Repetition is My Friend {6 Lessons Learned in 13 Years of Homeschooling}

It's coming. It seems like we've barely turned the calendar on August, but you know these last days of summer go the fastest. Are you squeezing out every last drop? Planning last minute trips and letting the kids sleep in another day?

Or are you wrung and ready for the next season?

The busy started Monday for us. Football and volleyball, and today I'm hammering away at preparations for another school year - ordering books and picking dates and praying. Lots of feverish praying.

boy in creek

 

I started a list of some of the things I've learned in 13 years of homeschooling. I wanted to have one for every year, to keep it all "13 Things I've Learned in 13 Years", but I've found that for the most part I just keep learning the same things, over and over.

There are just some things God wants me to know really well, I guess.

Here's a partial list:

1. Consistency is better than green grass. Or, the owner of the Better Homes and Gardens yard...is tired. I've worn myself out looking at the newest and the best and the guaranteed-to-produce-a-well-rounded-genius. There will always be something else and something more, but the best results have come from consistent love, consistent discipline, consistent time, and consistent prayer. And sometimes that just means that I consistently start over, doing what I know is needful. 

2. The best curriculum is the one you'll use. This relates to #1. I've learned that if something is too teacher-intensive and requires me to spend an extra hour each week in planning and preparing, it will sit on the shelf until I find some ambitious mother-of-one or SuperMom to buy it from me. I need simple. Simplicity = Consistency.

3. Homeschool moms are o-pin-ion-ated. I'm a homeschool mom. I've learned to shut my mouth unless asked for my opinion, for the most part. I really learned this in the two years that we spent at a Classical charter school. We attended classes 3 days a month and the rest of our schooling happened at home, but because it was a charter school and therefore publicly funded, there were some who scratched me off their Homeschool Mom list. It was good. I learned that I, too, have judged the way others choose to teach their children.

4. You are you, and I am me. For many years, I stopped reading homeschooling blogs and magazines. I grew weary of trying to keep up with the Martha Stewarts of homeschooling and the comparison I always felt. I have begun reading a few again this past year, and I realize that I have gotten to a point where I can sift the information and ideas without feeling overwhelmed or less-than. I've learned that in homeschooling, as in life, there are people who can do more and handle more and commit to more than I can. And that's okay. I'll just leach their good ideas and benefit from their efforts.

5. It's okay to say no. We are tempted to create so many opportunities for our kids - homeschooled or not. Sign up for this and volunteer for that and be sure to apply for here, and don't forget to buy such-and-such so they can go to so-and-so and learn this-or-that. Just say no. Save your sanity and your children's childhood and all of your time.

6. Jesus is not a school subject. He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He doesn't fit in a box or a curriculum, and we don't check Him off a list. If we handle a secular book, we handle it with the mind of Christ. When we study our Bibles, we study to find Christ. There was never a curriculum that Jesus died for, so we handle everything outside the Bible as the word of men and hold it up to the light of Christ - Christian publisher or not.

Whether it's public, private, home or any other educational path we are blessed to choose in this country, may it be for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

What have you learned? Have any great ideas or nuggets of wisdom I could leach? Leave them in the comments and let's encourage all the weary mamas. 

 

On Monday Struggles and Gift-Giving

Struggle is part of the gift I was unprepared for Monday, but you know how it comes anyways.

It comes all flouncy and plops down on your planner and just rolls in all the blank space, rubbing it in and purring like that cat. That annoying cat.

I felt like a type-A mom living in a type-B house and the anxiety was flooding us all, up to our necks. It was drowning out every ounce of kindness. 

And the thing is, I'm not really a type-A person. It's just that Mondays can make me feel that way.

So I struggled to be patient and the kids struggled to be cheerful and we didn't get breakfast until 10:30 for crying out loud. Not until 10:30, because there were so many first-things to be done. 

And the only thing hunger fuels is anger.

One fifth of the people at breakfast weren't grumpy, so that one was elected to pray for the grumpy rest-of-us.

I prayed, too, but it was jumbled up repentance and bewilderment and just mostly whining. I wanted to suddenly be prepared and peaceful, to have all my procrastination covered over, and I was just going to be grumpy until that happened.

