31 STORIES OF FAITH ADVENTURES
DAY 17: HOME SCHOOL - MY RELUCTANT ADVENTURE
Before James and I were married, we talked about having kids. We talked about how James thought it would be a good idea to home school. James had been home schooled most of his life, and he thought it was the best option. I vigorously disagreed. At the time, I had just had an ideal public school experience. Almost every teacher I had was a Christian. My biology teacher showed us Fantasia the week she was suppose to teach us about evolution. My school was medium sized, not so small that we had subpar teachers, but not so big that I had gotten lost in the crowd. Some of my teachers were even neighbors. I had Christian friends. There was a lunch time Bible study that I could attend.
Fast-forward to actually having a child. When our daughter was 3, there is about a billion places I wanted to put my baby girl before I stuck her in a classroom. I had a little cub. I was a momma bear, and my protective side had been heightened. My daughter was advanced verbally, and I knew she was ready to start learning how to read. I decided that I would just teach her some pre-school. A year later, I realized I had done too good of a job with our pre-school. I knew that she wouldn’t fit well into a mold of organized learning. She would be either board in a kindergarten class, or if I convinced a school to put her in 1st grade, she might be behind. Because she was a little sponge who learned quickly, she could possibly be board in a 1st grade classroom as well.
I decided to home school her for 1st grade and see how that went. By that time, we had found a home school group. We had a weekly outlet for making friends, playing, and fun learning activities.
Every school year ended the same. I would look at our options, and it was clear that home schooling another year was our best option.
No one ever told me how much home schooling would change me. I had to have faith in the fact that God was going to give me the ability to teach my children. Every year has been an exercise in faith.
Every year has been an education for me as well. I’ve learned Bible history, phonics, literature, and spelling right alongside my kids, as I filled in gaps in my public school education.
About five years into home schooling, I decided that I would go back to school and finish my master’s degree. I had to go take a standardized test similar to a SAT to apply for the masters program.
To my shock, I realized I scored better on the language portion of the exam than the mathematics section. That had never happened to me before. Part of the discrepancy was the fact that I had forgotten some of that upper level math I use to know. But that wasn’t the whole reason because I had scored above average in both areas. The fact was that my reading to my kids, teaching them to read, teaching them how to diagram a sentences, explaining unknown vocabulary had actually improved my language arts proficiency to a higher level than it had ever been at while I was enrolled in any formal education program.
I ended up only taking 4 classes out of the dozen I needed to earn my masters degree. I realized I didn’t want to be a CPA. I wanted to be at home with my kids reading books, at least for that phase of my life.
Home schooling also did something else for me personally. I became part of a community. I made home school mom friends that encouraged me. I was asked to be a treasurer on the home school association’s board. That meant that I got to know the other members of the board pretty well. They were good friends to me. They were prayer partners when I went through some rough stuff. They threw me a shower when I had my yurt baby. They shared their struggles with me so I could see that everyone has struggles, even those of us that look good on paper.
Other home school moms opened their homes for Bible study, curriculum discussion, and seasonal parties. Those ladies ministered to more women than most churches.
After nearly 5 years of group meetings with mom groups and our home school association’s mentor meetings, I realized I had been actively engaging in women’s ministry, something I thought I didn’t need or didn’t really want to be apart of. Those times of ministry built up my confidence in my abilities to parent and educate the kids God entrusted me with. Sure I learned about curriculum and education in those meetings, but more often than that I learned about God’s love, loving others, and how to grab hold of the fruits of the spirit when we want to grab hold of our hair and just pull it on out.
Now, if you’ve been reading this and you either don’t have kids or have no interest in home schooling. Let me assure you that my philosophy is this. First, we can learn from the struggles and joys of others, even if they are on a completely different path than you. And second, how any parent chooses to educate their children is a complex, vulnerable decision. The golden rule dictates that I should never question that decision. I have full confidence in someone else’s ability to make that tough decision for themselves. God equips me to parent my children. And dear reader, God equips you to parent your children.
My husband and I like to laugh. There is this famous morning radio bit that we often joke about, especially around autumn. The radio DJ does his best over-enunciated pastor’s voice and tells the listeners about the haunted house that his church will be hosting. One of the scary features of the tour will include “children who are public schooled.”
I know a joke is good when it hits on a nerve of truth. The home school community is notorious for making public school out to be the devil (or at least the bad guy.)
This doesn’t accomplish much, other that make our side feel spiritually superior. And feeling spiritually superior is the opposite of humility, a trait that we are called to as Christians nearly a hundred times in scripture.
I don’t think this egotistic attitude is out of cruelty. It usually stems from our insecurity as home school moms. As a home school mom, my greatest struggle has been convincing myself that I’m enough, that I’m doing a good job. Tearing down the other side is the short cut in propping ourselves up.
I’ve been as guilty of this tearing down as the next gal. It’s a physical struggle I face. When the opportunity comes, I have to take all my energy to keep my mouth closed and redirect my thoughts.
But the better work comes in looking to my loving Father and my gracious Savior to remind me of my value, my competency, and my worth.
If that message doesn’t resonate with the non-homeschooler, I don’t know what does.
What about you? Where are you struggling to see your worth? Where do you need to have faith in yourself, as He works in you, or in your Creator, Savior, Sustainer, Equipper, and Sanctifier?
If I don't include a Tim Hawkins song, I might loose my home school club card.