Interruptions

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We recently relocated to another state. The traveling back and forth to secure the new home, packing, and thereafter cleaning our former home covered the space of about a month. During such time I was concerned that we would fall behind in school, as the month of September was slipping away. Once we arrived at our new home, there was so much to do. The new place needed a little freshening up before we unloaded our items, as it had been vacant for some time. Though it was cleaned before we arrived, I needed to christen the walls with my own elbow grease. All the while I kept thinking, “School should have started.” Being a very seasoned homeschooler, I knew quite well that we are not necessarily on anyone’s time clock; however, there was a constant gnawing that would not let up.

The excitement of our new surroundings offered many excuses for not beginning academia right away. The property afforded significantly more trails for bicycle riding, the company of horses, a very affectionate St. Bernard, new neighbors to chat with, many more trees to climb, and unlimited space to run and discover new hideouts. I soon began to realize that this is one of the beauties of home education, even if it is the nearing of fall. School can officially begin when school officially begins. I was reminded that we would not receive a truancy slip if our year did not mimic the traditional system. In addition, I was comforted knowing that we maintain a modified school schedule throughout the summer months.

My anxiety began to melt as I marveled at all of the adventures my children were having in this foreign land. There was initial hesitation by my youngest two about dropping all that was familiar and moving to the unknown, but upon arrival all has changed. The children have adjusted quite nicely, as I anticipated they would. They have thoroughly enjoyed their first church service, though we have not settled on where our permanent church home will be as of yet.

As I reflect, there have been multiple pauses in our homeschool journey, with several pregnancies, coupled with unbearable morning sickness, followed by post-birth recovery, a most recent family health crisis, and a few out-of-state uprootings sprinkled in between. Life has happened to us time and time again, as it does us all, but the Lord has granted us the grace to roll with the billows.

As our lessons have finally gotten underway, I look through the windows of our new dwelling and find rest in this new setting the Lord has placed us in for such a time as this. There is a joy that sits beneath the surface of pondering being a little off track from our school “schedule.” But, my heart is warmed in watching my children bask in this new place we have have begun to call home.

“And my people shall dwell in peaceful habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” Isaiah 32:18.

Time Management

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“If only I had an extra one or two hours a day, I could get more things done.” Does this sound familiar?  Home schooling is a big challenge, but yet rewarding. As parents, we juggle between school work, housework, cooking, field trips, and chauffeuring our children to music, sports, or other activities. By the end of the day, we are drained.

The Bible reminds us in Matthew 11:18, “Come unto me all who are heavy laden….” We are so busy seven days a week, and constantly on the go, that sometimes we forget to spend time with our Heavenly Father. We need to make proper use of our time to the best ability (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years of homeschooling my daughter, I have learned many things, some through failures, and some from friends’ advice. Here are few things I like to share. It may help you as it has helped me.

Set Goals

  1. Plan out what you want to achieve to complete the school year. For example, if your child is preteen, you may want to start teaching him/her some basic cooking or sewing (home economics); or, if your child is in high school and you want him/her to learn driving, you will have to set extra time for driving school.
  2. Is there a project you want to accomplish? Time with your love ones, your faith, your education or finances?
  3. Does your child have something that he/she would like to accomplish this year? Music, Pathfinders, Master Guide, swim team, etc.

Get Yourself Organized

  1. Before the school year starts or during holidays, set aside some time to organize the books/bookshelves, pantry, or room.
  2. Getting rid of clutter sometimes help. If the child/children are old enough, they can help with some chores.
  3. Prepare the list of things to do the night before like schoolwork to do, clothes to wear, dishes to cook, or things to bring for the field trip. Some things can be prepare over the weekend.
  4. If you are having a play date the next day, have the place ready.
  5. Check through when the doctor/dentist appointments are due, or time of classes to attend.
  6. Try to set a routine: first thing in the morning, a quiet time with God, family devotions/worship.

Prioritize

  1. Focus on what is important. If the schoolwork needs to be complete, get it done first.
  2. Shopping: Sometimes we may have to skip the shopping that morning and go later in the day or pick it up on the way home from classes/activities.
  3. Extra-curricular activities: We may tend to sign our children up for various activities. We have to make sure that we balance it up so that neither the children nor we are overwhelmed.
  4. There’s a times we have to learn to say “no.” We love to help, but there may be time when we have to leave some responsibilities to others. We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season…” We need time for some relaxation so we are not stressed out.

We can easily get ourselves occupied with many things without realizing it. It is important that we plan our schedule well, and that we do not lose sight of God.

Stepping Back and Assessing

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“Love suffers long (is patient), love is kind, love does not envy, love wants not its own, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh not evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” 1 Corinthians 14.

Boy, some days it’s really hard to act like Christ. I will admit that I tend to do fine in public. Trying to keep a good appearance and being a fit representation of our Savior is always on my mind while I am out (especially when my son will not listen to me and I really want to paddle his behind — or wonder why I ever decided to bring him into this world). But, for some strange reason, when I walk through my front door everything seems to change.

