This was previously posted on Lyndsay’s site as part of a series on mothers, but I wanted to include it for part of my archives.
I am a newbie homeschooler. I have four children, two of which are attending the local public highschool and are doing very well as I document here
. My oldest graduates this year (in 83 days to be exact) so I’m in general quick to tears and completely unable to remember my middle name most days. At the end of the last school year, my 8 year old begged me to homeschool her. And since I had recently quit my profession as a family practice physician and was feeling a little lost in a sea of purposelessness, and because I love books and learning and had secretly always wanted to homeschool, I agreed to shoulder the responsibility of my children’s education. It seemed a more meaningful alternative than offering free pap smears out of the back of my SUV, which would have at least fulfilled my need to participate in serving humanity.
It was a whirlwind of a summer. I read every book on classical education I could find and scoured countless blogs of real life stories of homeschoolers in every attempt to make sure I would not be caught off guard…..and then set out to transform my garage into a schoolroom(shown above). We settled on a curriculum called The Well-Trained Mind with a heavy emphasis in history, great books, and memorization. The first month I printed a computerized schedule that catalogued every 15 minute increment of every day. My goals were lofty and my need to check things off the list strangled out the geniune love that I have for my children and for learning. In violent reaction to my self-imposed web of stuffy structure, I made all manner of resolutions, and even one pinky swear, never to interrupt pure children’s play again. I kept that vow until we got behind in math. And then I announced, in no uncertain terms, to my pupils that, “All pinky swears are null and void until you can count by 25’s to 400. And back. Mmmkay? Step away from the legos.
My maiden voyage into the tempestuous waters of homeschooling has been a bit akin to when Odysseus left Troy after rescuing Helen. Poseidon, the raging greek god of the sea, must have had it in for me. These waters seemed to toss me about with little regard for the fact that I had never had proper lessons in sailing or fishing and would prefer to decorate the boat to actually navigating it. And that is what landed me in my bathroom sobbing uncontrollably for two hours, which I painstakingly detail in this post
. But as the scriptures claim that God’s mercies are new every morning and as March ushers in spring , I find that I finally seem to have found my ‘sea-legs’. And as all veteran homeschoolers that I know have assured me, any semblance of ‘staying afloat’ the first year is a success. All that belaboring aside, homeschooling my children has been one of the greatest joys of mothering. I know them more intimately and have been able to gently shepherd their hearts.
The frantic pace of life seems to have slowed down a bit.
There’s time for holding baby dolls and making great food.
There’s time for seed gardens and digging in dirt.
……there’s time for sewing skirts (that are clearly too short and require leggings) and for painting laundry room cabinets.
And since we’ve been entrenched in studying the ancient Greeks, there’s time to stage battles between Greece and Persia. And even time to spray paint the soldiers.
We sometimes take our books outside and do our math as we watch daffodils poke through the ground.
We commit more to memory than I ever dreamed was possible for young children. We’ve memorized eleven poems, thirty verses of scripture, the catechism of the ten commandments, and a long history and bible catechism that covers from Genesis to the time of the Greeks.
My girls have developed a love for reading and have read many great books this year such as Popper’s Penguins, Babe, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and the Magic Treehouse books, just to name a few. They’ve listened to lots of books on tape and have enjoyed stories such as Little Women, The Railway Children, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Tale of Desperaux, among others.
We recently made Bucephalus (the horse of Alexander the Great) and then rode around the house all afternoon ‘on horseback’. We listen to classical music and sometimes stay in our jammies until 10. Or 11. We ride bikes, memorize latin, look for birds, and watch dance tutorials on YouTube. We sing and chant grammar jingles and read stories that take us to foreign lands.
We have enough organization to keep us honest…..
and enough bubble gum to keep us smiling.
There are days when I feel completely overwhelmed and inadequate. There are days when I’m not sure that I am the best teacher for my children. There are days when I’m drowning in books and dirty laundry and whining. But this is my vocation. This is where God has placed me, the job He has given me to do. I purpose to be thankful for today, for these children, for this chance to teach them, to shepherd their hearts and fill their minds with truth and wisdom. Maybe this is what Christ had in mind when He called us to be fishers of men.
I leave you with a quote from a book I’m reading aloud to them called Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. It has some of the most beautifully constructed sentences that I believe I’ve ever read. I guess I wish for my girls days like those Rose, the protagonist of the story, enjoyed.
“Rose leaned where she was, and fell to thinking how many good times she had had lately, for the gardening had prospered finely, and she was learning to swim and row, and there were drives and walks, and quiet hours of reading and talking……she could work and play all day, sleep sweetly at night, and enjoy life with the zest of a healthy, happy child.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit is that homeschooling seems to foster lifelong learning for us all. They see me reading and learning and memorizing right along with them. We learn and love and live….together.