Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homeschooling...How I Got Started.

If you have followed my blog at all you will have certainly figured out by now that I have not been one to dream about my future, let alone think about the future. All that to say homeschooling was never a dream of mine nor had I thought much about it until my first child was born.

I had been a elementary school teacher for about seven years in New York City. I worked both in the Catholic schools and in the Public Schools. Not that these institutions are the alpha and omega in education, but from what I had seen on the homeschool front I was not impressed with that either.

There were a few families in my Northern church that were homeschooling their children and honestly, I saw more neglect than what I had expected. I thought the homeschooling family would be energized, focused, learning above and beyond what I was doing in the NYC public schools. I thought there were field trips and learning never ended. What I saw, not so much. Not only that, when the teenagers of these families graduated high school they had no ambition to do anything with their lives. None of them went off to college, pursued the sciences, or had dreams or visions of changing the world, or for that matter touching the neighborhoods in which they lived. Needless to say, homeschooling my children was not going to be an option after the example I saw first hand. And if you're sensing that I held a judgement toward homeschooling, well, all I can say to that is- you're right. I was judgemental towards homeschoolers after that experience and critical too, I might add, that it could be done right. But like with everything in my life when I tell the Lord, "THAT is not for me," He finds a way to tear down my judgements, and my fears, so I could walk in obedience to His calling.

When I became pregnant with our first child and I knew that I was to stay at home and raise him I began thinking about his future. It's funny how he was only a few months old and I was already thinking about his future education. It didn't take me long to change my tune, mostly because of my experience in the varied school systems, I knew that I had to homeschool my son.

When my son was only eight months old we left New York and moved to the south. Upon arriving here I thought, "Well, I won't have to homeschool now. First of all there will be no 'waiting list' to get into a Christian school (Christian schools are everywhere!) and secondly, everyone down here is a Christian! It's the Bible belt!" (Silly me). He can get a great education in any one of the Christian schools down here." BUT again, that was not what God had for me and my family. I really tried to get out of it. It wasn't that I didn't so much believe that homeschool was a good choice of education anymore, it had become more about my own inadequacies. I did not believe that I could raise a Godly child let alone a smart one! The task was waaaaay too big for me- I shuddered at the thought.

When time came for our boy to go into Pre-K 3 my husband and I looked at the schools and their prices. We simply couldn't afford it. My husband asked me if I could homeschool just for Pre-K 3. I said yes. I taught our son that year and it was really and truly wonderful. My little boy was reading! So, Pre-K 4 registration was coming up-it was still too expensive. So, I said, "I'll home school one more year." That year I taught Joy School for the very first time and fell in love with having my children around me all day long and with homeschooling too.

Well, you may think the rest is history, but it is not. I told my husband and God, "I cannot teach fifth grade." (I have no idea why that grade made my knees buckle, but it did - for Pete's sake, I taught fifth grade in the Catholic Schools and did great).  I felt confident to teach the grades up to and including fourth grade, but not fifth grade. As my eldest entered fourth grade we again looked at the cost of the schools and saw that financially we just couldn't do it and still have more children. That year of prayer my eyes were opened to a  DVD homeschool service and my heart rested.

Well, it's still not over-I then went to my husband and told him, "I can not teach high school and so I think that we should put our first born in the schools at eighth grade to give him the chance to make friends and learn how a school day works." Once again I felt a renewed sense of confidence to keep my oldest home for a few years, but was determined to win this last time. I know you all know the end, but once again, through prayer and surrender we believe the Lord would have us homeschool our children up through high school. (Yikes!) I am still very nervous about it and will pray for the Lord to change His mind each year! But for now I am a homeschooling mommy of six! Pre-k 3-------all the way to 7th grade! I am still alive. I am still breathing. I am still making it and making it with JOY.

I have wrestled God for years, but in His gentleness He had only revealed His will one step at a time. I never could have accepted the charge of homeschooling all my children to the high school level when my son was just three years old. I would have bucked and run. I've grown into homeschooling. I've grown into loving it. I've had to work at not be afraid of people's judgement of me. I remember how I judged others and many times I feel others judging me. And I've had to work at not being afraid that my very own kids will turn out ---well, not so good.

I'm sitting here typing with tears in my eyes because of the wonder and goodness of our Lord. He is so gentle and good. He knew what was best for my children even before I ever did. He also knew what has been best for me. He worked with my hard heart towards homeschooling and has made it supple in His hands. I am still on my knees with homeschooling because in many ways it still scares me. Can I really prepare them for the world? Can I really prepare them for college, a career? Can I really prepare them to answer God's calling for their life? It is such a big responsibility and I am humbled that God would believe in  me enough to shoulder this task with Him.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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