I read other homeschool blogs where the moms list a schedule of their day and the many activities they are involved in. Much time is spent running around trying to achieve the best for their children. Unfortunately, it always makes me feel inferior and wonder what in the world is wrong with me that I don’t get as much accomplished.
I know the answer to that question. It’s because I value relationship over school.
Let me explain. Since we adopted in 2000 I have been challenged daily in my beliefs and understanding about education, how the brain works and what is truly important. With neurotypical kids (like my 2 bio kids) a strict schedule and disciplined academic study may be typical and preferred. However, I don’t believe it’s right for my adopted kids and I didn’t even follow this model wholeheartedly for my bio kids.
I have an overall plan for my children with goals for their lives at the end of their homeschool education. For every single one of them, I desire that their relationship to Christ be more important than any other and that they will walk by faith in determining God’s plan for their future. We try to achieve that goal through Bible study, personal alone time with God, conversation, church worship and activities, friendships with other believers, and mission trips, to list a few. This is not the only thing we do in our homeschool but it sets the foundation for what we believe is most important.
As the kids are growing up we try to encourage their interests as much as possible within reason. We might not be able to go on every field trip or take every lesson but there is plenty of variety in the activities we explore each day. My oldest daughter thought she wanted to be a pastry chef so she spent months reading about cake decorating and making a cake for every family celebration. She bought some equipment and got started. Her creations were remarkable! However, she discovered through this process that she really didn’t enjoy it that much! Or at least not enough to make it a career. She could have spent years in school studying this further and realize too late it wasn’t the best choice for her. Oh, the beauty of homeschooling!
So where does the relationship aspect come into play? Through our adoption and the many trials and triumphs we’ve experienced, M and S have taught me that no matter how, what or when I teach, if their heart is not connected to the family it will be for naught. If my child can do Calculus and Advanced Sciences but gives no value to life and relationships it will have accomplished nothing. If my student can write a brilliant essay yet uses his words to manipulate and hurt I will have failed at the things I consider most important. If my children don’t respect and love their parents they might never have a healthy reciprocal relationship as an adult.
For me, this has meant stepping back many (many, many, many) times and asking God what is most important for this day. Is it beating those math facts over their heads one more time (and sometimes the answer is yes) or is it about stopping what we’re doing to address the heart issues? To try once again to overcome the fear of abandonment, the debilitating shame and anxiety that encompass their hearts. Letting the child know in that moment that he/she has my complete and total attention. Praying over them one more time that they will take to heart the blessing they are from God, chosen by Him for our family, innocent victims of a fallen world.
Parenting children with attachment and learning issues can be challenging and utterly exhausting. I have to ask myself if it’s really worth the struggle today over learning the parts of speech and algebraic equations. The answer may be that it is because we have to push through. Diligence and perseverance are qualities we value highly. But those qualities apply just as much to diligence at winning my children’s hearts and perseverance to love them in spite of their anger and disrespect and manipulative games.
This also applies for my bio children as well. Our desires for them are the same. The path to reach their individual goals will look different in every child, but reaching the heart of each of our children is most important.
How do I know this works? My oldest daughter just got married and calls/texts/facebook messages me almost every day. We are best friends who can talk about anything and everything. She comes to me for advice and wisdom because I’ve been mentoring her for the entire 22 years of her life.
My son is at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is our first to go to college and I was scared to death wondering if he would get in. He did and even received some scholarship money. He moved on campus and started school in August with a major in Christian studies and a minor in music. He felt God calling him into ministry at the tender age of 11 and now he is continuing that pursuit in college. He adores school, loves the challenge, is a social butterfly and passionate about God. Does he call me every day? Nope. Does he Skype every day? I’m happy at once a week. Does he text me? Fairly often, but not ever enough for me. Yet on Sunday he texted us with a request for prayer concerning a possible worship position at a local church. He knows we are always available for him.
Let me also say that I am not criticizing the way others homeschool. The life and family situation of each homeschooler is different. That’s the beauty of it! I don’t have to follow someone else’s plan because I know my kids best. Others do not have to be as flexible if structure works better for them. I have years to grow and learn and be molded by God just like my kids do! What works one year might not work the next. One child may love worksheets, the other may only like verbal questions and answers. I might need outside help with on teaching a difficult subject or I may be just the one to teach the practical life skills that are so valuable.
Time after time I have seen the fruits of our lives poured into our children. I have watched M and S transform from children who play dumb as part of their coping skills to children who are excited about learning and are pushing beyond their limitations to seek God’s best. I am honestly enjoying a homeschooling rejuvenation in my life as many of the pressures of the last few years are easing. Every day is not perfect by any means but God is reassuring me that I am in the exact place where He wants me. At home with my children, learning about God’s grace renewed every day.