Someone told me recently that if you find yourself asking, “How in the world did I get here?” then that is a good sign you are following Jesus. I find myself at home all day with 3 boys, 2 rats and 1 dog. I ask myself that question EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
A year and a half ago I was scared to restart homeschooling. I needed A LOT of confirmation from God before I would take the full plunge. I was afraid I’d never be alone again. Or have a quiet time again. Or be able to keep them up to speed academically. BUT God led, and I followed. It hasn’t always been easy, as is often the case, but it has been full of ‘wonderfuls.’
Part of my fear was because we pulled them out of an excellent academic environment. I am responsible and accountable for their education. This had to become a big part of my day – not just a side project to squeeze in as I multi-task other things. I rely on good curriculum to guide me and our state requires testing to ensure we are on track.
Some Pros for us:
· The flexibility it offers within our ministry schedule. Our family recently took an extended vacation when it worked best for Jeff’s ministry commitments. And the popular places we visited were not packed with other families!
· When we were on campus we could spend some daytime hours with Jeff if he was going to be gone in the afternoon and evening. If my kids had/have a late night I can let them sleep in the next day. Now that Jeff is at HQ we occasionally go to the office for a lunch with Dad and look for wildlife with our binoculars and bird book at the Glen (science!).
· One of my boys is more introverted (though still very social) and struggles with anxiety. We didn’t want him to have to “hold it all in” all day at school and come home completely strung out anymore. At home I can help him process the anxiety as it arises in a private setting.
· Our boys are big readers and though they read their fair share of “twaddle”, like comics, I also get to guide them to many beautiful books that will fill their soul with good things.
· I love that my kids have so much free time to explore the things they really want to learn about and just be kids. Even with a 6th grader, if we start by our goal time of 8:15, we are done by early afternoon. They learn so much through “play”, which in our family includes zip lines through our living room, catapults made of popsicle sticks, climbing a lot of trees, reading many hours a day (together, alone or listening to an audio book), doing a lot of hands on learning (we recently attempted to mummify a chicken for our study of ancient Egypt).
· We get to spend many more hours a day shaping their character and weaving God into every day life. To me this is the biggest “pro” of them all.
The first time we homeschooled we lived in a small town in South Dakota and there was not a lot of outside support. The school we pulled our 1st grader out of allowed us to send him back weekly for art class. In CO we could use the public schools for band and sports, etc.
When we were on campus, I looked for ways to incorporate our student friends into our homeschooling. One of our students in the ministry was a trained lifeguard and lived in an apartment complex with an indoor pool. I hired him to give my kids weekly swim lessons. Since the youngest wasn’t old enough to learn, I also enlisted the help of another student to come swim/play with him and help out. I used this time to go run errands sans kids. Beth Luebe told me she had a student friend come occasionaly and do art with her kids because she hated art! Her kids looked forward to this special time every week.
Drink Deeply from the Living Water
Homeschooling, especially as my kids have gotten older, has driven me to go deeper and more dependent on the Lord than I have had to be in a long time. I am desperate to fill myself up with His love and patience daily (sound familiar young mamas?). Since my kids are older and home all day, I have to be disciplined to make sure I get the time alone with Him that I need. That often means getting up extra early before their time to get up at 7am. It doesn’t always happen, but it is my goal. I also get one day a week where they are at enrichment classes. I try to guard that time to be alone with God and doing something refreshing and work uninterrupted.
God has led me the past two years to claim a verse for my homeschooling year. I art journaled my key verse at the beginning of each year to drive it deeper into my heart.
Walking and running (read: wheezing up and down hilly CO at a very slow pace) also keeps me motivated and refreshed. While I jog I listen to a podcast for part of the time to give me ideas and focus. Sarah Mackenzie’s Read Aloud Revival
is great for all parents, not just homeschoolers. Her book, Teaching from Rest,
is also a MUST read. Right now I’m reading 8 Great Smarts
by Kathy Koch – another treasure for all parents!
God has dropped several great mentors into my life that have successfully taught their kids at home. Their children all got into college and moved out of the home! Yay! I go to them often for advice. And on particularly hard days I send out emergency “Prayer Support Texts” to them. It always works! I have seriously found my PMS to all but go away when these women are praying! YAHOO!
Homeschooling isn’t the Only Way
“Every option, for every child, every year.” This motto I heard from Beth Luebe sums up our approach as we have now stopped and restarted homeschooling three times. It isn’t for everyone and may not be the right decision for you and your kids and that is OKAY! For our family I’m so glad (most hours) that this is where God has us for now. I have found it really is an extension of parenting. You have your good days and your bad days depending on who slept well and who didn’t (Mama included!).
The most important thing if you feel called to do this is to do it in LOVE (advice given to me by the wonderful Deb Entsminger). It won’t look perfect and will be messy, especially in the beginning. 1 Timothy 1: 5 says, “The aim of our charge is love…” This is my goal as I walk with Jesus, 3 boys, 2 rats and 1 co-dependent dog, through each day.
Blessings to you ladies as you lead your children – whether it is to a school outside your home or at your kitchen table!
Sherry joined staff in 1997. She robbed the cradle and married a handsome student (gasp!) named Jeff in 2000. Since then they have served in WI, SD and now in CO. They have 3 boys ages 7-12 and there is never a dull moment in their house. 2 years ago Sherry finally got her girl, a black and white lab mix who is her constant shadow. Jeff works with operations and training for collegiate. Sherry enjoys writing and encouraging mommy missionaries when she isn’t busy homeschooling.