A New Chapter In Our Lives

It’s a Saturday morning, and I have been awake since 5:30 this morning.  My alarm now goes off at 6:30 a.m. on a week day, and I don’t have the luxury of hitting the snooze button.  I have half an hour to get up, get everyone else up and dressed, fed, and on the school bus in that time.

After tossing and turning for an hour this morning, I decided to get up, eat breakfast, and do some things before my children awake.  The “some things” I have done is checking FB, following up on some Ebay items, and now blogging.  I haven’t blogged this month, and I try to make it a goal to blog at least once every month.  I don’t know how those daily or almost every day bloggers do it.  I can’t seem to find the time to gather my thoughts let alone blog them.

Prior to a week ago, my normal awake time was 7:15 a.m.  That was then.  Now, it’s all changed.  We turned a new page in our lives.  It all started with discussions, prayer, and seeking advice concerning our school options for this year.

To not become bogged down in details and long explanations, suffice it to say, we felt the Lord leading us to put our two oldest boys in Christian school for this year.  I know my hard-core homeschooling friends will be perplexed.  That’s okay.  My public school friends will wonder what’s the big deal.  That’s okay too.  Let’s just say this was not an easy decision!  I was sad over it in many ways and a bit excited too.  I was sad because I do love many parts of homeschooling, and I was also sad because I was going to miss my boys. I was excited because I knew that when God calls us to do something, He always brings good from it.

I was excited because I knew that when God calls us to do something, He always brings good from it. 

I was also excited to know that I could really focus on Luke and Olivia.  I also knew that I would be plugging into some good ladies’ Bible studies this year.  I was and am eager to really have my soul fed so that I am more fully equipped to give to my children! 

I do have more time but not really for myself.  As a homeschooler, I thought that if my kids were in school, I would have “more time”.  I think I meant more time for myself.  I do have more time, but I use it to serve my family.  Let me explain.  In the mornings, I rush around getting my oldest two out the door then I start activities with my two youngest.  Since school started, this has involved taking Luke and Olivia to a park to meet up with friends, homeschooling Luke, doctor’s apts., etc…  The day we went to the park, we also bought groceries.  I then unloaded and put away the groceries, fed lunch to my children, put them down for naps, and then prepared snacks for my oldest two and met them at the school bus.  We then talked about their day, I took care of children who awoke from naps, I prepared dinner, we ate, I cleaned, we put children to bed, and I finished up with my chores, and we went to bed.  Get the picture?

What I found is this, I may not have as much quantity time with my two oldest, but I have quality time.  When I am with them, I am with them.  When my children are awake, I don’t focus on anything else besides meeting their needs (meals, baths, and bed-time) and spending time with them.  I don’t allow myself to do anything else.  When my kids were home all the time, I had to do other things when they were home.  It became easy for us to function independently apart from each other when we weren’t homeschooling.

We still sit down and have daily devotions together.  I ask the boys questions and listen, allowing them to talk about their day.  I go over their homework with them.  We also do fun stuff like lying on the hammock and reading books together.  Drew wanted me to play a Hooked on Phonics game together so we did that.  Will wanted me to read to him so I did that.  After supper, we took the kids to a park.  And yes, I am a mommy who runs around with her kids.  I went down slides too many times to count, I chased my kids around like a dinosaur, I laughed, giggled, hugged, and ran.  I love being an active, involved mommy!

I haven’t given up on homeschooling either.  We are only doing private school this year.  This is not a long-term, permanent decision.  I am also currently homeschooling my youngest son.  Once the two oldest are on the school-bus and Olivia is down for a nap, I sit down with Luke.  We do simple work-sheets/coloring sheets.  Then, we work on the next few lessons in Hooked on Phonics.  He is doing so well!  It is so exciting to see him learning and loving to read!  I am trying to set a good foundation so that next year, Lord-willing, if I am homeschooling all three again, he will be able to settle into the school schedule smoothly.

