Category Archives: burn out

When it Goes Wrong

We have all felt moments When it Goes Right.  Deep in our hearts things click- satisfaction, calm, rest, joy, peace all come together in a satisfying sigh of right-ness.  It is attainable.  It is what keeps us seeking the ideal by bettering ourselves and our children/families one day at a time through teaching at home, practicing what we learn, and mastering what we practice.  It is what causes people to comment on our children.  If you are like us, you get tired of hearing how ‘lucky’ you are and one day become bold enough to reply, “This is not luck, it is bloody hard work in action.”  With a sweet smile, of course!

What about the other moments, those that might dominate our days- When it Goes Wrong.  As homeschoolers we bravely and daily place ourselves to be confronted with the reality of our shortcomings.  Our need for growth.  One of my favorite realizations was that we are so eager to enter Heaven that we choose go through the fires of sanctification daily rather than baby step our way there during weekends/holiday (growth) moments scattering fire to get us through to a peace filled, quiet house Monday.  Who does this?!  Really!  If given the choice, using your brain rather than your soul, everyone would choose quiet days, clean homes, adult conversation.  But you did not- we do not….

…..and things go wrong constantly.  Well, not before the sweet little feet hit the floor each morning.  As I type I struggle with myself over waking the children or taking (stealing) another 30 minutes of quiet time to get my heart-thoughts on to paper.  In releasing myself from carrying guilt all day, I must simply make a clear and concrete decision rather than ‘just a few minutes more.’  They will remain in blessed Dream Land for 30 more minutes!  My timer is set.  My resolve is made.  My guilt laid down.  That, at least, is one thing that will not Go Wrong today.

Other things will go wrong- certainly.  I don’t expect them, prepare for them, nor look for them, but I am not surprised when they pop into our lives.  They have become just another welcomed moment in my day.   One that shows me where I can self improve as a wife, mother, teacher, friend.  Knowing that my days can Go Right places the times when it Goes Wrong in just the right light.  His Light that assures me that I can do better.  I can change.  I can try again to model the actions I desire to impart to my family/children through this journey of home education.  Things that Go Wrong are simply signs that we, ourselves, need to re-direct our thoughts, energies, and efforts.  The children will, most assuredly, eventually, follow.

Bad Habits vs. Thankful Habits

Lately I have recognized a bad habit of feeling sorry for myself when my husband or children do not recognize the hard work I put forth 24/7 which results in a lack of gratitude toward and agreement with Poor Little Me.  It was my husband who was brave enough to say, in the heat of the moment, “I don’t know where it is that you go in your mind, but it always gets us into this argument.”

No longer being newlyweds and knowing that his words are rarely meant to be hurtful, I had to back down and take inventory.  Sure enough, I go to this place of feeling sorry for myself when things are not going my way, the children are, well, acting like children, and my husband is not as supportive as I think he ought to be or in the ways I think he ought to be.  Yikes!  This describes someone that I would prefer not to be.

The beautiful thing is that I am not the Center of Truth, and with His help I can change who I am each moment of each day through the will power gifted by God.  That empty space that grows in my chest that longs for filling really has only one Puzzle Piece that can fit.  I just forget that and try to get quick fixes through my amazing husband and incredible children’s “Yes Mama, you are THE best!!”  “Yes, we can’t wait to do exactly what you say, exactly how you say, and with attitudes that please you.”

With this recognition came the need to figure out how to change this habit.  Habits can’t simply be stopped, dropped, or given up.  They can only be replaced with another habit.  AA works not because you stop drinking but because you shift from diving into your own sorrows with a bottle, into helping others with their sorrows and diving into a Higher Power (used to be called God, but that went out the window when PC flew in).  Note:  I am not an alcoholic….just in case you were wondering.  grin.

Being open to change left me Open to hear His voice which has been whispering through many friends, family, books, conversations of all that is in my life that is not usual.  All that allows me to serve deeply, love longer, live richly.  Substitute- Thankfulness!  Now when I begin to feel sorry for myself after working so diligently toward perfection only to find that my husband and/or children are not playing by the unspoken rules I set, I stop and begin to consider the many blessings that are laid in my lap as gift each day:

