homeschooling…an (honest) update

Last Friday marked the end of our first quarter (according to my self-designed school calendar, of course) and so I thought I’d give a brief update on how it is going. Maybe you’ve guessed already after reading the title above?  Yes, indeed, this has been a challenge.  Of monumental proportions.  At first, I hesitated to admit this.  Wouldn’t it be nicer if I could report that everything is just peachy and each night I retire to bed feeling completely satisfied and fulfilled?  It would be nice, and I really really really want to tell you that.  But, (swallowing pride) that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

Okay, so now you know.  Homeschooling is not the easiest thing I’ve done.  It’s exhausting, to be honest.  A good kind of exhausting some of the time and a Lord Have Mercy kind of exhausting the rest.  I know that starting up with 5 kids at once (5th grade, 4th, 1st and 2 pre-K’s) is going to require much; organization, patience and prayer.  I’m struggling to stay organized, really struggling to be patient, and clinging (and I mean clinging, like stopping in the middle of pleading-uh-teaching and falling to my knees to beg for deliverance kind of prayer).  Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic maybe, but it feels that way sometimes.  Did I just say sometimes?  Okay…moving on.

With all that said, I would respond to anyone who asks, and lots do, that I am glad that I made this decision and yes, I would do it over again.  What I’m realizing (painfully) is that I am the student in this family in need of the most change.  I ask myself, on those days where I find myself sweating and crouching in the corner and it’s only 8:15 am, why on earth am I doing this!  And the answer is always there before the words even leave my lips.  God knows I need it.  Yep…in the midst of all this stress and chaos that I feel, I must remember that this is a really a gift.  I thought early on that I would be up for this task in order to provide something wonderful for my children.  I wonder what God thought about my noble plan as I declared it to myself and Him?  I suspect it was this; educating my children at home will not only be an education for them, oh no.  It’s just as much (more, I’m convinced now) an education for me.  And there is the gift.  I have learned much about myself in these short couple of months.  It has been a lifetime of questions, really, all come to the forefront at once.  What really matters to me in a day – where are my priorities – what am I willing to give up – am I willing to trust?  For a self-admitted control freak (I wish I could think of a nicer way to put it), this has been humbling.  I like to have things in order.  I function much better with a sense of control over my life.  At least I think I do.  But now I find myself asking, what does it mean to really thrive?  I’m trying to work it all out, and being in the middle of this I don’t have a well-stated answer.  And, for heaven’s sake,  I am the furthest thing from a person who should be giving advice.  So, why do I share this?  I guess in order to humble myself.  And by doing so – admitting my shortcomings and weaknesses- that maybe someone will be encouraged by it?  Maybe there is another struggling mom who happens to read this who only needed to hear that she is not alone in her struggles.  That is what I hope.  And I know, with all confidence, that God’s ways are mysteriously perfect.  Only God could use my imperfect words to benefit someone else.

I do want to add that there are really, really great days.  A lot of them.  I am blessed to be able to have my children with me during the day.  I don’t take this for granted.  Even on the really tough days, I have to say that (so far), I’ve not been tempted to send them all back off to school.  I’ve honestly had days where I can’t believe I’m allowed to do this (kind of like that feeling when you have a brand new baby and you can’t believe they are letting you take it home)… There has been real joy.  And actually, there has been real satisfaction, too.  And not just sparingly.  It’s a strange world of experiencing pain and struggling followed by soul-nourishing joy all within 10 minutes, homeschooling is.  Parenting is that way, too.

Some other things I love about homeschooling so far?  The flexibility.  We’ve discovered lots of great resources in our community that we never would have otherwise.  And we have the time to participate in them.  I’m so grateful for this.  Another thing, one of the best actually, is that my children are spending  their days together.  The influence that “friends” can have is powerful on these young kids.  Sometimes it can be a gift to them, sometimes not.  I am exceedingly grateful for the dear friends that my kids have, don’t get me wrong.  I think it is vitally important for them to be “socialized”.  If I thought in any way that educating at home would cut them off from developing relationships with other children, I wouldn’t even have considered it.  On the other side of the coin, peer pressure can be a very negative thing.  Sometimes, kids can think their friends are way cooler than their family and can decide that they would be much happier spending lots and lots of free time with their cool friends instead of their siblings and parents.  This can still happen while being homeschooled, I’m aware.  But I am witnessing my children deepening their relationships with each other during our school day when normally they wouldn’t be together.  It helps them to stay connected, I believe.  Another gift, for sure.

Make known to me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths.

Guide me by your fidelity and teach me, for you are God my savior,

for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25: 4-5

* The photos were taken this past weekend at a beautiful park reserve about an hour away from our home.  The three boys spent the afternoon at a wilderness survival skills camp.  Being that it was a distance away, I decided not to make the trip twice and the girls and I hung out at the park most of the time.  It was such a beautiful afternoon – have I mentioned how much I love fall?  I had lots of time to play around with my camera, but mostly just realized that I have so much to learn!