Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Never Say Never

We have all heard the saying. We know what it means: whatever it is we said "never" about is exactly what comes to pass. I have had it happen in my own life before. For example, I said, " I will never marry an engineer!" Yet when I met and fell in love with my husband Doug, I couldn't care less that he was an engineer by profession. When people called me on it, I answered "Oh, well, he is a civil engineer and that's totally different..."

Now I face another instance where I (silly me) said "I will never be likely to homeschool my children." It looks as though now I will have to eat those words and I will be glad of the meal because it has been such a "God thing" in my life. Here is how it happened…

Last week some time I was watching a commercial for "back to school" and the dad was going through the aisles of a stationery store throwing things in his basket and sing-songing "They're going back to school! They're going back to school!" as he danced along. The thought came to me, "I am not leaping for joy that the kids are going back to school, why is that?" I reviewed in my mind the things that happened over the past couple of years that made the school year more stressful for me. So many deadlines; things that I needed to send along to class or sign and date everytime I turned around; seemingly endless pages of what-not pouring into my home as they came back in the door; and struggling for hours over homework with my child who isn't inclined toward busywork (write the same thing over and over and turn it in tomorrow).

So I asked a woman I trust what her day looked like as a home-schooling mom. She assured me that most of the above concerns went away. In their place was the burden of directing and planning your own child's learning, but with the right curriculum that would be provided for you to a great degree. The plus side was that you could utilize the tools and set your own deadlines (not even that strong of a term, more like reach your goals) as you saw fit and in the way that fit your family's schedule and your children's different learning styles.

Because my schedule is so regimented due to the dietary and medical factors, it seemed a great relief to me to not have the school telling me what my kids had to accomplish and when. But also because of the structured way that we live, I knew it would not be hard to keep to a healthy schedule of learning for the school year.

The thing that seemed most daunting as I considered home school was choosing the curriculum. I have an aversion even to the word, "curriculum". When asked to help out in a Sunday School class, I cringe when they hand me a book and say, "Here is your curriculum and it tells you everything you have to do for today's lesson." What that usually means is that I have my own ideas about how to share the story of the 'loaves and fishes' and don't want to have to follow someone else's idea of how the whole hour should go.

Still, as I looked to giving my kids what they need for their grade level I was glad to know that the course of study would be mapped out and it was just a matter of selecting which plan would be best for my children and me. I am still nervous, but when I looked at things online and even saw a course that I used as a child in grades 7 and 8 I felt more comfortable delving into them to find the right one (s) for us.

The other thing that has been impressed on my mind as I pursued this idea is the huge group of supporters I have in my life who have gone the way before me. I have a close family member, a very close friend and upwards of 8 or more women I have befriended at church who are doing this and have been more than willing to come along side me as I step forward. One of the things most lacking since we have been dealing with diabetes is a lack of support for me. I have often felt isolated and alone. The wealth of support from moms already as I share with them about homeschool gives me hope that this is going to be one of the greatest blessings God has in store for me as I go forward in this plan.

God has been so clearly guiding me in a 180 from "never" to "why not?" to "by all means". I have been amazed. I know that it is Him because it is so not what I would have done on my own, and yet it came from within me not by someone's persuasion outside. It has brought me closer to Him because I know that He understands and is with us in every aspect of our life from the life-threatening decisions to the life-changing ones. Right now I am in a honeymoon phase where I can see the numerous benefits that our family will enjoy as we live by and make our own schedule for the year. With working vacations that are not at the same time as everyone elses, and field trips that are educational as well as fun and days off when we find it suits us best or when health and necessity demands. The flexibility makes so much relief in sight. Yet I know that the reality will bring me back to earth before too long and I will struggle in this first year to have the kids adjust to learning from me.

I once thought that being with them so much more of the time would be a hardship and I kept telling myself that I needed that time when they were away at school. What was really the case, though, is that school, while it gave me a few hours of time to do errands or chores, it also added all those things that became a bane to me. On the other hand, I saw this summer that having the kids with me everyday all the time was not nearly so much of a burden as I imagined it would be. Knowing that, I feel more ready to keep them home with me as the year goes on. It feels as though the messages I was telling myself were not how the situation really turned out to be. I was not easier on me to have them at school and it was not harder on me to have them home. This is the main hurdle that I have overcome in my journey from public school to homeschool.

The other main objection I raised in the past if anyone asked me was "I am not a teacher!" I don't have the inclination or the patience to communicate with children in a learning setting. I can do it with adults, no problem, but not with children. However, God has shown me over and over just in these weeks of summer how my kids come to me and ask questions about the world around them and I have teachable moments with them all the time. Besides, those of you who know my story know how I went from "not being a math genius" to utilising math everyday as I deal with the diabetes. So I am being grown in new areas and this is just another example of "never say never." Now I see and am excited about the myriad of things my kids and I will discover and learn together. Such a God thing as it is the opposite of where I was before! I have such hope and am convinced that He will bless our family as we follow Him in obedience to move forward in this decision.

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