  1. Making promises to God to love, serve, honor, care for my better half and sticking to those promises, only to find that the hard times were the tilling of the soil for the sprouting of wonderful times.
  2. Staying at home to raise and teach our children in the way we believe will best serve their future selves.
  3. Having to skimp and save in order to make ends meet, realizing that the savings brought to our financial table was marked and allowed us to live on a single income, focus on family, find joy in living simply, find answers to specific and general prayers prayers (cloth diaper covers, size 4 underwear, girls winter clothing, healthier food), and then to be blessed during the recession.
  4. Bumbling into a home school leadership role that felt way beyond my abilities which has led me to all of you wondrous homeschooling families.
  5. Having a mother who forced the love of literature to discover that books take me beyond my small minded world.
  6. Having a father who specialized in PTSD while not in our lives as children but who brought me to wholeness (along with my other Father) as an adult.
  7. Children who force me to consider the importance of relationship over being right.
  8. Friends who challenge me to be the best version of myself. (love that Matthew Kelly!)
  9. Writer’s Circle and Lost Tools of Living camps that keep ideas fresh and teaching/learning exciting.
  10. My Better Half whose steady double type B anchors me, brings balance to our family, and sometimes painfully brings me to awareness of the side of myself that I would prefer to pretend did not exist.

 

Home School Gone Main Stream

Home School being main stream seems counter intuitive and even counter cultural but it is true.  There are more homeschoolers across the nation than private schoolers!  There are so many choices in curriculum, co ops, programs, on line classes, dual enrollment, etc that beginning this journey has become mind boggling.  I am so thankful that it was laid upon my heart to create Faithful Scholars into a realized vision of educating, empowering, and encouraging home schoolers through workshops, newsletters, Face Book Live events, one on one support, and more rather than requiring that you fit into my perceived box of what schooling at home is and is not or simply beginning your legal paper trail.  That being said, I am not knocking those groups as they are the perfect fit for many who find comfort in being told what and how to navigate through the freedom of homeschool or must run their school on a very tight budget.  However, I am thankful that Faithful Scholars grooves to the beat of a different drummer that enables us (my amazing, supportive Better Half and children, incredible office staff, and a top notch IT Team) to serve you beyond the norm.

Becoming main stream has given pause for reflection and I realize that we are so richly woven with threads of integrated primary roles – spouse, parent, and teacher that onlookers are drawn to discover what it is that gives us our joy, edge, vitality.  Call it what you will, but it is appealing and noticed from a distance.  In our undertaking to educate at home, we have have laid ourselves down to be devastated by His grace and will, and found that in doing so, we unexpectedly discover that we are covered by that very same grace.  Becoming aware of this option of being rescued from another person’s schedules, expectations, deliberations, and demands we find that those seemingly secure interactions pale in comparison to our integrated life of family, learning, and play.

Each day is alive with the possibilities, the expectations, of revelation, new, challenges and joys.  Our beings respond with praise and rejoicing in our everyday comings and goings whether we know this or not.  Taking this organic movement into the main lanes of educational options.  Our lives are compelling and mysterious.  People see us coming from a long way off and wonder.  Stopping in their tracks to observe our exchanges with our spouse, children and others, contemplating what has caused us to laugh with pure delight!  Ultimately deciding that they too want the brilliant, kind, curious outlook that they witness….and they come to ask hoping discover a deep well of love, patience, expectation and are drawn one step closer.  You may be tired, lacking your normal patience, yearning for a few more minutes of sleep, feeling burdened by lessons left incomplete, but before all of this, and in spite of all of this, you embody the peace, contentment, and joy that others seek!

The Praise Habit

This is the time of year where I (try to) back down on office work and bettering and bettering and order those ‘real’ items in my life that are neglected during the wonderfully busy Helping Times that bookend my year with Faithful Scholars–  helping families get started, advising on curriculum options according to the unique goals of each family, paperwork for intake, building individual transcripts, creating diploma’s, and all that brings me joy in serving and helping our incredible members each year.  All that to say, I can’t believe that I am getting on here to blog on the sunny and beautiful November morning rather than feeling content with our every other Friday afternoon Face Book Live sessions!  –but am thrilled to find myself here with you all!

What has brought me here is one of my favorite books titles The Praise Habit by the quirky, out of the box theologian by the name of David Crowder.  No wonder he draws me deeply into wonder.  Refreshing!!  This morning I was in the midst of contemplating whether I allow myself to be “engulfed and covered by God’s embrace” by seeking ways of placing myself in the path of “this embrace.”  Of course I don’t—I was built to serve.  At any rate, that has been my motto, and if you are a homeschooling parent, I am pretty sure this is in your top three thoughts.  In fact, how would I even put myself in the path of God’s embrace without feeling like a whiny baby?  I’m not sure, but I am going to contemplate this and see what comes.  Would you join me?  Does it not sound amazing to be engulfed, embraced, and covered by His love?!