Getting frustrated, angry, pouting, yelling, and sometimes out of control, I hate to admit, is not just a kid problem in my home, but it’s a Mommy problem too. I do so well until I’m pushed to my limit, and then I lose it and yell or get frustrated. The problem with that is we are to be an example in behavior to our children, as we are what they see. Whether inside our house or outside our house, we are called to show the principle of love, no matter the situation. Lord, help me as I really struggle with this on a daily basis. I am seeing some changing as time goes by, but, being a perfectionist, it’s not as fast as I want to see!

At ages five and two, my two kids are always copying everything they see — especially in Mommy’s and Daddy’s behavior. My son’s favorite saying right now is, “But, you get to, so why can’t I?” We get so sick of this question all day long…all evening and often after the kids are already in bed. “But, you get to stay up, so why can’t I?” How many times do you find yourself asking these questions to God? I think if you really analyze your life, you will find you ask questions like this more then you realize you do.

Having children is teaching me to see myself in a whole new light. I now understand why Christ says, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3.

A lesson in Child Rearing 101 for Bitsy: The questions I get annoyed with by my kids asking over and over again are the ones I tend to ask God. Each day I find myself asking one of those questions in an adult way. “Father, we’re having a huge financial issue. Why can’t you just send us a check in the mail?” Or, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” Or, “Why did you give me kids? I feel so out of control right now.” But, no matter our circumstances God asks us to be like little children, to have the grace to be corrected, the ability to apologize, the quick forgiveness I see in my children when I have made mistakes, the simple trust and appreciation our kids so often have for us.

The Lord of all Wisdom understands our needs. He understands our children and our child-like questioning. He has broad shoulders to allow us to question and vent and help us with our frustration. Having little people copy exactly what we do in our daily lives challenges us to be able to change the way we handle situations and ourselves. You see, I believe children were given to us, not to change them into what they need to be, although that is a part of what our job as parents are, but to change US into what WE need to be — to challenge our daily lives and bring us back over and over again to the areas we need to work on, each time learning to surrender that issue to Him more and more. No, the training of my children is not so much intended for them but for me. It doesn’t help that God places a heavy responsibility on us to be parents, as our children are on loan to be raised for Him.

I really struggle as a parent because I take the responsibility very seriously, and I am sure that you do as well, as it is a huge responsibility and one that even the angels would give anything to have as well. Not only do we have the responsibility of helping our husband, keeping the house running smoothly, keeping meals on the table and laundry done and all of the other responsibilities of running a home, but we have the 24/7 jobs of wiping noses, missing sleep in the night, being tugged in more then one direction if we have more then one child, and somehow, among all of this, we are trying to look good for our husbands as well. I want to challenge you today. When we are struggling with the responsibility of parenting, are we really trusting that the Lord will work everything out for good? When we rely on Him, our strength is renewed and He will show us what to make as a priority for each day.

God has recently brought to my attention that a lot of my overwhelming issue with being a mom is that I am not truly trusting the Lord. I don’t take a few minutes each day to really spend time asking the Lord how I did for the day, assessing things I need to change, and surrendering those to the Lord for a clean start in the morning. The problem is fitting it in with all of the craziness going on in life with two totally crazy little ones who beg to have Mommy’s attention all the time.

With all of this I want you to be encouraged. Change is a slow process. My favorite author once penned, “Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” Sometimes, to be honest, I wonder if my lifetime is going to be long enough as I have so many faults that need corrected, and the more I try to fix them it seems the stronger and more frequent they become. Why? Because when I am looking at my problem, I am forgetting to look at Christ, the one who overcomes all of my problems.

Each day as life gets busy and time seems short, let’s choose to take one day at a time, living in the moment and enjoying each and every second we have with our precious little ones. It takes three weeks to form a habit, so just hang in there and keep going. If you fall, get back up and keep going. When you finish the three weeks, add another task and work on that for three weeks. Our children are very forgiving, and I’m so grateful that God put such forgiveness into our little ones, as He knew they would need it with me.

So, in closing, let’s determine to take five minutes at the end of each day to step back and assess ourselves, our family, and our children. We will be walking on the road next to our Master.

Blessings as we start this new habit together!

“What if they end up weird?”

Disclaimer: When I use “weird” in this post, please see it as “different to the average mainstream” as opposed to any negative connotation. Thanks!

If you weren’t reading this I’d ask you to close your eyes and think of the stereotypical homeschooled kid. What do you see? You probably know a lot of kids who are homeschooled, and see a normal child (whatever that is!), but popular culture has created a rather different picture, and this is what many people see when they think of a homeschooler. They might imagine the family who sews all their own clothes and never leaves their homestead. It might be the kids who are awkward at any social event and have no idea how to act. This was the type of person I thought of.

