My Present School Year
This Sunday I began my 11th year of homeschooling…that’s really crazy to think of! I still feel like such a newbie in a lot of ways, even though my oldest is starting 9th grade and logically I would be considered a veteran homeschooler. I have learned so much over the years, but I also feel like I have so much more to learn.
My fifth child is starting preschool this year, and that is what I have been the most excited for this fall. Preschool is just so fun! Especially when you don’t push and go at the child’s pace (a very painful lesson I have learned over the years). The excitement and enthusiasm they have for starting is just unmatched by any other age. And it feels almost sacred, teaching them the beginnings of what will lead them to the huge world of reading. I especially almost tear up when I think that teaching them their letter sounds now will enable them to someday read the beautiful words of the Bible; life changing words that will have an eternal impact!
It’s easy to be excited about teaching the more enthusiastic children (just look at the twinkly eyes of my fifth in the picture above)…but two of my five tend to be a bit more negative when it comes to schooling. And I know that’s partly my fault. I have not made school the most fun. Quite often I have made it the opposite of fun. How many times have I said, in a very frustrated tone, “Just please focus and get your work done so we can move on with our day!” Which reminds me of that famous CS Lewis quote:
I love listening to the Durenda Wilson podcast because it reminds me over and over again that homeschooling is not supposed to look like public schooling. In fact, that is one of the points of homeschooling! But this public educated mama sometimes forgets that. And she also lets the fear of what others will think affect her teaching (and parenting). She allows comparison to color her judgement. She lets the word “behind” have a little too much power in her life (and in more than just schooling).
As I pursue a life that leaves behind “frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living”, I’m rethinking how I approach schooling with my children. I only have four more years of teaching my oldest, do I really want all her educational memories to be full of stress???
I have homeschooled for 10 years now, but I am very much a work in progress. And that is ok. We all are. And I’m not sure what the changes I make will be yet, but I know I want more of this:
This morning started as it normally does: some of the children began their lessons as breakfast baked, including the preschooler and I. At one point I brought out some toy bugs with the cards that you are supposed to match them on to keep the toddler busy while I did a craft with my fifth. The bugs didn’t get put away before breakfast was ready, so they stayed on the table while the children ate. I sat down on the couch to write this blog and then looked up to see that the bugs had evolved into a zoo, and even the 12-year-old was playing along.
I could have reminded them that they needed to finish their food before playing. I could have scolded them for not putting away their dishes. I could have hurried them into getting their morning chores done so they could hurry into getting their school done so they could then have free time to play…but is that really the kind of people I want them to be? People who are always hurrying to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing so that finally, when (if???) they are ever done with all that hurrying, then they can enjoy life? No. Absolutely not.
I want my twelve-year-old to take the time to play with her siblings, because I want her to value relationships over productivity (that is a tough one, and I am trying to learn it myself!). Of course, I want her to be a diligent and responsible person as well. And she is. She played with them for a bit, then moved on to her school work. A good balance. That’s what I want. For me, too!
I’m going to leave you with this quote from the book I am reading, and I think you will see why this book has been tugging at my heart:
“The more I listen to myself, my body, my feelings, and the less I listen to the “should” and “must” and “to-do” voices, the more I realize my body and spirit have been whispering all along, but I couldn’t hear them over the chaos and noise of the life I’d created. I was addicted to this chaos, but like any addiction, it was damaging to me.”
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, page 61
My life will always be a bit chaotic (I homeschool six children, after all!), but I want it to be filled with the right kind of chaos. With impromptu zoos and tickling fights and spur of the moment trips to play miniature golf. With science projects gone wrong and failed foreign country recipes. With days on the calendar that say, “Stay Home!” in big, red letters (its soccer season, so that won’t happen til November, but it’s a good goal) so we have time to just rest and be.
I’m not sure if my ramblings are helpful to you, mamas, but I will ask this one question that I think is a good one:
What can you say “no” to so you can be more present today?
Lots of love,