“The spiritual life is first of all a life.  It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.”  – Thomas Merton

 

Advanced Learners

This year we are doing first grade, but the public school would have him starting Kindergarten.  He is just too advanced to hold back.

Don’t hold him back academically, but I would encourage you to keep him in the proper grade for his ‘future self’.  Don’t dumb down his work.  Many K’s are doing 1st-grade work, but come 3rd or 4th (or sometimes 9th) it becomes too difficult and they totally lose their self-worth as being ‘so smart’.

Label him the proper grade per age (we do this for kids who are behind grade level as well).

Teach at the level he is (above, at, behind grade level).

Tell him what a hard worker he is (but not that he is ‘so smart’)

Understand that he is and will continue to ‘play’ school until age 7, 8, or 9.  Be a fun playmate!

When it becomes real and no longer play is when you want to make sure there are no emotional wobbles due to labels or how proud you are reflecting your advanced student.

Never keep him at full speed/challenged/at potential, but rather move forward as he sets the tone with precept upon precept and concept upon concept.  Imagine if your husband said, “You are such a great wife that I expect you to work at your very best Top Notch day in and day out.”  Exhausting.  Overwhelming.  Draining.

Usually, a child will continue to be ahead in some subjects and fall behind in others as the years go along.  This is perfectly fine.  Completing all subjects of a specific grade level does not give validation or credence to work accomplished.  A year of math is a year of math even if only a portion of the textbook was covered.  You will complete the rest of it next year (or over the summer if you school year ‘round- such a lovely and relaxing approach to schooling!)

We have always made age 6 our K year.  My husband teaches in a college prep high school with tons of really bright kids who have been pushed ahead.  They are able to compete in the classroom, but not on the playing field or leadership as their bodies and emotions are still at the proper age.  And, it’s nice to graduate a man who is a bit more mature in age and wisdom than his peers…and we have loved having the extra year with them.

Impact of our Differently Gifted Children

A Note to Parents of Special-Needs Children by Maura Roan McKeegan

Earlier this month, in a story called “What I Saw on Respect Life Sunday,” I wrote about witnessing the love between parents and their special-needs children at Mass. This past weekend, by God’s grace, I had the privilege once again to see this kind of love in action when I sat at Mass in the pew behind my friend Marybeth and her daughter, Emily, who is autistic.

I have written before about Marybeth and Emily, and about the experience of being at Mass with them. The love between this mother and daughter has taken my breath away for years, ever since Emily was a little girl. Now an older teen, Emily still brightens every room with her childlike spirit, and renders me awestruck with her heartfelt devotion to the Mass.

When this Mass began, Marybeth and Emily opened the missalette, and together they followed along with the readings and prayers, Marybeth pointing to their place on the page, for the rest of the Mass. They found all the songs in the hymnal (hearing Emily belt out the name “Jesus” made me feel like I had a front-row seat to a worship session in heaven). When she recognized familiar Scripture verses and liturgical prayers, Emily recited them ardently along with the lector, deacon, or priest.

Over the years I’ve known her, Emily’s enthusiasm for every word and prayer of the Mass has never waned. Neither has the outward expression of the love between Marybeth and Emily waned; the way Marybeth puts her arm around Emily, and Emily leans into her mother’s shoulder—the back-and-forth of holding hands, rubbing backs, and touching heads—is a dance whose choreography hints of the divine.

Though I’ve seen this before, it always feels new, and so for the second time this month, the love between a parent and a special-needs child at Mass brought me to tears.

Afterwards, I was thinking about Marybeth and Emily; about the families I described in my previous article; about the other parents I know who have special-needs children; and about the grace that overflows in their presence. And I wondered—do these people know how much their witness means?

In case they don’t, I want to write this for them.

To the dear parents of special-needs children: We see you. (I am going to use the word “we,” because I know there are more people than just myself who feel the same way.)

We see the way you care for your child, the look of love in your tired eyes, and the gentle touch of your weary hand. We may not see you during the hours and hours you spend tending to your child’s needs in your home, when no one is watching. We don’t see you get up in the middle of the night, or do the same difficult things day after day after day. We can only imagine how much strength you need.

But we do see you when you bring your child out in public. Sometimes it is an enormous task for you to bring your sweet child somewhere, whether it’s because of how much effort it takes just to get from one place to another or because of how worried you are that your child will make noise in a quiet place. (We understand why it might make you self-conscious, but the noise your child makes doesn’t bother us a bit —in fact, to us, it sounds like heaven’s song.)

