Homeschooling — Our journey

by Kari on October 31, 2014

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“Why did you decide to homeschool?”

I’m often asked this question. I enjoy sharing our journey with whoever asks, but I’ve never written it out here publicly, mostly because my intent is not to defend our choice or assert that we are “right.” Although I am passionate about homeschooling, I am more passionate about people. About love.  I believe the Holy Spirit can speak individually to each family, and it is their responsibility to make the choice for their own children. The last thing I want to do is breed comparison or division. So often we women take hot topics (whether we celebrate halloween, for example :)) and make them into defensive mud-slinging online battles over who is “right.” Romans 14 makes it clear there is freedom in the non-essentials, so let’s let there be!

Above all these things put on love which is the bond of perfection. (Col. 3:14)

That said, I had the sheer joy this week of reading my own mom’s journaled thoughts about why they chose homeschooling 30 years ago. It was so helpful to have this glimpse into her heart, to see their earnest efforts to make the best choice for their children. So, in case it can be helpful for anyone, I’ll share our own journey.photo 2 (6)

I was homeschooled until the middle of 5th grade (10-yrs old), then I went to public school through high school, then a public university, then a private seminary for grad school. So, with experience in both homeschooling and public school (my husband was public schooled throughout), we were open to both options.

When Dutch was a toddler, we were really on the fence. The church-circle I was in had two strong mentor-type women, one who passionately homeschooled and one who passionately public-schooled. I loved both women, could see strengths to both, and both had fabulous kids. Our main draw to homeschooling was the academic advantage (let’s face it, you can just learn more on your own than in a class of 30 kids) and more time with our children, but the draw to public school was missional–we wanted to be a light for Christ in a dark world and figured that involvement in public school would give us that “in.”  We prayed and prayed then prayed some more.

Never once did I sense there was only one “right” answer, or that if we made the wrong choice our kids would be doomed forever. Though I took the decision very seriously, I knew that ultimately God’s will is idiot-proof. He wasn’t out to trick us and would honor our honest searching by leading us along, one step at a time.

At 3-years-old, when many of my friends were enrolling their kids in preschool, it just seemed ridiculous with Dutch. Social situations stressed him out, and he thrived on long periods of free play time. Plus, I wanted to be WITH him!  I had such a short window of time to pour into him, I wanted to take full advantage of it.

Then at 4, preschool still seemed completely unnecessary. I began teaching Dutch to read, doing Letter Lessons every day, and using other fun learning materials given to me by a former preschool teacher. All was well, so maybe we’d keep going …?

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Now we began saying, with fear and trepidation, “We’re homeschooling.” Yikes! When people asked “How long are you planning to homeschool?” I’d always answer, “One day at a time!” Our son was very challenging, which made me cautious about committing long-term, but also kept me committed in the day-to-know, knowing he needed special attention and lots of consistent discipline! There was no way I was sending that kid off on his own yet!

steady days(That same year my sister-in-law bought me the book Steady Days by Jamie Martin. I greatly enjoyed her practical wisdom, and began reading her blog, Steady Mom. This linked me to her work on Simple Homeschool where she served as editor. I loved it. I was so drawn to everything I read. By some sweet act of providence, Jamie linked to one of my posts, and we became connected online. She generously allowed me to share guest posts, and … well, there you have it. I’m part of the team and I LOVE being involved in that life-giving online community.)

At 5, Dutch was reading well and we began to be more intentional about developing our family mission statement, as well as our philosophy of education for our kids. We knew that we liked the way things were going, but wanted to be intentional about why we were headed this way. (If you’re interested I’d be happy to share our 10 reasons why we homeschool as well as my own mom’s reasons from 30 years ago. I wrote it as a post but feel like I’d rather just share with those who are specifically interested. So if you’d like it just shoot me a line here.)

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Now, Dutch is almost 8 (2nd grade) and Heidi is 5 (Kindergarten). It’s fun now to see their own individual learning styles and personalities emerging. Dutch reads adult-level history and science encyclopedias but is just now finishing the first Handwriting without Tears workbook (very basic). He enjoys/tolerates Singapore math, at an average 2nd grade level. Heidi is a gifted artist, doing online tutorials each day, and reading Bob Books. She’s doing 1st grade Singapore math and loves it. We also enjoy a spattering of Classical Conversations material here and there and play in the mud a lot. :)

As the years have gone by, we’ve become overwhelmed in gratefulness for God’s grace in allowing us to fall backwards into this decision to homeschool.  Sure, there are hard days, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love it so much. At this point I’m still saying, “One day at a time,” but I could honestly see us going all the way through high school, taking full advantage of foreign language, art, sports, and other extracurricular activities through public and private schools, online programs, parks and rec, and our local community college. We’ll see.

