Saturday, September 26, 2015

Home school challenges

Home school has been a challenge lately.  I thought--years ago, when I was planning to home school all my children--that I had it all figured out.  That I understood what it would take for me as the mom to teach my children life-lessons AND acedemics. That I would be able to handle--even predict--the challenges that lay ahead.

Not so much.

I feel like a complete novice.  The baby steps as I go through this learning process are difficult, because I expect to be immediately successful at everything.  Often, when I'm not, I give up.  That's not an option in this situation.  For whatever reason, my daughter needs to be home, and for whatever reason, I need this experience with her.  It is heartwarming and bittersweet to hear her pray in the mornings, thanking Heavenly Father for this home school opportunity, knowing that at some point during the day she will probably melt down and scream at me because she doesn't like what she's learning.  I can hardly blame her.  She is learning the hardest lessons there are--she's learning self control.

A few weeks ago, I pulled out my Thomas Jefferson Education and the supporting materials, trying to figure out how so structure our home school.  I didn't really get very far.  I did review Core Phase, which is exactly where we are at, and exactly what we need.  Core Phase focuses on the most basic of basics: right vs. wrong, true vs. false, good vs. bad, relationships with family and God.  Part of that, particularly for us, is self-government.  Through much prayer and searching I finally got the message that THIS is why we're homeschooling.  Without a solid foundation in good vs. bad, relationships, and self-government, any other learning won't get you very far.  I've decided to be patient with myself, and with my daughter.  But still there is a nagging feeling that I should be doing more. Fortunately, I know that feeling is not from God.  It makes it easier to listen to what He IS telling me.

This phase--the tantrum phase--won't last forever.  I can feel subtle changes in my daughter.  She is learning.  I am learning.  We have much more to learn.  But we have a perfect and loving Tutor.  I'm learning to shut out the world's noise so I can hear the voice of the Spirit teaching me.  I have had some sweet and touching experiences, both with my daughter and with my Heavenly Father.

A friend of mine shared this meme on her Facebook timeline, and it boosted my spirits.  This truly is my goal when it comes to home school. (I don't have anything or anyone to attribute this to; if I find it, I'll post it later.)

I am thankful for the mentors God has sent to me, for the learning I have experienced in the last few years that has prepared me for this moment in my life.  I'm at a critical juncture with my daughter. Thankfully, as unready as I feel, I know that I am ready.  I know that a step in the darkness is sometimes necessary in order to get to the light.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Home School Days, Home School Days...

Our home school adventure has begun again.  I guess it never really ended, since all of the kids were home all summer.  Like it or not, believe it or not, home IS school.  But this is official home school, the file-an-affidavit-with-the-district kind. And I've been dreading it.

We started home school for our 3rd daughter last year, mid-way through the school year.  After fighting several times a week every week about whether or not she would even go to school that day, I finally went to the Lord in prayer (though not for the first time on this subject).  The fighting between us couldn't go on.  It was destroying our relationship, and driving the Spirit out of our home. I told God that the only solution I could come up with was to withdraw her from public school and teach her at home.  For the first time in nine years (which is when my desire to home school began), I felt His approval.

It wasn't easy.  I didn't do a good job of it.  I also had a baby at home, and a work-from-home job to take care of.  But I knew that the reason she was home was not because I would be better at teaching her math or science.  I knew there were other lessons for her to learn.

I was a bit lackadaisical about it, perhaps, partly because I didn't know what the next year (this year) would bring. But here we are, homeschooling, and I think I'm finally starting to figure a couple of things out.

This child does not like book work.  She loves to read books of her choosing, but give her a simple worksheet, and the struggle begins.  She loves to be active, and hates to be made to do things.  How do you school a child like that?  Since I rather like book work, and I don't love being active like she does, what was I to do?

I pulled my copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education off the shelf, with some of the accompanying materials I had.  I turned kind of randomly to a page, and got direction I knew I needed, but I wasn't sure still what to do with it.  Teach what is "mine," it said.  What do I have that is of worth or interest?  Put in the effort to get a great education yourself, it said.  What was I busy learning? Nothing.

It was a short time later that the answers came.  I DO have something of worth.  I can teach her the laws of thought.  I can spend time with her in the scriptures.  I have a great personal need to strengthen my body through healthy eating and exercise.  I can do those things with my daughter, teaching her as I learn.  I can teach her to govern herself, and to look far enough ahead to anticipate what the consequences of her choices will be.  I can teach her to love and revere motherhood and womanhood, and to look to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to discover her worth.  I can teach her to look for her personal mission, and to recognize that the things she struggles with are preparing her for important things to come.  I can take every one of these lessons and learn it better myself as I teach her.  I can give her a solid foundation so that when the time comes to focus more on academic subjects, she will know why study is important, and will want to put in the effort.

Our home school doesn't look like "school" as I have always understood it.  I struggle with that in a lot of ways.  But I also know with certainty that the Lord is guiding this educational process for my daughter, and for me.  He knows just how important self government and healthy eating and biology and multiplication facts are to this child's life and personal mission.  He will not direct me to do something that will short-change her in any of these things.  I have to trust Him.  I'm certainly not smart enough to do this on my own.  How thankful I am that His interest in me and my family extends to helping me understand how to love and parent these beautiful children.