We see you, and we are so grateful. If you didn’t bring your child, we wouldn’t have the chance to witness your kind of love. A love that gives when more giving doesn’t seem possible. A love that emanates when your child smiles, talks, laughs, makes noise, and even when he gets upset, needy, and agitated. A love that reminds us that Christ loves us when we smile, talk, laugh, make too much noise, and even when we get upset, needy, and agitated.

If you didn’t bring your child out among us, we wouldn’t get to see this living picture of the love of God.

And yes, we know you aren’t perfect, and there are times when you don’t love perfectly. (We’re in the same boat.) That inspires us, too, because you keep going even when it’s hard, even when you don’t feel like you’re doing a good job, even when you don’t know if what you’re doing is really helping. Discouragement is part of love, too, when we’re human and want to love better and can’t seem to get it right no matter how hard we try. Don’t think for a minute that your feelings of failure from time to time make you less of a parent. They make you more of a parent. They prove how hard you’re trying to do a good job. If you weren’t trying, you wouldn’t feel like you’ve failed.

You’ve succeeded in what matters most: you have been faithful to the call to love and take care of your child, God’s child. And all of us who see that are blessed.

We also know that you’re not doing this for recognition, and that an onlooker’s expression of gratitude doesn’t hold a candle to the blessings you receive simply from being the parent of your extraordinary child. But everyone can use encouragement sometimes, and we want you to know that the work of your life does not go unnoticed.

May God grant you renewed strength as you drink from the stream of the Living Water. We also pray that, when you need help, you will feel comfortable enough to reach out to us, and that we will be able to support you as the Body of Christ.

Your child is beautiful; the way you care for your child is beautiful; and it is an honor and a privilege for us to bear witness to that love. In your example, the words of Jesus resound: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12).”

Growing Alongside our Young Adults

Dear Friends,

As I wrote to a friend this morning, the email touched on so many tender spots that many of us face but few of us share.   If you are not yet at this point in growing up, please do not be disheartened.  The journey has been full of warm fuzzies, incredible highs, inexplicable joys, and many moments where I just knew that we had the world by the tail and were doing it all well.

Life is life, and just like when you share something difficult with a friend (or a stranger) to discover that they are or have dealt with the same issue- this is one of those areas.   I take heart that struggle simply means that God is not done with me yet!!

Life does just keep winding around and about.  We thought it was difficult with all of those little ones running about leaving us sleep deprived and on the go.

It just continues but the stressors and problems come from deeper places within requiring more of us which can only be found by digging deep within our own souls.  It is tough!!!!  And I am a step behind where you are, so it is obviously simply going to keep on and on.   My anchor that brings balance is vulnerability given over to Christ.  That willingness for pie in the face wed to trust that God will turn it all for His good if I but stay the course seeing only one footstep ahead.

You are such a steady daughter for your dad, mother for you children, and I am certainly hoping that transfers to your husband as well.  Can’t imagine it does not, but sometimes that is too tender a place to keep open when being ripped open from all other angles.  By ripped open, I do not mean in a negative manner although it certainly is not pleasant.  I mean like an infection needing to be opened in order to heal.  We were so careful to raise our children differently, spiritually, tenderly.  Yet, somehow, those seedlings of self will, our over powering wills, our lack of wills, –all of that- dropped in there and come forth at some time.  Walking alongside these growing adults is one of the toughest things I have yet to do.  Trying to give them knowledge and wisdom for them to take or leave knowing that it would/could make all the difference between a wise or a foolish decision.  And yet, in the end it comes down to what it always comes down to.  Faith.  Faith that being open and vulnerable is the only way to ever experience the opposite feelings of fullness and joy.  Faith that we are His daughters and sons and His love and plans far surpass our own.  Faith that Jesus never showed up against a lily-white back drop.  Faith that I have/am giving my all and will be gifted the strength (stubbornness) to continue one moment at a time regardless of full hearts, broken hearts, aching hearts, jubilant hearts.

Have courage!

Going Slow is Sometimes Like Medicine

Ponder the last time you spent a day or an hour or a moment purposely going slow. A mom wrote the above title to me the other day after she had watched a box turtle meander along and fireflies dance. These are reasons to homeschool, right?

How is it that we get caught up in completing one more task, creating one more organized space, engineering one more functioning schedule, and then decide that now that we have a well oiled machine, er schedule, er family/school unit, we should add MORE!! We could achieve more if we put our children on a yellow bus, yet we chose a path less traveled. One with lots of lovely bends in the road bringing who knows what or who around the curve. Do we make and take the time to embrace those lovely surprises or do we groan as they come along knowing that they either must be ignored, avoided, or allowed to topple our proverbial apple cart?