Our two oldest boys are settling into the school routine as well.  They were thrilled to be able to ride the school bus!  The novelty is wearing off a bit as the boys are on the bus, starting this week at 7:02 a.m..  School starts at 8:30 a.m.  They leave school at 3:10 p.m. but don’t get home ’till 3:55 p.m.  That’s a long time on the bus!  They have to change buses in the morning too before they arrive at school.  It’s a good thing the school bus is so exciting for them!

It’s also been reassuring to their former teacher (me) that the boys are doing so well academically!  They aren’t having any difficulty.  In fact, their work this week has been equivalent to what they learned in the beginning of Kindergarten and pre-school.  I know the work will increase in difficulty, but so far, it’s been a breeze for them.  Drew was very happy to tell me his first day that he was the only student that didn’t need help with reading.

I have also been pleased to hear my children’s desire to obey their teachers and follow the rules.

I am also thrilled that my kids have been looking out for the children in school who are struggling.  Will came home, telling me about the boy next to him in lunch that didn’t have a spoon nor many snacks.  The next day, Will took extra snacks and a spoon for this same child.  Will also told me about the boy who sits next to him in the classroom who was crying because he was having trouble with reading.  Will said that he asked the boy to play with him in recess.  Compassion like that thrills this mommy’s heart!

I am also relieved that my boys have recess together and their classrooms are next door to one another.  I have encouraged Will to look out for Drew on the playground and on the bus.

With every venture in life, not only are there the joys but also the challenges.  I can see the not so pleasant aspects of the institutionalization of education.  When you have to feed the masses, you have to create a program that is geared to the average/basic student.  The program is also created to operate efficiently, and they hope effectively.  Children are taught to quickly conform.  Children become a cog in the wheel.  They either learn to work cohesively with the whole or they get “kicked out” so to speak.  It’s the job of teachers to not only run an efficient program but to get the average child to learn the average material.  The difficulty is for the teacher to still be able to deal with the child whose temperament or abilities don’t fit into the average scenario.  It’s also a challenge to teachers to still see the individual needs, personalities of their students.  To cohere their teaching and interactions based on each individual student.

This is where homeschooling has a great advantage.   No one knows her child as best as the mother, unless the mother is horribly selfish, immature, or abusive.  In the home environment, the educational program can be based around the child’s needs and abilities.  In homeschooling, you can work around the child; rather, than having the child work around the school’s program. 

In homeschooling, you can work around the child; rather, than having the child work around the school’s program. 

Some adaptation to discipline within a school environment is good for children.  Some of the institutionalization is not so good.  For example, my kids never have time to eat all their lunch.  They come home extremely thirsty (dehydration).  My one son also said he wound up wetting his pants a little because he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom right when he needed to go.  This bothers me.  A lot.

The institutionalization of the masses means that individual needs get overlooked.

Individual needs can also get overlooked in a family too.  Moms can easily get bogged down in trying to deal with children of many different ages and needs, household chores, chauffeuring, and the fact that they have the students living with them on a 24/7 basis.  Moms can reach “burn-out” levels quickly. 

I have seen homeschooled children who have not been adequately academically, emotionally, or socially prepared for dealing with or ministering to this world.  The truth is there are no easy solutions or answers.  There aren’t going to be!  True success or excellence doesn’t come from mediocrity in efforts or performance.

True success or excellence doesn’t come from mediocrity in efforts or performance.

We’ll not see good things — certainly not excellent things — develop in our children without a lot of sweat, tears, prayers, and effort on our part.  It will mean falling on our faces but learning to see that’s one of the best places to be in order to see our need for God’s grace.  It means recognizing that the end goal is not that we homeschooled our kids or schooled them some other way.  It means not making our children’s method of education our god.  It means recognizing that the calling of Christian parents is to raise godly children.  The goal is to raise. Godly children. Who love the Lord.  Period.

The goal is to raise. Godly children. Who love the Lord.  Period.

As parents, we must each answer before God as to what methods we use and how we use them.  We must be humble.  We must be attentive.  We must be patient.  We must be selfless.  We must be prayerful.