Friday, July 29, 2011

Taking My Own Advice

It always happens around this time of year.

I get asked for homeschooling advice.

This flatters me and makes me scared all at the same time.

What makes me nervous is when I hear: You must be so organized... You always have it all-together. Or more recently, You seem like you're a pro!

Oh that those things were true!

But they aren't.

Which is why I get twitchy.

Unfortunately my response to this young mom was probably not what she was expecting, and in re-reading my reply, was more vague than I intended.

Homeschooling isn't half as romantic as I thought it would be, but its ten-fold the blessing, which I never expected! Remember that some days are going to be AWESOME! And some, well, they're just gonna be hard and you'll wonder if your kids will end up dumb as stumps... but its ALL worth while!
 I think its great that you are going to homeschool! As far as advice... practice grace - with yourself, with your kids. Expect things to take less time and more time, all at once! Remember that home education is not like traditional schooling... your kids will learn so much more than their A-B-C's, things that cannot be measured or tested, and many won't understand...but that that is OK! 
Prayer is the one thing that gets you through, and the first thing you'll set aside... pursue prayer! You can't live without it! (that is true for traditional or home education!)  
What I should have said was this:

On more days than not every table in the house is covered with something...

it might be books,

or laundry,

or (many) unfinished projects.

(I act like it doesn't bother me... often it does.)

There are usually clean dishes left drying on the stove top (which is a terrible place to dry your dishes... but I do it anyway.)
... not to mention open cupboards and popcorn on the floor.
Organization happens, but it isn't done quickly, and is often done in short increments of time over many days... like this pile of new school supplies that have been laying in the hall way.

Most days... I can't find my red pen (even though I have a dozen):

I don't often wear make-up when school keeps us at home,

... but I wear a furrowed-brow more than I should...

You may have to click on the picture to see the furrow-ness... it's there, I promise.

I'm impatient.

Quick to assume the worst.

I fail to see the good things when there is so much good to be seen.

I make schedules that I can't always keep.

My projects often don't work.

I waste precious time on things that aren't important.

But the biggest mistake I make every blessed day?

I forget that I am called to this gig with dual purpose... I am not to simply teach my kids, but to train them. Teaching is when I impart my knowledge (or that of the text in front of me) and it is important.

But training is when I come along side them and actively help them  to "develop habits, thoughts and behavior by discipline and instruction" and it requires (a lot of) time, (a lot of) grace, and (a lot of ) repetition.

Training is often where I fail.

Time, grace and repetition are places in which I am the most greedy, the most selfish... and its what my children need of me the greatest.

I am quick to compare, and slow to prayer.

Oh! the struggle is fierce in this place, not just in my role as a mother and an educator, but personally as well.

In the midst of all that is imperfect, I forget to be thankful.

I stumbled across a blog post this week that expressed much more eloquently what I was trying to say...

When we give thanks, we gain joy. All of us. These daily lessons looking for grace is the way we see God even here.
Because what will the math really matter if they are bitter? If the house is immaculate — but my attitude a mess? If they can count — but they don’t know how to count all things as joy? If we get the lists done, but have lost happiness in Him? How can any grammar skill outweigh the fact they don’t know the language of grace and thanks? What good will it be if they can recite all the major British battles — but they don’t know to see beauty? What am I teaching our children if I’m not living simply, quietly this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). Focusing on what is beautiful, good, true –isn’t this the truest education? - Ann Voskamp
Ultimately I want my students, my children, to learn what they need to know to be successful in life, but if I do not train them to see the Joy in life, to see passed the to-do lists and the syllabus, then I have failed them. Those things are chaff on the wind, here today and gone tomorrow, they add nothing to the value in the hearts of my children. Or mine!

If I'm honest I must tell you that I struggle with these things. I want the romance of homeschooling, and I am surprised when it is not. I want the facade of the clean house and perfect kids, but it just doesn't exist.

This is my homeschooling reality. Its my life.  And you know what? Its been an amazing experience for our kids, our family, for me.

Still looking for advice?

Me too.

This morning I'm right here with you. Refilling a prescription to my own medicine:

The romance of homeschooling is in the hindsight vision... but the joy of homeschooling is giving thanks in advance.

May I live this out in the coming year.


Anonymous said...

Great post.. great encouragement to those of us trying to start!

Andrea said...

What a fantastic post and I absolutely agree! It is not all roses and rainbows but I wouldn't have it any other way. The good out weighs the bad:-)

Kim@stuffcould.... said...

I need this advice since I do not know how the clutter keeps coming to me...I will get it done but yes I focus on the good.

Anonymous said...

Our theme verse is Prov 24:3,4. Your post reminds me of it.

p.s. Science can do that to your brow.
- Bev

Jennifer M. said...

This is great advice actually -- that homeschooling is more than just the romantic notion of it. It's messy and real and joyous and tiring. I think that's what people want to know anyway -- what's it REALLY like? as opposed to just what it's advertised to be.

Claudia said...

about everything you said: so, you're human, just like all of us. I'm not a mother, but I woudn't mind being one like you. Keep it up! Be blessed!

Gretchen said...

Wow, Kellie. This was an amazing post. After our not-so-charming first week back, I really needed to hear this.