A homeschool life is such a wonderful journey. Not always amazing in ways that warm the cockles of our hearts, but amazing the ways that life is amazing–BECAUSE of its continuous ups and downs. You may be one that makes every attempt to straighten out the road so as to avoid unexpected surprises or you may be one that zooms down the road so focused and fast that the unexpected surprises simply blur into the past. Or are you one to round the corner, see a slow turtle, and allow it to stop you in your tracks for many moments of goodness, beauty, and truth?

After all, you were probably NOT drawn to homeschool for the exacting nature and pace requiring drill sergeant-like attention to detail, pace, and accomplishment. Quite the opposite. We innately recognize that we are fully equipped to lead, guide, and teach our children towards Truth. In that we study Beauty. Through this we find Goodness.

How was your year? Can you remember the times that you watched the turtles plod and the fireflies dance? If you are like me, you know that you did take a few of those moments, but can’t recall doing it as much as you would like. For my part, my morning cuppa will be spent on my backyard deck or wandering about my yard or peeking at my sleeping children. Dishes can wait, the house will always need a tidy up, and business hours need not be done away with simply because a laptop can travel far too easily.

Grass is Greener

The grass is always greener when seen from a distance.  My fellow homeschoolers all have it together while I still flop and flounder.  Or am I just looking at things from the wrong angle?  My side view shows beautiful lush green.  Step into the middle of that ‘grass’ and suddenly, as you look directly down and about, you see the bare patches and realize that much of the green is made up of weeds.    Perspective is a grand thing, but can only be attained if we get outside of our own safe world of opinions and judgements.

Once we realize this phenomenon, do we give others grace?  Or do we continue to berate ourselves as not having it all together because of X, Y, Z which ‘they’ obviously have and you do not have?  Let’s lay down our defenses and focus on the work at hand.  Then, when you look up, you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with a friend helping to decide how best to improve or utilize your bare spots and weeds.

Curriculum is a Tool, Not a Goal

As we excitedly plan out our learning and lessons for next year it strikes me how the butterfly-joy welling up from within is based on the journey rather than thoughts of the completion of another year.  It feels like running into a dear friend who has been out of town for a while.

In the beginning, I thought it was about getting through a long list of requirements year by year.  The concept of being able to fall into a lesson of intrigue and remain there for as long as we wished is foreign- feeling somehow that it must be wrong, illegal, something.

After years of following my heart instinct, experiences have confirmed, in multiple ways due to various and sundry children’s testing, attending school, going to college, etc. that this method works.  But, it still feels confusing to educate in such a non-traditional manner.

We use books- many books but rarely follow one all the way through as we don’t believe that gives a worldview from which to platform discussions.  We learn how to learn traditionally because that is the world we live in.  However, day to day lessons are fluid, aimed at my children’s future selves, built toward their interests and gifts.  Rarely are two days alike.

There is rhythm to each day, there is sequence to our lessons, there is beauty as well as tears, and there is trepidation that I’m missing something, I’m doing it wrong, I’m fooling myself.  God is giggling right now as He whispers in my hear, “Katie, my beloved, that is faith.  Trust.”

Harmony- She is Illusive

Finding harmony based upon routine is one of a homeschoolers core daily struggles.  Even for those of us who are determined to maintain a fluid day, there must be some order.  When do the children wake, what lessons are the big slimy toads and need swallowing first, who needs what nutrition at what time in order to balance out minds and moods, do I answer the phone or pretend not to listen to the voice leaving a message, do I check emails or call it multi tasking as I take a potty break, and on and on.  So, fluid is wonderful, we strive for it, but what gives us the most harmony is doing as we ought to do based upon what routines we have put into place.  To let these go for a day, much less a week, means having to push start a solidly build iron caboose all over again.  Obviously we don’t relish that idea, so why not put it off for one more day, and one more day, and disharmony arrives without us even noticing.

Keeping motivated for our own chores, expectations, meaningful work etc. is only the beginning.  On top of this we must guide and encouargae our children in this same area- this same area that we so often stutter-start, falter, and fail in.  It is a constant seeking.  One that is most often just illusive enough to erringly convince us that it is unattainable.  —And then we grasp it; hold it for a few precious moments; become exhausted in the maintenance it requires; lighten our grasp– and out ‘she’ goes to be sought once again.  It is in the journey that we grow, not in the reaching of the destination.  That is the wonderful thing.  Enjoy the journey.

