Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Why We Homeschool

I never chose to homeschool for religious purposes. Don't think that is wrong, it just wasn't our reason for homeschooling.

I never chose to homeschool to protect my children from the evils of the world. Or to isolate them from people who have different world views. We regularly have people seated around our table who hold different religious views, different political views and different ideological views. Heck, even Philip and I disagreed about many things in politics and religion, so homeschooling couldn't protect the kids from our differences.

I didn't choose to homeschool because I wanted to protect my children from the theory of evolution. I believe that God created the world, but I have no earthly idea how long those 6 days took in our real time. Sorry, but I don't really care if we are in a young earth or an old earth, or if my Creator happened to be behind a really big bang.

I didn't choose to homeschool to isolate them from their worldly peers who play with electronics and watch tv and wear bikinis. We don't have a tv, but they love to watch tv when they visit their friends and playing on the computer is a favorite pasttime, even though we choose to do other things besides that on our farm.

We have gay friends and Baptist friends and conservative friends and liberal friends and farmers and computer techie friends and young and old friends, friends who love Jesus and others who don't.

The reason I love to homeschool is that I have always loved living a complete life, a life that involves a lot of reading around the table, sharing fairy tales and history and science and really great literature. Weeping together over the sad parts, laughing until we cried in the funny parts. I loved being a part of the moment when a certain math problem finally made sense. To the mother and the child, all at the same time. I loved the intimacy that came all of us, toddler to teenager, studying the same history topic all at the same time, then going on an adventure to the actual site to see where it all took place.

I remember the year, when Thomas was 9, that he struggled to read the Cat in the Hat and progressed, in a matter of months, to reading The Hobbit. He now has stacks of books around his chair in his room, everything from World War II history to Russian novels, spy thrillers, sci-fi and graphic novels.

During our homeschool we have brainstormed farm vision. We have researched cool and amazing facts about ancient Persian history. We have turned science into practical biology, with Dr. friend outlining the complete inner workings of the chickens and hog we butchered together.

Sex education takes place on a regular basis when it is breeding season. Nora works on phonics decoding everytime she puts a label on our bread for market. The kids work on social skills as they interact with customers at the farmer's market, with interns on the farm and with other friends whose lives interface with ours.

Rose got an amazing education in economics when she decided on her own to sell fresh mint tea at the market. Maggie worked on home economics, learning to sew and market shopping bags. Patrick could be a statesman, the education he has gotten running the Botetourt farmer's market all on his own. Thomas has had a season of working the bakery with me for a year, last year getting up regularly at 4:30 to help with the milling and washing up.

All this and more.

At times it is frustrating to spend so many hours with one's family. Hard to motivate them and boss them and manage them.

But it has been the biggest joy in my life.

Middle of July is typically when Philip and I would begin to evaluate our homeschool plan, praying that God would show us what was the right direction for the coming fall semester. We love homeschooling, but felt like it was best to decide year by year what was best for our children.

Last year I considered public school because of my increased work load. Philip wasn't feeling as well and I thought it would be hard for me to manage. But with prayer and consideration, we decided to continue on our regular course.

I am glad we did because we had some terrific, even if hard, family time. The kids had a lot of dad time.

Now I am working more hours and have decided that it is the right time to enlist the help of our wonderful neighbors who are teaching in the public school. At least for this season of our life as we adjust and figure out how to manage without Philip.

We are all nervous about this very huge change in our life. I am terribly grieved.

But I remind the kids that some things about us are probably not going to change. We will always enjoy reading together. We will still farm together, but it will have to be before school and after. They will still go to farmer's market with me. We may not be the model public school family because farming will be the extra curricular and I don't plan on driving kids to every activity under the sun.

Now it is time to fill out paperwork and registration stuff. Look at student supply lists and get physicals. Who knows? We have considered so very many options, I can't imagine, but maybe another option will present itself that is even better than the public school.

For now we attempt to adjust.

Philip's death means a lot of changes on the farm. I feel like the surrender of our homeschool is another death. Death of a vision of our ideal world.

But isn't real life a continuing death and rebirth, a regeneration, just like the seasons? Some years our goats produce many many babies. Some not. Some years the garden produces tomatoes, sometimes it is the butternut squash and cucumbers that flourish. We might miss the tomatoes in the cucumber year, but we learn to appreciate the variety and the newness of the seasons, whatever they bring.

Surrender greatly hurts my pride. I have to admit it. I have no idea what our future holds and that hurts too, and makes me nervous. The kids are nervous about the thought of a new school but kind of excited about the challenge. I think they will do great. Our homeschool has trained them to be adaptable and flexible and that should serve them well in this new chapter, no matter how long it lasts.


Anonymous said...

A prayer from "God Encounter"
Father in heaven, help me rest in the knowledge that You're ever present, always with me. In the midst of the storms of life, help me lean on You and seek Your direction. You are the Alpha and Omega. When my struggles threaten to get the best of me, to overwhelm me, help me focus on You. And in the midst of this prayer, as I think on my struggle and on You, keep the Evil One at bay. Amen

I know that you do pray this prayer many times and when I read it today thought of you and the struggle to know what to do about school. Whatever your battle I know the Lord is right there with you.
much love, Mom

Leonora said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonora said...

Your children will shine in public school! Our youngest will attend for the first time this year- 8th grade at CAMS. We are both nervous and my heart skips to think of her going off, but we know it's time.

Anonymous said...

And this post, dear one, would point me straight to Jesus....a non-legalistic,ever-present, I love you, no guilt Jesus... if you hadn't done just that very thing all those years ago.

We surround you with prayer.

da Florins

Debbie Millman said...

I love your openness to whatever God has for you and the kids concerning school. As I read your decision, it feels right. It feels like God Himself is holding you by the hand and showing you what to do each step of the way. I am loving you, friend.... counting the days til we get to visit and work together for a few days.....