homeschool friend

We need each other. A friend once told me that I was not meant to be alone in this world, without friends, without support, and without a group of Christians to meet with. I am not easy to be friends with, but it’s not for lack of love. I love people who come into my life. In this fallen world there is always a piece of me that feels like I’m not worthy to connect with others. Sometimes I feel damaged. And the truth is that I am, we all are on some level. The great thing about being damaged is that there is more need for, and maybe more room for, Christ. Everything I do is either in my own strength, with my own ideas, or by His Life which beckons me from every direction. Even the trees outside the window as I type this are reaching towards Him with leafy arms stretching out. I did a lesson with the little kids about trees yesterday and I noticed how they stretch to the sky and reach for heaven. I want to be like the trees all the time.

We’ve homeschooled from the beginning. I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned myself in the last 5 years. Much of it has come in the last two years as I’ve come to walk more closely with the Lord and He’s found His way into my life as a whole. Chris and myself have looked into the many homeschool groups in Kansas City. One in particular is grabbing our attention. So I have been emailing back and forth with the contact and the application is on my desk, un-filled out as I contemplate making this huge commitment. In joining we would be paired up with a family, maybe two, who is brand spankin’ new at homeschooling- a first or second year family. And we would take them under our wing and mentor them. Homeschool mentoring, in this group, will be for support because just like a new mom needs support, a new homeschool mom does too. Curriculum is not something we’ll mentor them on, or even which books to use. Of course if asked what we do I will gladly explain, but homeschooling is not about those things anyway. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and no matter which lifestyle we choose, we all need support. 

In the few years we’ve been hs’ing I have discovered that everything can be used- even advice from professional classroom teachers. In the beginning I thought I needed to be like a teacher in a classroom so I bought everything I could that would lead me in that direction. About a year later I broke out of that mold and went in the other direction. We bought KONOS unit study volume 1 and I vowed not to be one bit like a classroom. This is when I really began to immerse myself in homeschooling and learned that it’s slightly similar to teaching and school, but a whole different animal altogether. At the time I was also about to step out of the institutional church and another year and a half away from becoming a part of one. In my mind I see the two topics the same way. Organic church and homeschooling have both been very freeing and natural, but when I try to imitate what the schools do, or I try to imitate Christ rather than live by His life, it’s flat. Yes, I do enjoy the occasional review of a curriculum, but by now, I know what works and what doesn’t and it is a very individual thing, it wouldn’t work for another mom with a different personality with different kids.

I have also learned not to discount teachers who worked in public schools. We have a teacher in the family and so often I was steered in a direction that would not have worked for my kids. But, I also became arrogant in that I stopped listening to anything a teacher had to say. Classroom teaching and learning at home are as different as  being taught Christ from a pew and being taught Christ be expressing Him with a family.

The thing is, even pastors have a piece of Christ to share. They have studied years to become pastors and they love the Lord like I do, they just do it differently. I have teacher friends and a teacher in the family and I have learned that they do in fact know quite a bit and can be helpful, but it has more to do with their love for kids and learning and books, than it does their job. And just like I take a homeschool manual and tweak it so that it’s a perfect fit for us, the same can be done with knowledge shared by a classroom teacher. I have taken great advice and gone about following it in the context of how we learn and it’s helped. I have learned not to discount anyone.

So as I freak out about mentoring another family or two, I realize that it’s my weakness which will allow Christ to show through. I will share our journey and rather than point her towards what we do as a family, I will share with her (the homeschool mama) that no matter how tough it gets, there are shoulders to lean on. Some of my homeschool friends have become the best I’ve ever had and I keep in touch with still. Most of them use a completely different method, not to mention curriculum than I do, but surprizingly, curricuum has very little to do with homeschooling. I will share with her what a respected and admired mentor and author once shared with me (in a book)… your worst day homeschooling is still better than the best day in public school because your children are with you and they are learning from their parents, who love them.

Last week we took a day off from our routine in order to clean the house. We have morning chores and evening chores and cute little chore cards I found online, but the house needed a deep scrubbing. I also needed to catch up on cooking and baking. My sons learned to cook and clean that day. We spent the day together doing chores and jobs a wife will probably do for them one day. When they get their first job as a policeman(Jake, which is wierd because he’s really bad), a machanic(Hunter) and an engineer(Ben) and they are getting ready for work in the morning, it will be more helpful to them that they know how to cook a good breakfast for themselves than it will be to diagram a sentence. I believe in showing them what they need to know, not to pass tests, but to actually live in the real world. There are Ivy league schools seeking out homeschoolers these days because they are prepared for the “real world”.  My kid can write a beautiful sentence and use vocabulary that blows me away. And he learned it from reading good sentences, copying good sentences, and being spoken to with proper English, not from taking a sentence apart and labeling each part.

That’s all I’ll need with the new families we take under our wing, encouragement to pour out on them. I won’t need to teach them anything, they’ll find their very specific, unique way. I will simply be a person to lean on and I will be a friend as best as I can. I don’t need to know everything about every curriculum, I just need to express Christ to this family in the form of love. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help her feel better abour her abilities by not being high and might just because I’m a few years in. Those who presented themselves that way, in the homeschool community, really turned me off and it never made me feel good about anything. I want to come alonside another human being and help them to see that they are qualified, able, and the best possible person to teach their kids… just like some beautiful women did for me once. I want to encourage, not tear down, and so I’ll support any decision she makes. The Lord made me to be a listener, not a good advice giver, so that is the strength I’ll use. And finally, I am most excited about what I have to learn from her. What will I see through her fresh eyes and how will I be inspired by her newfound freedom in homeschooling? I can’t wait to find out.

Thank you for reading today. If are a homeschooler feel free to comment on what you would tell yourself if you could go back to year one. What’s the one thing you’ve leaned in your journey that you wish you knew in the beginning? I hope to hear from you?

Love,

Jackie

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