 

Considering Homeschooling- education vs. being educated

Homeschool is about creating a culture of education, daily devotion to curiosity, and practice of diligence toward discipline.  It is more about character and less about the completion of, or in some situations, the ‘experience’ of, material.  Homeschoolers use books to grow our children in the areas of faith and diligence.  An incredible academic education is almost a lovely side effect of teaching at home.

Consider the fact that one must be educated in order to truly understand, practice, and defend their faith.  To be diligent and kind one must understand the parameters and purposes of such acts; why they ought to be grown from within; why they desperately need to be practiced each day.  These acts are caught rather than taught.  Following goals of completing a book simply for the sake of checking off a subject in order to progress to the next book will be hard pressed to lead a child to faith and character.  Reverse that order and it is such a lovely and common sense approach for a person to use books, any books, to grow our children in stature AND education.

“The goal of education should not be the completion of a book, but, rather, the lighting of a fire.”  Some famous sage made this statement ages ago.  Wish I could remember their name for you, but I think those brain cells shrunk with baby #4 or was it #5?

When we school at home we have the time to model for our children.  We have daily pressure to walk what we talk rather than the need to preach into the void of time between school, practice, homework, and sleep.  We unlimited opportunities to socialize and learn alongside other children/parents with the same end goals rather than a wave in a carpool line and a hope that your child is no longer hanging out with (insert nemesis name here).  There is no need to undo 8+ hours of gunk build up in order to get back to an open and teachable attitude.  Instead, we must work on ourselves in order to know when to lead, guide, encourage, respect/love, chastise, or challenge.

Homeschooling mamas have such a desire to get to Heaven that we daily open ourselves up to sanctification through educating our children.    When we school at home, we have the time to educate our child in a lasting manner that considers and encompasses their whole life rather than simply preparing them for college.  Education should be a lifelong quest.  Modern education stops between the ages of 18 and 24 with nary a book to be opened again.  Once they head out your door, the time for imparting faith, character, and kindness is over.  However, if they have been encouraged to find joy in learning, satisfaction in doing hard things, respect/love in following their curiosity, they are well prepared to learn anything they would like in college and beyond.

God can redeem all things,  Please do not read into this that I am discounting His power.  I rely on His power as mine falls so far short- and I seek this homeschool quest daily with a couple of decades of experience.

I can think of nothing more worthy of my weekdays than practicing and speaking consistent love into the hearts and minds of my girl-women, and practicing and speaking consistent respect into the hearts and mind of my boy-men– using books as one of my main mediums.  Our whole house becomes a part of our Culture of Education, lessons are taught and caught all day long no matter the location, the book, or the time.  It is who we are- people who are curious- people who learn- people who master- people who share with others.

Our whole house becomes a part of our Culture of Education, lessons are taught and caught all day long no matter the location, the book, or the time.  It is who we are- curious people, learners, masters, givers, etc.  As if there could be nothing better:  We share this gifted journey with a community of like- minded people who we can truly get to know during hours of socialization while we guide our children toward the common goal of educating the whole child.   Those who understand the difference between an education as something to worship vs. being educated in order to live fully as God intends for each and every one of us.

My prayer for this blippy blog is that you might haver a better understanding of the difference between an education as your end goal vs. education as a lifelong pursuit to live fully in communion with others- as God intends for each and every one of us- loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Have Your Standards Dropped?

As the year went along did your standards go along with it?  ….You may be a homeschooling mama if….. you are an idealist who cannot maintain her ideals because there are so many of them!

The year begins, you have your curriculum set, your daily master plan laid out, and your energy reserves on high.  This is going to be the best year ever!  I mean EVER!  THIS is the year for perfect penmanship.  Day one is a wake up call to tune of ‘nobody wants to do school’.  To be honest, neither do you.  Perhaps this is day two or three at your home, but at some point the rosy bloom fades as we (children, mom, dad) realize a root word of home school indicates entry into trenches of hard work.

How can this be with such incredible lesson plans, wonderful academic groups, stellar social outings?  Standards begin to slip with a lesson here and there under the daily duress caused by a little one waking with The Grumpies and derailing the day.  (*on my best days I remember to send this child back to their room immediately as this attitude illness is highly contagious)  We convinced ourselves that a once a week lesson in insert nemesis subject here is adequate and/or will be caught up on during insert holiday/weekend here. (*on my best days I remember to eat the slimy toad first)  Somehow said slimy toad does not make it back to the A List.

