Why I chose to homeschool when I swore I never would. Our one year adventure together.

Why I chose to homeschool when I swore I never would. Our one year adventure together.

“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.perfection is my enemy printable {the House of Hendrix}

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.6 great books for yuor tween to read...about being a tween

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 prayConsistently 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 .

Why I chose to homeschool when I swore I never would. Our One Year Adventure Together {the House of Hendrix}.


Resources we enjoyed:

 “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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The Not-So-Perfect 1st day of school

The Not-So-Perfect 1st day of school

In the excitement of a new school year, don't forget the underlying things kids really need. | the House of HendrixOur not-so-perfect 1st day of school

This picture…yup, it’s from last year. Want to know why? Because today it just didn’t work. Any of it!

Last night, I laid out freshly-cleaned uniforms in each of their rooms. I had lunches made, water bottles filled, and backpacks ready to go by the door. I planned a waffle breakfast and set my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier than necessary to ensure there would be extra time for cuddles and reassurance. I even had our chalkboard sign ready for pictures, like the ones currently flooding my Facebook scroll.  So this should be a happy post about the excitement of the first day of school.

But sometimes life just isn’t like that. It’s messy, unpredictable, and you just have to roll with the punches.

We had a good start but the last 10 minutes killed us. My son spilled syrup on that freshly-cleaned shirt. “No problem Sugar Dumpling. Let me get you another shirt.” Yay, we did that 3 times and there was no Sugar Dumping that 3rd time.

Our other son decided  kids would think his combed hair looked weird, so he put his hand to the top of his head and made circles until every last piece of hair was stuck in a different direction. Dad reprimanded and brushed it again. Lip quivering with anxiety over what the 1st graders would think, his hand returns to his head only this time evident it had nothing to do with his actual hair.   We told him his hair looked cool.

Then my daughter didn’t believe I had really signed her up for Hot Lunch and insisted on seeing the email confirmation before she would get in the car.

When I tried to take that 1st Day of School picture that I have taken every year since birth, the boys fought over who got to hold the sign, that is until the sprinklers went off spraying the chalk lettering. It was only kinda funny at the time.The not-so-perfect 1st day of school [the House of Hendrix}

It didn’t matter how much I prepared last night, today was going to be messy. We had nerves, anticipation, and a drippy eater. I was reminded it’s not my job to make the morning routine perfect, it’s my job to create an atmosphere that when they have their moments of anxiety and insecurity, there is warmth, guidance and grace.

I was once the maid of honor in a beautiful wedding where every detail was perfect. As I went to straighten the bride’s gown mid-ceremony, I knocked the tall glass-encased candles which lined the stairs to the altar. Every eye including my own froze with anticipation as we waited for the shattering of the glass at the bride’s feet. Thankfully it didn’t and there was laughter instead, but the bride’s mother came up to me afterwards and said  “Allison, thank you! I had been holding my breath for the perfect wedding and once you knocked that over, I finally exhaled. I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and I was able to enjoy the moment.”  Uh, you’re welcome?

How often does our desire to create a perfect moment for our loved ones get derailed by the unexpected? What my children needed this morning wasn’t another cute picture in front of the house, they needed to know that there was order and certainty to the lunch process. They needed reassurance over an acceptance issue revealing itself through hair. And they needed to know that a little spilled syrup doesn’t have to ruin your day.

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The Awe Journal

How to make an Awe Journal [The House of Hendrix}

That noise of life that so often overstimulates my sensitive brain, I listened to it today. I broke it down and paid attention. I heard laughter, LOUD laughter, resulting from my children being reunited with their neighborhood friends. I heard the song of birds and when I looked, I saw a bright red cardinal making a nest in my oak tree and two woodpecker pecking away nearby. I heard Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” on my radio and a ding on my phone from a friend that missed me. I started to hear the beauty in my noise and it suddenly didn’t feel so chaotic.

The Awe Journal {the House of Hendrix}

I worry that the rush of  life keeps my family from seeing the beauty sprinkled throughout our day. I intentionally try to limit my children’s activities and schedule in down time, but in reality, we are still all over the place.

Last year in a quest to teach my daughter to notice the beauty surrounding her, I had her create an Awe Journal. It was a place to record those things in her daily life which she found beautiful, however she defined it.

As we went about our day, she noticed things she found extraordinary…a pink sunset, the intricacy of a spider web, a double rainbow, the kindness of a stranger to an irate customer.

  • She often captured the moment by taking a picture with my phone. We’d print and tape the photograph into her journal.
  • Other times, she drew a picture from memory.
  • She would write a descriptive paragraph about it. Other times a poem. Sometimes just one sentence.
  • She added Bible verses and drawings. There were no rules.

How to make an Awe Journal [the House of Hendrix]

She now looks now for beauty everywhere…and she always finds it! I get tickled when she says in her pre-teen way, “Hey Mom, look. Total Awe Journal material”.

One night driving home from soccer practice, we experienced a marvelous lightning storm without any rain. Lightening was surrounding us every few seconds. She took video with my phone. It was truly awesome. As we stopped our car to just look up and watch the incredible display in the sky, we were both reminded of the power of God. We were reminded just how small we are in the universe and for that moment simply sat in awe.

Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless” (Isaiah 29:9)

“Stop and consider God’s wonders” (Job 37:14)

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