“Good for YOU…not me” was what I always thought when I met an amazing mom that homeschooled her children. I was confident that I was both a better mother getting a break from my children, and that a fully trained individual was more qualified for the job. Yet I spent the past year homeschooling my daughter for 5th grade. Here’s our story.
I love my children’s school, so much so I’ve written a post about my adoration for their teachers. My daughter is a disciplined, respectful, quiet student who takes delight in lining up her pencils and practicing her math facts. Her hard work and natural abilities have always made her successful in the classroom. Somewhere around the end of 3rd grade and the beginning of 4th she began to lose her academic sparkle. Her joy had been replaced with anxiety, and her smiles just fleeting moments. Tears became her release on matters pertaining to homework and tests. She was on edge.
I remember her coming home from school with an A- on a test, sobbing for having missed 2 questions. Bummed that my then 9 year old’s quest for perfection was overtaking her ability to have a joy-filled week, I rebelliously took a pencil and drew a line through the minus turning it into a A+. “This is just a letter. It does not define you.“ She was mortified that I had defiled her paper.
She needed me….but not the me she was getting. From the time we got home from after school sports until bedtime, my relationship with my 3 children was a checklist of orders: take a bath, eat dinner, do your reading and finish homework. We were stretched. I was not mentoring, modeling and even mothering in the way I thought she needed.
I craved time with my daughter. I wanted that extended atmosphere where we could tackle some bigger issues like perfectionism, confidence, and identity. My concern was not necessarily where she was at now, because many children get anxious and stressed out, but where this could take her. I wanted to affirm in her who she is in Christ and that no grade, award or even imperfection can alter that identity. She is already amazing. We listened to a Christian pop singer Francesca Battistelli CD with lyrics like “Perfection is my enemy. I’m free to be me.” We also read great books on that topic attached here.
So I said no to a lot of good things and Yes to her. This was not a flippant decision. I gathered information, asked questions, and prayed a lot. I finally decided I would never regret taking a year to pour into her. This was not an academic decision. This was a heart decision, a commitment to each other for one year.
Here’s what our year looked like:
Each morning, she made us each a cup of tea, we played classical music, and had our devotions. When we skipped this step, we ran into trouble. She craved that soothing transition from the morning rush of getting her brothers to school, to a place where our hearts were calm and teachable.
We continued her Classical Christian education. We read great books, laughed, and sang. We did math at Starbucks and literature in a British accent. She was required to dance as she sang her grammar jingles and we totally dropped Latin. We learned for the love of learning.
This was a journey we were going on together. I quickly saw my weaknesses revealed. I was honest and talked through them with her. Unknowingly, I was modeling bringing light to each other’s struggles…not being ashamed of them, and taking comfort in not being perfect. We don’t have to be great at everything. We are enough. We celebrated our strengths in confidence.
An author who I adore, Ann Voscamp, shaped my perspective on what I wanted this year to look like. She encourages both the homeschool parent and child to be committed to living in 4 key ways.
Live each day: (Ann Voscamp)
Live your life. Invite your children to join you! Read together. Pray together. Sing together. Work, bake, garden, chore, clean, sew, fix, build together. Don’t fabricate artificial demarcation lines between schooling and living. Live a one-piece life. Live holistically.
Explore! Be awed by His World! Restore Wonder! Be a creative, thinking, exuberant person who spills with the joy of learning. Your zest for learning and life will be contagious–the children will catch it!
Read, read, read. Fill the house with library books. Play classical music. Post the art of the masters about the house. Go for walks in the woods. Learn a new language, a new culture, a new poem. Everyday set out to discover again, and again, and again. The whole earth is full of His glory! Go seek His face…
Consistently pray. Consistently read. Consistently keep the routine. Consistently live an everyday liturgy.
Our year together is now over, summer is coming to an end, and my daughter returns to her school in a few days. We didn’t cover everything in my curriculum plan. We didn’t take all of the field trips I imagined accompanied a homeschool experience, and I’m sure I failed to teach her everything she would have learned in school.
But my daughter and I… we are connected. We’re tight! I can look at her introverted self and know the status of her heart. We built trust. We persevered through frustration. We gained confidence. We dealt with death. But more than anything, JOY returned to the face and heart of my child…a joy that is not temporary because it comes from that deep place of knowing who you are .
Resources we enjoyed:
- Francesca Battistelli CD “Free to be me”
- Tween books on identity
- Ann Voscamp’s book “1000 Gifts”
- The Awe Journal
- Veritas Press curriculum
- Circle Christian School
“The question is not, ‘how much does the youth know?’ when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? – Charlotte Mason
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