Fast forward a few months and the What-Did-I-Forget-This-Year joins the What-Did-I-Forget-This-Day going to sleep review.  …Never caught up in that subject ….forgot to add in this subject… did we cover enough in those subjects?  Realizing we dropped some subjects altogether we ask how and when this could have happened?  Looking back you find that your last check date was JANUARY THIRD???!!!!  Were we even doing school that near to Christmas?  Well, it is my handwriting, so we must have been unless another alien abduction occurred.

Is recovery possible?  Happily, the answer is yes–if you want to, if you summer-school, if you realize the subject was a much-needed-basic as opposed to a fun-sounding-filler.  What’s up with all these hyphens?!  If your subject of concern falls within the first catagory, the good news is that you can focus deeply on this area over the summer.  This includes high schoolers.  If you fall into the latter category, realize that some of what you placed on your child’s lesson plan was temporal busy work that you saw as ‘fun’ (worksheet worship) rather than eternal expansion that is often seen as ‘play’ (explore/discover/create).   In either case, you can lay down your guilt, and know that you will be wiser in planning and executing next year.  You have given your best and realized that, as always, you fell short of perfection.

You may be a homeschooling mama if…..you want Heaven so badly you are willing to submit to daily sanctification applied through your children.

 

End of Year Fizzles

What leads to burn out at this time of year? How can we instead be encouraged, or at least enjoy a motivated push toward the finish line? We have had lovely Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, perhaps a Winter Break and a Spring Break, yet April and May are the times that, while life renews within and without, our home schooling days feel heavy. It did not used to be like this. We could complete our year focused on finishing well and spend the summer mulling over what worked, what we loved, and begin building our home school dreams & plans for the next year. April and May were times of wrapping up this year. It was a time of digging in and remaining attentive.

For those of you who know what next year will look like (and do not direct a program) you know what I am talking about. It is wonderful. For those who don’t it seems the final quarter of homeschooling becomes a burden rather than a joy and you begin wondering many less than positive things about yourself, your sanity, your children, their ability, and on and on. You must not go there. You must realize that it is the result of modern homeschooling. I love homeschooling in community, but it does come with a price. I feel the price is worth it, but would that I could discover a route that avoided springtime burnout.

My theory is that due to the many programs that require early registration our purpose of completing the current year well is derailed. Families are pressured to examine next year’s options while knowing that this year still needs tweaks. We spend hours mulling over the pros & cons, discussing the ifs & thens, we pray, we stress, we gnash, we groan, and, ultimately, we are driven mad to decide what is best for the future while the present is pending. — AND we recognize that our homeschool needs change day by day making it likely that a whole lifetime of change may occur between signing up now and beginning classes in the fall.

Handling these decisions while maintain the stamina of your current post-February-homeschool-groove that-probably-took-a-while-to-find-after-the-holidays is overwhelming. What is the solution? Perhaps we can approach our years two at a time. Plot a plan to include options we are drawn to, plot this year, and plot what might occur this year that would lead you toward another program for next year. Perhaps we could schedule it into our To-Discuss-During-Holiday-Travel time. By placing this decision making process into a time of rest and removing it from our time of work it may deflate the pressure that leads to spring quarter homeschool burn out.

With that decision out of the way and no suffocating feeling that we must make up lost time, we can take a Spring break or two focused on planting new seeds outside or new ideas within. We can close the history book early and decide that a road trip to a historic monument would better suit our euphoric sunny moods. We can observe the building of a nest rather than the ticking of a clock. We can focus on the present, on the season, on the beauty that is school at home.

Academic Worship vs. Child Centered Learning

The MAIN THING is not the main lesson nor the main book although we get caught up in ever progressing while within we innately understand that our books are simply springboards toward faith and character. Homeschooling is a phenomenon of immense beauty which ever teeters on the brink of going awry through one of two extremes. The over diligent-if-you-can-accomplish-that-in-15-minutes-then-we-should-do-more-lessons vs the easily distracted get-the-kids-started-while-I-begin-x,y,z-and-they-are-quiet-so-I’ll-squeeze-in-a,b,c-as-well. I totally know where I fall as I type to you all.

