21 May 2010

Winding Down, Gearing Up, or Just Plowing Straight Ahead

May is nearing an end. 
Co-op is over...
field trips and gym days, nearly so....
graduations are happening......
book sales have started. 

My school room is spilling into the dining room as I clean up and clear out and try to figure out what to keep and what to store.  Intead of feeling the excitement of nearing the end of a school year, we will have to keep going a bit longer with a shorter break this year. To me, it feels like October...and I'm still unsure of what I'm doing.

As you read this, realize that I am completing my 18th year of homeschooling.  I think that I am realizing that my "arrival" as a home educator is never going to happen. I remain unsure of choices and question everything.  This could come from having seven very different children....or it could come from my personality that gets bored easily. It could be all of the "millions of choices" for home educators in the past two decades...or it could be because of what I have dubbed 
"a crisis of confidence".

What I left years ago, I have returned to again and am wondering if it is a good or bad idea.  

What I thought was wonderful for several years no longer works.  
What worked with several children will definitely not work with my special needs child.

 It feels that every year is the first year.

 Sometimes, every day is the first day.

Anybody been there? 

Anybody willing to admit it who has been homeschooling more than a couple of years? 

I remember the beginning of my second year of homeschooling. We had moved to a new state and I called to find out about a local support group.  I had already changed from a boxed curriculum into some of my own choices after much prayer and looking them over at two conventions. 

I was unsure of myself and it was my first year to teach a child to read. I didn't want to mess up kindergarten!  The mom I was speaking to was self-assured and calm. I asked her if I would ever feel like I knew what I was doing and be settled on something. She told me that it would take time. She was there....but then, she had been homeschooling for six years.

Six years!  That seemed like an eternity.

Let me see.....where was I when we began our sixth year......oh yeah, in yet another state.....after another move and adding two more children to our family.  Did I feel like I knew what I was doing? 

Absolutely not! 

 I was still trying to master laundry for eight people let alone have my curriculum choices nailed down.  And of course, the following years added another child, this time by foreign adoption, high schoolers, and new challenges in learning that we are still dealing with today.

I think it is OKAY to not feel completely confident.

 I do know what I like and do not like as a teacher. This is important because if you do not like a curriculum, you will not use it. 

 I also do not switch every year. 

I'm just saying that the math curriculum I put away ten years ago was changed for another  until last year and the old one was pulled out again.  

Switching math curriculum every nine years is not flip-flopping. 

But I must apologize to my original kindergartener who is now in college...because I did seem to move her around too much.

I still remember the excitement and joy from that very first day of homeschooling. 
That is important, too.  

Some days are not exciting.  
Some weeks are not joyful. 
 Some months are very stressful.  

Some years are just plain hard.

Sometimes I can step back and realize that I have gone into panic mode and just dropped all the things that brought joy to our days for the basics of math and reading. 

All the music and art dropped.....

all the lingering over nature forgotten.....

exchanging the love of learning for the drive to learn something.....
then I feel that I have messed something up.

And yet, we keep progressing. 
We all keep learning. 

 I am more sure now, nearly nineteen years later, that 
I have no idea what I am doing and that I am utterly dependent upon the Lord for any good decisions, wisdom and learning that is happening here.

I look around at other families and their children and all I see are brilliant, happy, talented scholars. I see the faces of their calm, organized, intelligent, confident mothers and

 I wish that were me.

What is wrong with that thinking?  It is not reality.  It is possibly very close.  It is even possible that someone has even looked at my family and thought the same thing....about me, 
I would laugh! 

Nobody can see the fears inside or the anxious thoughts over a child who is struggling. 

Nobody can see the analysis and consideration over money spent on curriculum that may or may not work. 
We can all put a good face on it, but we need to realize that we are all human and we do worry over this most challenging job.

I know that if you are a home educator, 
you understand this. 
Even if you are not and you are a parent, you understand this. We all think that everyone has it figured out and we've been left out of the loop, sometimes.

The real beauty is that we can pray for one another. 

In fact, two such wonderful moms did that exact thing for me on a particularly difficult day....

right out in the sunshine....
in a parking lot. 

It is up to us to be willing vessels. 
To walk in the wisdom He provides.  

Not to keep looking back, 
but pressing ahead.....
toward the prize.....
when we see our children being 
into His image and thanking Him
 that we had a front row seat
 and didn't mess it up
 too much.


  1. You are right there are moms who look at you and say wow...someday I will have it together like her. We are inspired by the joy and the knowledge you share.

  2. I'm afraid you would be uninspired if you saw me at this moment......your words are all kindness.

  3. Oh, I still remember our first day, even first week of homeschool. It was so exciting. A friend suggested a book to me after a couple of years called "Lies Homeschool Moms Believe." You may enjoy this. Remember, completely dependant on the Lord is the perfect place to be : )