telling her how excited I am about school starting soon. I was telling her that we are going to learn about some of my favorite things. That we are going to read wonderful books. And we are going to have so much FUN!
My sweet daughter added, “And we are going to do a CRAFT for everything!”
As I write this I smile! She has come to expect what we call, “projects.” She knows fun will be had when Mama says, “I am planning something fun for us to do.” However, I could have taken her excited statement as a directive for the year. I could have immediately gone back to my carefully created lesson plans and twisted and turned until I could figure out a craft for everything.
But I did not do that. Instead, I left the craft ideas in the lesson plan in the places where they already were. And I sought simplicity. I considered what plans I had then I said, “It is enough.”
The most important message in Sarah’s book is found in the shortest sentences tucked at the end of Part Two under a picture of a kid on a beach playing with grains of sand. The caption reads:
Today, do less. Do it well.
My Homeschooling Book List
As I said at the beginning of this post, I created a list of books. I decided at that homeschooling event to challenge myself to read a book a month throughout this homeschool year. For encouragement’s sake. Here’s my list:
Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
Beauty for Truth’s Sake by Stratford Caldecott
The Pattern of God’s Truth by Frank Gaebelein
Repairing the Ruins by Douglas Wilson
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy
Grooming the Next Generation for Success by Dani Johnson
The Core by Leigh Bortins
Echo in Celebration by Leigh Bortins
How Am I Smart? by Kathy Koch
A Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
Have you read any of these books? Do you have some suggestions for what I should read? I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment so we can talk books and homeschool!