I get phone calls from friends and emails from strangers. "I'm not doing enough . . . I feel like a failure . . . Are my kids going to be okay? . . . I think I need to just put my kids back in school." Many of us agonize over the education and the quality of education we are giving our children. Many of us evaluate our homeschooling journeys. Daily.
When I read "Schooling Well" this morning, I had to put my fingers to the keyboard. I know the author didn't have ill intentions. She wants to challenge us to do our best for the glory of God. I completely agree with the overtone of her post, but I don't agree with some of the undertones.
The article is geared to those who are running here, there, and everywhere (not giving their kids an academic education), but her admonition seems to encompass a larger circle when she states that many homeschooling families are not truly preparing their children academically. This is why my fingers are on fire.
This author and I, we see the homeschooling community with two different sets of eyes. She sees and speaks to families who aren't doing enough, but that's not what I see.
I see do-more, start-earlier, academics-are-life, do-more-do-MORE, sit-sit-sit, I'll-teach-you-and-you-WILL-learn, I'll-stuff-you-so-full-that-you-will-never-be-hungry. I see over-preparation– to the point of annihilation of a child's natural love to learn. I see moms struggling to keep up. I see moms brow beating themselves because they aren't doing enough. And, I believe articles like "Schooling Well" are another kick . . . another prick in the mind of an insecure mom, making her wonder if she is screwing up her kids for life.
Another problem I have with the article is the fear-factor. What if I did kick the bucket tomorrow? My boys don't sit at desks. They have never had a formal history or science curriculum; I put off grammar until later. Instead of workbooks and textbooks, I present as many real and relevant learning opportunities as possible (including lots of outings) for my children. If I were a goner, I know what would happen if my kids were plopped into school. They would struggle (um, just like I struggled . . . just like my brother struggled . . . just like my genius-man struggled– kicking and fighting the whole way). I'm not going to play the what-if game. Tomorrow will worry about itself. I'm going to seize each piece and every parcel – all the advantages of home education. I'm going to do things differently than a flawed and failing system. I am not going to prepare my kids for possible entry into that system.
I don't know what God's given you. A child who is struggling to read at 12 years old? An auto-immune disease? A husband who is deployed? An unexpected death? I don't know. I am going to challenge you to do this home education thing to the glory of God, but sisters, please know that academics are only academics. Just ask my friend who went to college not knowing who Abraham Lincoln was. She came out with a degree. She was starving to learn, and she ate it up.
For the record, I don't believe academics are ZERO, but I am saying they take second place to REAL things (real discipleship, real people, real learning, and real life). I work hard to give my kids a strong foundation in the Three Rs. I'm all about it, but if you are at a place where you can't do that right now, here is what you can do.
1. Pray. Ask God for help to do right by your children. Ask Him to show you what they really need. Ask Him for the grace to give it to them.
2. Disciple. Walk by the way with your kids. Point them to God. Show them how His fingerprints are everywhere and on everything.
3. Stop. Stop looking around at others and stop the comparison. Your kids were given to you by God who knew every circumstance you'd face while they were in your care.
Yes, do your best for the glory of God . . . and know that it's going to look different for each and every mom.