In step the Lovelies of homeschool: Faith and Character. This could be re-stated as the understanding/trusting that what is spoken by a parent will come to pass (diligence), or what is required by a parent will be asked for (fortitude). No matter how we term our main goals, they are faith and character. The child must have faith in the parent; in the parents modeling; in the parent’s consistency that his/her word is meant when spoken; in the parent’s ability to love strongly; in the parents commitment. You stand in for God at this time. If your child can trust you, who they can see, how much greater will they be able to trust God? And vice versa. When this comes to pass, character is one of the visible facets exhibited much like feeling a lovely breeze on your face is a visible facet of wind. It is how we know that what we are doing is working -however slowly. Be encouraged, it is working if you see even the smallest of indicators at home or in public.

You may be caught up in frantically completing your books at this time of year. Sstressed to the point of wishing you could just stay in bed. Leading the family in a stress-fest feeding (off the guilt you choose to carry in your heart) frenzy. Take heart, lay down the guild, and focus on ONE thing that you can change—Yourself. You will wonder at how quickly and one change will positively affect those around you.
You probably got caught up in feeling that completing the book is more important than the manner in which it is completed. Easily and often fallen for, and such a heady rush when achieved. Finding balance is key. Completing books is not bad as long as it is approached with the child’s well being and true education at the center. If you hear yourself giving reasons for your stress that include a lot of ‘I’ statements, you may be caught up in the vision the world has for your home school rather than what God has called you to (work in your children and family).

How to turn this bus around? You have stopped, taken heart, laid down the guilt, and focused on what you can change, right? Once that is set in order look at your child:
Are they slow because they process slower or are dyslexic? Then slow down your pace and complete what you can with mastery and enjoyment. Focus on their diligence. Check for completeness of work. Test (or discuss) for mastery of small amounts at a time. This will build with so much ‘righting’ itself (seemingly on it’s own) between the ages of 13-20. Sadly so many write the child off by that time. GREAT BOOK: The Gift of Dyslexia
Do they work slowly because they understand that their schooling is not that important to you as is seen through your lack of checking their work, following through on your threats, or even making sure they are doing their work at all? If so, create a plan that has you sitting at the table with them while they work, or move them to where you work, or move as your chores move you. It is very similar to the 24/7-attach-the-puppy-to-you-training that works so well. Just because they are older and can work independently, they need to know that your set boundaries mean something. If you want their Wordly Wise answers to be in complete sentences, you must check often enough to keep the lines clear. This is me right here that I am talking about, and let me tell you how well and how quickly this turn around works. I am amazed at how much love this speaks to my children. Between you and me, they become gushy and mushy little and big darlings. Additionally we all have more time to work and delve into afternoon projects. What lovely side effects! GREAT BOOK: Created for Work
Are their hearts hardened toward your teaching? Making you feel like that awful nagging gong? Try focusing on the child’s needs rather than the book’s pages. We are so quick to believe what the world tells us: (think nasally announcer voice) “The farther you go academically and the faster you get there the more of the world will be open to you.” It is true that more doors will be open to your child, but God has just one that they need walk through, and that is a given that it will be open to them- I am talking earthly doors here since we are talking present tense, in the ditches, working-day reality. They will need to have a soft heart to hear it’s Resident whisper, “That is the door.” Regain their heart, rebuild a trusting relationship based upon something other than one page after another. They can learn at any time. Once they leave your house character will come at a far greater price. Boys want respect. Girls want love. Are you able to respect your sons choice to ignore his schoolwork and sneak gaming time? If you put it in those words he may listen to the words that follow about how successful men are not those who shirk their duty. Then walk away. Can you love your daughters inner beauty even when she chooses coverings which to hide behind? Are you able to tell her how loveable her giggling with a friend is, and how that will make some lucky man joy-filled to wake to each day? Start small. It will grow. You may think you ave nothing to work with. It is there. God is way bigger than we give Him credit for when we are in a rut seeing no way out. GREAT BOOK: Mothers and Sons

If you have a situation that is crushing your joy of teaching reach out and let’s chat ideas and options. Homeschooling is an incredible gift-journey to be able to choose, but it is not the easy road. That being said, we should rarely find ourselves gnashing our teeth and wanting to throw out the baby with the bath water. You might be a homeschooling mama if you are resilient, introspective, and willing to grow regardless personal cost.

You all are doing something amazing. Changing the world one child at a time. It is unbelievable what solid jobs you are doing in building a nation of faith filled, character filled men and women. Oh, and, the nice side effect, they are educated beyond their peers and able to self govern which allows an outward focus for serving others. Thank you for the gift of serving your family!

…..You might be a homeschooling mama if it is 9:45 and you are just thinking about waking your children… (this is one of my ways of avoiding letting them see me distracted from my main goal of raising them. grins and giggles forever!