When I was younger I knew a few kids who were homeschooled. It was still pretty new here in Australia; I believe it hadn’t even been legal for very long. I used to look at these kids and wonder if they were weird because they were homeschooled, or if they came by it honestly, because the only people who homeschooled their kids were weirdos! In retrospect, I think I probably knew more people who were homeschooled, but just didn’t know about it. I also knew a lot of weird kids who went to regular school. Some of those kids have gone on to be incredibly successful; others still walk to the beat of a different drum.

This was one of my fears when I started looking into homeschooling my boys, and it’s also one of the things that people ask me regularly — at least those who are impolite enough, or who know me well enough to get away with it. When people meet a child who is odd, and then they find out that child is home-schooled, they decide that it must be the homeschooling that causes the weirdness. Any “normal” homeschooled kids don’t do anything to negate this, nor does the fact that a lot of mainstream kids are different do anything to make them think that it’s school that’s to blame. When it comes to homeschooling, “post hoc ergo propter hoc” seems to be the rule. It happened after something, so it MUST be because of something. We live near an Adventist college and have a few theology students at our church. This means we have to endure some sermons that highlight the naivety of students learning to preach. Many of the students come across as sheltered; however, for the student who was homeschooled this was obviously the cause. I’m not sure what was to blame for the others!

I won’t lie, there’s a lot of weird kids who are homeschooled. But, there are also a lot of mainstream kids who aren’t normal either! God has made us all different, and I think that’s wonderful. I’m not worried anymore. This is due to a few things. I’ve met a lot of different kids who are homeschooled. In general, I find them not much different to mainstream kids. There are a lot of special needs homeschooled kids in our area. When I was considering homeschooling, I went to a social day that was advertised on a local homeschooling group. The first kids I met were your cliched, stereotypical, running-around-with-no-social-skills homeschoolers. My heart sank, but I saw pretty quickly that these kids had medical issues. Genetics is to blame for their not being normal. Many kids are homeschooled because mainstream would make their lives hell, or they’d slip through the cracks. I have so much respect for parents who homeschool their kids because of this. Homeschooling hasn’t made these kids different; it’s giving them the best chance to survive growing up unscathed by the meanness of school for anyone who doesn’t fit the mold. Even if they don’t have these issues, going to a mainstream school forces our children to join a group. To fit into that group they start to lose a bit of who they are to the group identity. I remember sacrificing bits of myself to fit in with the “cool” kids. By homeschooling we can not only give our children a catered education, but raise them to be the people God made them to be — even if it is different to everybody else.

The fact that a child is homeschooled won’t make them weird, but the way I homeschool my child might. If I hide them from the world, only letting them see the people from church, only letting them be exposed to ideas that I’ve sanitised and approved, they’ll never grow. They’ll never learn to think for themselves and wrestle with different ideas. They’ll never have the opportunity for God to use them to make a difference in the world, because I will have hidden them from it. That isn’t raising them to be the people God made them to be, for the purpose He has for them. But, if I show them how to love other people, that different ideas aren’t something to be scared of, that someone who believes differently to me isn’t a bad person just because of that, that God loves a difficult person so much He would’ve sent Jesus to die just for them — if I let that be the filter they see the world through, then I am helping to set them up for God to use however He sees fit. To me, that’s what matters.

Now if I start to worry that my kid is different other kids, I refocus on what’s important. Does it matter? No. God has blessed me with my children. I shouldn’t be comparing my kids to anyone else’s. I should just be doing the best job I can with what God has given me. We’re not all dealt the same hand; not all of us are expected to cure cancer, convert the masses, or change the world. If we look at the parable of the talents, we see that what we’re asked to do is the best we can with what God has entrusted to us. Let’s embrace that. Let’s raise our children to be the people God made them to be, letting their unique light shine. Let’s nurture the special gifts that they have, and teach them to let God use them how He sees fit without looking at what everyone else is doing.

Besides, if I’m really honest, my kids share my genetics. If they’re weird, homeschooling isn’t to blame!

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 3

Charity and her beautiful violin

Charity and her beautiful violin

This month’s installment of “Homeschool Student Interviews” features 10-year-old Charity. She is involved with a youth symphony and a girls choir. In addition to her regular homeschooling, she is also taking a couple classes from northstar-academy.org and Homeschool Spanish Academy!

1 ) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Charity Duran and I live in Minnesota, USA.

2 ) How long have you been homeschooled?

I have been homeschooled since I started Kindergarten.

3 ) What do you like most about being homeschooled?

I enjoy having a flexible schedule so that I can do a lot of things in the middle of the school day. 

4 ) Is there anything you dislike about being homeschooled?

I maybe dislike a little not being with my friends. 

5 ) What is your favorite thing to learn about?

I like literature the best. 

6 ) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

My favorite hobbies/activities are violin, singing, doing things on my computer, and teaching myself gymnastics. 

7 ) What would you like to do when you grow up?

I would like to be either a National Park Ranger or a professional violinist. 

8 ) What is your favorite project that you have worked on for school?

My favorite project was writing a report about salt. Did you know salt was once used for money?