I like to think of myself as a flexible, easy going person, but then… Laundry is piled up, meals are not planned, history and math were not even covered today ….. the house is a mess and education? it just has not happened. And I am freaking out! lol
In the beginning we chose home education for our family so we could stop and smell the roses; so we could be flexible. I wanted to inspire a love of learning in my children. I did not want them to grow up thinking learning was something we did at a set time, in a set place, and only certain things at certain ages. And so we started out “on fire” and we burned through boxed curriculums; workbooks and textbooks, we read and visited the library. It worked. Perfectly. Just as I planned. *ahem*
However, I think my oldest ran out of steam. He began to burn out. And we got to that place where we were not longer eager to see what we could learn today; rather we were desperate to get it done. I caught myself pressuring my son; I found myself telling him that if he would just hurry up and get it over with …. sigh This is not working. We had programs to complete; we had a schedule to keep. And we were already behind. I don’t have time for this. (talk about a terrible way to inspire learning eh?)
So it was a blessing, and an answer to prayer, when Plan to Be Flexible: Designing a Homeschool Year and Daily Schedule that Works for your Family came my way. And I mean that. In the introduction alone I found myself nodding; my kids hearing me utter “Amen, Amen” periodically. My oldest was surprised by the title and I was shocked when he advised me that I should “plan to be flexible because I am so not flexible”. Excuse me? lol After careful reflection (I admit I had to get over the being offended a bit too) I realized that as much as I thought I was, and wanted to be, flexible, I was far from it. And it was taking its toll on all of us. As I read, in the first pages alone, it spoke so clearly and loudly to my heart…. My son and I do school right now, with clenched fists and teeth, its a struggle and no one is really getting anything lovely out of it. it is not inspiring or encouraging, it is the opposite. Already this book has given such a vision, a clarity as to what we must do as mommas, and daddys too, to grow a love and desire within our kids to know and seek and do …its about loving them, trusting Him and sharing the experience and journey together…..we may not always know how but when there are materials like this out there, we have a wonderful guide to walk along the way with us…
As I read there were many times I was challenged (really challenged) to think about what we are doing and why. This is a blessing if you are as burned out as we are; how important is us for us to remember why we chose this path in the beginning. I think often, just as in our walk with God, there are times we need to sit down and look what the Lord has already done. A reminder of those blessings; oil in our lamps to keep our fire burning. Focus on enduring to the end. Joyfully of course. For me this really reminded me of how important I believe home education to be; I as able to remember and meditate upon those scriptures which speak so loudly to me of where my children belong.
“I love the mental picture of a child as a rocket and a parent as the launching pad and ground crew. We parents are given the first 18 years to shape the future trajectory of our little “rocket.” What will we use to fuel up our kids so they can blast off toward their intended destiny with power and conviction? It’s not our job to aim our child where we want them to go, but instead, through the wisdom of God, help the child discern his natural talents and interests and then help point him in that direction. It is our job as parents to prepare, guide and to lead them on their journey.”
As I said there are many gems of wisdom and inspiration within this book. There have been moments of truth; times I have to admit that it is me who wants to do Shakespeare; he wants to learn guitar even though I want him to study piano. We did German because I chose it, he wanted to learn Mandarin Chinese. I said it was too hard. He stood his ground. What example do I set by telling him that one thing is too difficult, or that another just won’t work? How do I know? Perhaps these things he desires to learn, that I see as impossible, silly even, are things that are a part of the path which the Lord has for him. The question is, can I let go enough, step out in faith, and see what the Lord will do?
So, I cannot resign myself to, as Alicia said “… an inordinate amount of effort barking at my squirmy boys to “sit down” “pay attention” and “finish the workbook” while they moaned and groaned. this driven perfectionist felt shamed and humbled by homeschooling.” I was humbled. All my years of study, all my time as an educator, a social worker, a child development specialist…sigh
” I needed to back way off with school.” So say many veteran homeschoolers. Are they right? As one who almost needs to be organized and on schedule at all times….can I do this?
“It doesn’t matter that you are in the middle of the school year,” they explained. “You don’t want to hurt your relationships with your kids or destroy their love of learning. That is far more important than completing the expected tasks and satisfying school requirements.”
Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
How can I not do this? I worked through an amazing list of very thought provoking questions (the Appendix has an amazing list that covers anything you could imagine). These range from learning styles, to curriculum used, behavior (and not just the student but teacher too!) My oldest son and I talked; he “likes mom well enough as a teacher” but he admitted that he didn’t see the point to most of what we did each day He didn’t care for the things we were learning. He wanted to build and draw and write; he preferred to read and “do stuff” instead of just reading about it. And why not?
An end of the year date. Have you ever done this? I loved this idea Such detail was provided too – an excellent idea (cannot believe I did not think of it myself) particularly for my oldest son, who at almost nine, already needs his space. Already wants his opinions heard and considered. He is active and quick; curious about so any things. It amazes me that I have never before done something like this with him. And rather than planning it, we kind of just did it. While walking about the neighborhood. Of course in all of this I found that he really needed time to think about all I was asking. He needed to process and ponder a bit before we could really go further. And so as I was gardening the other day, and he was helping me too, we began talking about what bores him and what excites him. We have a lot of freedom in our state when it comes to home education so the sky is the limit in many ways. But he had so many wonderful ideas; creative ways to further his learning and I agreed to consider and pray on much of it, with my husband too, before we moved forward. If you want to more( I will be blogging our path, yesterday today and tomorrow, in the very near future so stay tuned). We are also going to be listing, as I mentioned once before, assessments of the past year and goals for the year to come. I promise I will go into way more detail here at a later date. 🙂
Getting back to Plan to Be Flexible; I had to consider, what little we use, the curriculum needs to be the servant to the student’s learning needs, not the other way around. Another honest assessment to make before we move forward for the year. But have we ever considered this before? I mean, most of us are used to completing programs without a thought to whether or not the material learned was really understood – can they express how it applies in some way? Of course this is different depending on their age but there still needs to be some way that we can assure ourselves that they really got the concept being taught. What about the teacher? Its a reminder that is gently couched within the pages of every chapter. What about the teacher? What are my goals, how am I living up to those goals? And how can I improve upon my abilities as a teacher and mom while also expanding my own interests, sharing them with my children (after all they love to share their passions with me, only fair I do the same right?).
Have I mentioned how much of a blessing this book has been to me? Honestly, whether you are totally new to this or a seasoned homeschooler, there is much wisdom and inspiration within these pages. I feel so blessed that I was able to review this one and that there are moms like Alicia out there who are eager to share all that they have learned. This book really offers us so much freedom when we read honestly and critically, when we willingly examine ourselves and our families with the determination to win the race. We are so free when we are in Christ. Homeschool should be no different. Let us walk in faith and in liberty as we homeschool as a family, together, with Jesus at the center of it all.
James 2:18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
May our homeschools be a place where we sow and reap a great harvest, for His glory 🙂