I’m trusting God to lead us one day at a time.

{Bless you, brave parents, as you raise your arrows of light to shoot into the darkness. We are the light of the world! You can do it! May you bring His light to the world today. Happy weekend; Thanks for reading. }

PS Looking for where to begin? My fav beginning curriculum picks are: Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy LessonsLeapfrog Letter Factory and Talking Word Factory videos, Bob Books and Singapore MathAlso Letter Lessons are here. My fav philosophy of education books are The Christian HomeschoolBetter Late Than EarlyEducating the Wholehearted Child, and The Well-Trained Mind.

 

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When you feel like you’re suffocating …

by Kari on October 29, 2014

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“I’m suffocating.”

I didn’t know any other way to describe it to Jeff. I love my mundane with my two little bugs, but Heidi had become increasingly anxious and clingy. It started with tears when I’d travel to retreats. That was fine, I cried too! But then I was all done with retreats, and the tears continued. Tears if I had a meeting. Tears if I went to exercise. Leaving the house for one hour required at least 30 minutes of transition, tears, praying, sobbing goodbyes on the porch. Seriously??? This was ridiculous. I found myself canceling meetings, skipping get togethers with the girls, not going to exercise. A date for Jeff and me was completely out of the question. Just talking about it sent her into a tailspin of tears.

If I went to the bathroom without telling her she’d come to the door crying, “Why did you leave me?????” Every day I’d have to narrate what was doing so she knew my location at every moment.  At bedtime she’d need me to check on her every ten minutes, and even then she’d count down every minute on the clock.  It was getting worse.  And every time I’d try to talk to her about her anxiety, she’d say there was nothing wrong, she “just wanted to be with me.”

Until this morning. After feeling frustrated with my distractible prayer life, I started writing out my prayers, to stay focused. This morning, when I began to intercede, Heidi came to mind and I prayed simply, “Free her from fear.” I didn’t know where it had come from, but it was there for sure.

She woke that morning at 6am, as always. She sat on my lap as I read and prayed and prepared for Bible study. After awhile she sat on the floor beside me and colored. Then, suddenly, she got up and jumped into my lap, burying her head in my shoulder, not breathing.

“Babygirl, what’s wrong?” She was silent, her face contorting, turning red with tears, the kind you try to keep pushed down, but you can’t. Tears spilled out down her cheeks, but she still couldn’t talk. What on earth? I sat holding her, kissing her tears. Finally, it escaped:

“One day there was a car … I ran across the street … and you weren’t there … and I almost got hit by a car but God saved me …”

By now she was sobbing. What? I peppered her with questions, When? Where was I? She kept describing. At a friend’s house. I wasn’t there. They all went for a walk. She ran across the street. A car … she tripped and fell … God saved her.

Oh Jesus.

I knew this occasion had to have been awhile ago because I hadn’t been away from her in ages! A few more questions and I remembered the occasion–last February.

Eight months ago???

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know how all this spiritual stuff works, but I know something: Fear gripped her that day and hasn’t loosened since.

Left alone fear always tightens its grip — chokes.

Suffocates. 

Fear’s goal: Steal, kill, and destroy.

I leaned in close, “Babygirl, is that why you’re afraid to be away from Mama? Because Mama wasn’t there that day.”

She shut her eyes tight and nodded hard, up and down. There it was. It’s out. The truth that sets us free.

“Oh baby, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry Mama wasn’t there.” We talked a tiny bit more, about how much God loves her that He would save her life, that He’d protect her even when Mama wasn’t there. How much God loves us, taking care of us and protecting us.

But the truth is that the truth is also a little frightening: Sometimes God doesn’t keep us from what we most fear. What about then?

What about when all our fears feel justifiable?

Only the Love of God can dispel those fears.

We trust, not just that He’ll keep us from harm, but that He’ll keep us for Him. He will preserve us and keep us for Himself, forever. No matter how fear threatens to slip in and suffocate:

Perfect love casts out fear.

I pulled her in a little tighter, hands holding her face, and prayed over her, with power: Freedom from fear. Her body relaxed. My mind still spun a little, but when I finished praying she looked up. A little delighted glimmer flashed across her eyes,

“Mommy, aren’t puppies ridiculous?”

I grinned. Fear gone.

{We will keep battling the vicious weed of fear, but praising God today that the root is gone. I pray you find fear’s root and pray it out with the perfect love of God. Have a blessed day. Thanks for reading.}

 

 

 

 

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