Looking Forward to Change — A Message to Those Heading to Academy or College

It’s that time again! Summer break has already started or is just around the corner, and for some of you going back to school in the fall will mean transitioning out of homeschooling and off into to academy or college. My topic today is geared toward you specifically, although your parents are welcome to read along.

1. Even though you don’t know me, I’m proud of you and your hard work, and your dedication to your studies, family, and friends. Nothing worth having comes easily, and you’ve proved yourself through hours of study, outreach events, and kindnesses to those around you. Heading off to a new school and environment requires continued courage, determination, and the perseverance not to give up when deadlines loom; and, class requirements take more out of you than you ever thought possible. Keep up the good work!

2. All that character you and your parents have focused on building? It’s going to be proven in a big way once you’re out on your own. Decisions to continue to take your education seriously, or to avoid spending time with those friends who have suddenly begun making poor choices regarding drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc., are going to make a huge impact in your future. In the moment it can be hard to see how certain things will affect you positively or negatively five, 10, or 15 years down the line, but take it from someone who has lived a little longer than you: poor decisions can haunt you for years afterward. By that same token, wise ones can benefit you, and be a source of reassurance and strength in the years to come.


3. Know that you’re not alone. You have these intense feelings, emotions, and thoughts (about the big project that is due tomorrow, or significant others, for instance) that you’re absolutely certain no one has felt before. Ever. Especially not your parents? Think again. There are a lot of similarities between you and your parents. You do share 50% of your DNA with each of them after all. They might understand more than you’d think. They also raised you since you were born, and understand you better than anyone alive on this earth (It took me years into adulthood, and having several children of my own to realize the truth of this!) Your parents have wisdom and insight into many situations that you are facing. They’ve probably spent countless days and sleepless nights praying over you that you were unaware of — and you know how important sleep is now, right? They love you, and want your best.

4. Know that you’re not alone (part 2). As much as a parent loves their child, nothing can compare to the love that God has for us. He knows you on a molecular level! He knows your family history farther back than even your grandparents can remember. He knows your strengths and weaknesses. He knows and understands the very essence of who you are, and He wants to fight for you. Your heart is precious to Him. So, why not spend time talking to him about the next big test, a failed relationship, or future job plans? (You wouldn’t be the first person to change their major in the middle of the year).

5. And finally, work hard on your studies, but don’t forget to make time for fun events with friends who will uplift and encourage you. The friendships and memories you make here will most likely last for years to come. Sometimes former homeschoolers can seem like the “odd man out” to uninformed persons. Use the social opportunities to reach out to others and show them you’re anything but “awkward” and “unsocialized.” 😉

I pray the coming year brings growth and wisdom, and helps you discover more about who you were created to be. While this journey into independence may be a little scary at first, I have confidence that you will soon adjust, and even thrive! And, if you do make mistakes or fall flat on your face, know that God is always there to help lift you up. So are your parents, teachers, and school counselors. They love you and are in your corner.

Here’s to new adventures in the coming year!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

See also Psalm 27:1, Psalm 56:3-4, Proverbs 3:5-6, and 2 Timothy 1:7.

What is Your Why?

Homeschooling by our passions… Why do you home school? What is the passion behind your choice? Understanding your own personal “why” helps you understand where to take your journey next, and also helps to develop your child’s passion.

As our school year draws to a close, many start wondering if they want to continue on the homeschool journey next year. Many are battling the negative opinion of family members, or a general lack of support in the community. It’s been a seven-year journey of home education for us, and I still sometimes flounder and flail when people ask me about socialization, when they voice their (usually strong) opinion that children should be institutionalized for education and socialization! I still doubt myself occasionally and sometimes I want to throw in the towel!

What keeps me going? My passion. Remembering the “Why.”

I homeschool because it is the best choice for my children. It’s a sacrifice and one I don’t make lightly. (None of us do!) Because of their special needs and multiple failed attempts at class work, I see clearly that an institutionalized education would fail my children. I don’t want them to fail at life. I want them to pursue their passions, just as every other parent out there desires. We all want the best for our children!

When we discover the joy of pursuing our passions, it is easier to encourage others to do the same. Without knowing or understanding our personal “why,” without exploring our passion, we quickly lose the enjoyment of homeschooling. Once we engage our own passions, we can better inspire our children’s passions. Helping our children discover their “why” for education helps them develop a joy of lifelong learning.

I give you a challenge today: Engage your passion. Write it down, make it a vision board, rediscover your joy in the journey. See how it changes your home education journey!

Sheltering With Purpose

I hear it all the time when I talk about growing up in the country: “Your parents must’ve sheltered you!” It’s as common as “The S Word” when someone hears that I homeschool my kids. The truth is, I might have been “sheltered,” but I don’t think my parents did it by accident. I think it was purposeful. I think they had a determination to teach me things, prepare me for things, keep me safe. That’s different than sheltering.

At risk of sounding like a crazy chicken lady, I will stop beating around the bush. We protect our chickens from predators by keeping them in a pen. We build them a coop with a door, maybe a heater. We feed and water them. Would they be happier as free range all the time? Yes. They would be happier, maybe fatter, and might lay more eggs — but they would have a shorter life. Because we live in the country, many predators have access to our chickens. We have lost so many due to opossums, raccoons, owls, and illness. We wanted so much for them to be free, to run in the whole yard, but now we have to start over with a new flock, and we need to build the fences higher.