(I'm this stellar example to my kids, you see.) 

But prayer is not this magic wand we wave. The day continued to be a Monday and all my unpreparedness bore it's ugly fruit, but God did remind me of something my husband had said over the weekend, in regards to struggle.

Struggle is part of the gift, part of the offering to God.

Struggle can seem like the thing that gets in the way of the offering. It feels like struggle is preliminary and annoying and that once we get through this struggle, then we can offer to God whatever gift we think we bring.

But like David at the threshing floor, I realized for a moment that I don't want to give to God something that cost me nothing.

And looking at it that way changed my attitude a little. Which changes everything a lot.

I looked at the far-end goals out there, the ones we all have for our children and their futures and their relationships, and then I pulled the focus in and looked at right now.

Right now, in the struggle and the kinds of days where you just want to go to bed and start over tomorrow, this is part of the future and part of the offering.

And after David bought the threshing floor and after God had told him that his son would build the temple, not David himself, he spent his time preparing for it. He gathered and planned and instructed for his son's future.

It was a process.

We struggle to get to the "good stuff", but that struggle is part of the process that bears fruit. It's part of the gift of ourselves that we give to the Lord, because in His great Grace He's given us everything already. 

I get bogged down in the daily-ness of the struggle, but looking at the process as part of the offering, and not just an obstacle on the way to an end goal, gives me hope for today. 

And I'm thankful that there is grace for all our Mondays and all our imperfect processes.

 

On a Winter's Day {Why I make them go outside}

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. ~ 3 John 1:4

We walk through snow and ice and sometimes we wear rubber boots. Three days a week, I tell them, just three times are you required to get out here and raise your heart rate a little.

There are complaints and pleas, there is sometimes a giving-in, but these minds need air and the cold just makes us walk faster.

forest

 

I am teacher-mom, and that means I have to be the whistle-and-gym-shorts kind, too. Or in our case, the layered-up goof with ear muffs and a camera around her neck.

I even bought umbrellas, because it's Oregon and we are nearly aquatic. There'll be no weather-related excuses.

So we walk and there are kids spread out for a quarter-mile in front and behind me, some of them trying to keep up and some of them trying to break free, I think. I annoy them with my camera and my pep-talks, with my smile and my Pollyanna-isms.

"Look at how the buds are coming on the trees!"

"Oh they put fresh gravel down!"

"If you are cold you could always run!"

I annoy them because I stop to take pictures, because I walk too fast, because I run circles around them sometimes in my goofy tights and neon yellow shirt.

I think they love me anyway.

eyes to see

I am freezing and there are at least 30 other things I could be doing at the moment but we walk. Out and back, the same route, and sometimes we talk or hold hands or race home.

Sometimes there are just 5 separate people, walking alone but in the same direction.

I think we're making memories that will be stored up for one day, for a day when we can't take walks together and make each other laugh with our cheesy jokes. I want them to see all the joy I see and be satisfied with the simple things like frost on branches and budding twigs.

So when we go for a walk and they complain, I press on because I know it's the moments that are important and the years are only made up of so many. I press on because I know that seeing takes practice, and nothing is perfect so we take the imperfect and find God there.

I know that the exercise profits a little. I know that it's cold and torturous and there are other things to do but this moment has to freeze and we have to seize it.

And I know that there is always a truth to see in walking. Not a Pollyanna, look-at-how-the-ice-forms-on-my-eyelashes attempt, but a true Truth that the seasons change, the ground freezes under you, but everywhere in every corner God is at work.

That's the Truth I want my children to walk in.

rose bush in winter

 

The world will tell them otherwise, that the ground freezes and the leaves fall because there is no God at work. They will have people try to tell them to take the easy road, to stay warm and comfortable. To live in ease and find beauty only in the work of their own hands.

Not so, my children.

I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the whole truth of this created world and the God who made it and them.

See how the tree buds after a long winter.

See how the road is made firm for our walking.

See how far you can run.

 

 

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose #TellHisStory,  and Crystal at Thriving Thursdays