We have encountered many challenges in home education. I don’t think this is the only “right” way to educate your child, it is the road we’ve decided to take with our family. I hope this is a source of encouragement to all parents, and is a particular inspiration to home educating families.
The first that comes to mind was when I realized that I had no idea what knowledge our son had in his brain. He had been in school from Kindergarten through 2nd grade. I ordered 3rd grade curriculum and he whizzed through it each day. I concluded that he was either brilliant or he already knew this stuff. Though he is quite bright, he had clearly already learned much of the material I was giving him. I had to re-assess, reorder curriculum and restart our year. This was my first, but very valuable lesson, “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try again.”
The next challenge came in the early months of our schooling when our dear son declared that he was ready to go back to school. I responded with a diplomatic, “This is a decision your dad and I have made, and we’re going to stick with it.” I doubted myself and our decision until a few days later when he spouted off that when he grows up and has children, they will be home schooled! He had a “moment”, most of us have had similar times. I have moments of frustration, fatigue, impatience, disorganization and discouragement. On a much brighter note; I have times of joy, peace, victory, happiness, patience, contentment and great accomplishment.
I am challenged with the fact that boys are different from girls. I do not always speak my son’s language of logic. Patience is a virtue that is “under construction” in our household!
On the flip side, girls are something else! It seems to me that one of my greatest accomplishments in life will be to teach my daughters to manage their emotions.
Drawing the line between parenting and teaching has been a little tricky. I try to choose daily to walk in love, grace and mercy as a mom, but in love and firmness as a teacher. Sometimes I slip and the lines blur.
It used to be difficult for me to manage the kid’s subjects and chores. A couple of years ago I started using a daily checklist for their subjects and chores. They manage their own schedules each day. I don’t nag or bug. It is so wonderfully liberating for me and I believe it is invaluable training for them, as they are learning to set priorities and manage their own time.
Most recently, last year to be exact, our daily schoolwork was feeling like a grind. After doing some reading, I fell in love with Charlotte Mason inspired home education. I perceived a “lightness” as I researched and read about literature based education, nature study, music and art appreciation. It is a little happier and lighter around the house this year, I think we’re each breathing easier-yet learning well.
I have been inspired and influenced by friends who are brilliant and super-organized, by those whose hearts are knit closely together with their children’s hearts, and by others who are diligently imparting love and training into their children each and every day. Through these families, I have been given a glimpse of beauty and a hope that I might be able to accomplish some of these things within our own home. There are many HE books that I would recommend, but the few that have most recently influenced me are; For the Children’s Sake, Charlotte Mason Companion and When Children Love to Learn.
There are a few things I wish I had known when we set out on this journey and some that I’ve learned along the way. Community is so important for healthy relationships, consistent encouragement and revelation. A whole-child education is wonderful; one that encompasses academics, relationships, health and growth. The processes in learning and life are just as valuable as the completion of a curriculum. The people in your care are more important than the things and the to-do’s in your life. Stop what you are doing, listen to your children, love on them and impart the ideals you deem worthy for a life well lived. I am continually faced with new challenges and rely fully on God, His guidance and provision.
I am so very thankful that in this world of home education, our lives are not over-scheduled. It is a rare thing these days for us to rush to and fro. I love that our children are not entertained twenty-four hours a day; they talk, read, think, create and play in their free time. I love learning with them, watching them grow and living life together; through thick and thin, good and bad-there is beauty to be found.