It is easy for us to teach our boys these types of lessons because we have animals as examples. These animals they see every day serve a purpose as well. “No, I’m sorry. We can’t let the dog run around when we go to Nanna’s. He can get run over. He can freeze to death (mini pinscher). He’s an inside dog for a reason.” We aren’t sheltering the dog, but we care for him. The kids understand this. People don’t.

People don’t understand why I won’t put my son in public school. Aren’t I doing them a disservice by not letting them learn how the other kids are learning? Aren’t I spoiling them with my love, my attention? What’s so wrong with public school anyway?

My decision to homeschool has little to do with public school. It has to do with protecting them, raising them, and teaching them. It’s not a slight against public school any more than my staying home with them is a slight against working moms.

My purpose as a parent and teacher is to prepare my boys before all else — prepare them for the world, the workforce, spiritual warfare, matters of life and death, politics, love, anger, and more. I cannot do this while sheltering them.

What’s your purpose? Ponder your purpose while you’re planning the coming year of school, the upcoming curriculum, family devotionals, and activities. If all I’m doing is sheltering these kids, and not purposefully teaching them, I’ve failed.

Finding The Passion

It’s not always easy to discover our child’s passion. Sometimes their interests bounce around so much and in such wide diversity that the true passion can be missed. Sometimes we get so focused on what we are expected to teach them that we miss what is important. I saw this video recently and it reminded me that what interests and intrigues me is not what captures my children’s hearts. (It’s worth the 20 minutes!)

How can I help them find and develop their passions? How can I help keep their creativity alive?

We tend to approach life from our own personal perspective, which is natural and expected. I had big dreams as a child. I wanted to be a doctor from the age of 6. It was my goal in life. I passionately pursued what we now call STEM subjects, I was thrilled with all kinds of book learning. I still love books, I still love reading and developing new knowledge. My sons are not that way. They would be happy if they never saw another schoolbook in their lives (or they think they would be!). I have to readjust my approach to their schooling and it’s hard for me to remember that some days! I often bow to the pressure to make sure they are excelling in math and science. They don’t need to excel in math and science, unless they want to.

I’ve said it before… God calls all of us to different roads. If every one of us became doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc., our world would fall apart around our ears. Who would build our houses, deliver our groceries, farm the land, and so much more?

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I was talking with LMB recently and we were talking about how I loved school when I was a child. I enjoyed every part of learning and was eager to go every day, but I hated sports. He laughed and told me that he was the opposite because he loved sports but hated schoolwork. It reminded me that he IS my little athlete. It’s still hard for me to remember that because, well, because I still don’t like sport activities all that much! He’s good at it though and it interests him! Right now he wants to learn how to golf.

Another eye opener for me was that recently, a gentleman from church offered to mentor and work with my boys. He came over last week to do woodworking and the three of them built a worktable for the future projects he has planned. It was awesome to see how LMB came completely out of his shell and into his own. I never realized how well he could swing a hammer! He quickly picked up the lessons on using a tape measure, chalk line, saw and hammer. I realized that this, too, is something he’s good at and something that could serve him well in his life. Interestingly, they included a lot of math and science in the building without realizing that they were putting to use what they had learned in school.  They also learned that sometimes you make mistakes and it’s okay – they’ll get fixed.

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Life is a work in progress. So is school. So are passions. Let’s set aside our own desires so we can teach our children to follow their passions and dream big!

Pressure Cooker Off

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There’s a wonderful advantage to homeschooling that I am realizing more and more, and especially today. As we were driving to our piano lesson, I peeked in my rear view mirror, only to discover my 7-year-old with some very bright and interesting and mis-matched colors on. I remember distinctly suggesting an outfit that I thought was conducive to the weather, and that indeed was the clothing she had on her slender body — however, with a little twist. She had added an extra shirt underneath the outer blouse, and when I asked the reason, she stated that she put the extra shirt under in case it got hot outside. That way she could take off her outer layer. I had no problem with that, except I wish it had matched a little better.

My son who’s nine often chooses trousers that probably were from last year’s collection, as all can tell the color and style of his socks, at least three inches or beyond. Often I do not notice these deliberate clothing choices until we are quite far from home, when it’s too late to remedy. I used to be somewhat bothered by what I perceived as a total embarrassment. What will people think? How will I be looked at as a mom, and especially a homeschool mom, on the slight chance that we make a visit to the grocery store, library, or post office?

But then, reality and gratefulness sweeps over me. I realize the blessing, not curse, of being a homeschool mom — the gratitude I have in the relief that my kids are not victims of the current fashion-craze era. They do not suffer from name-brand mania.

Some days they couldn’t care less if their clothes are pressed, matching, or even fit properly. I’m not for a moment giving off the impression that I allow them to go around looking anything but decent, but I do notice that when they are 100% free to choose their clothing for that day, if I’m not observant before leaving our house, I might discover a surprise. This doesn’t happen every time, but it does happen.

That has been the beauty of the culture we are so fond of — homeschooling: The pressure is off.

I have been very cognizant of that the fact that we have not spent an excessive amount of money on clothing for our children just for the sake of fashion. We have indeed purchased clothing for them as the needs arise, but have been blessed with hand-me-downs, Goodwill bargains, and gifts from family. My kids are not bothered when I look for bargains, when we frequent second-hand shops, or when friends pass down clothing that their children have outgrown.

What a blessing is ours as homeschoolers, for those who take advantage of this pressure-free benefit.

“And be not conformed to this world…” Romans 12:2.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…” Matthew 6:19.