I write this post in the midst of a pandemic. So many families are hurting. Parents and educators alike are filled with fear as they consider the different options for this quickly-approaching school year. The post that I am about to compose may not be for everyone, and that’s ok. Even if just a few find some hope in it, it is worth writing.
For just a little while, I would like to speak to the parents out there who are considering homeschooling. Can I share with you that about six and a half years ago, I, too was considering the prospect of homeschooling my two daughters for the very first time? No, we were not in the middle of a pandemic and weren’t facing decisions of this magnitude, but, our eldest was drowning and needed rescuing. Up until that moment, homeschooling had not even crossed our minds. We had never considered it, and I for one didn’t want to do it. Until that moment. Maybe you are reading this and finding yourself at the same juncture. Until COVID hit last spring, you had never even dreamed of home educating your child. Yet, all of a sudden, homeschooling is a strong possibility for your family. But…you don’t want to.
These thoughts might flood your mind:
“This isn’t the way it is supposed to be!”
“I’m not educated enough to do this.”
“I don’t have the patience to do this.”
“I don’t have the time to do this.”
“My children are better off being taught by someone else.”
“My children will be behind if I educate them.”
“This is too overwhelming.”
“My children won’t thrive if I’m their teacher.”
There are many more that I could list–many more that went through my mind too.
Yet, here we are. We are beginning our sixth year of homeschooling and I wouldn’t want it any other way. What a surprising and unexpected journey this has been! Yes, it has been a life-giving experience for my children. I see the fruit of wisdom and virtue blossoming! But they are not the ones who have been wholly and completely changed by it. I am the one who has been utterly transformed.
I began this whole journey thinking that I was rescuing them. It was me that needed the rescuing. God knew that. This mom with three degrees by her name was about to be educated–for real! Can I confess that I have loved every minute of it? Even the hard days and the challenging moments seem to be overtaken by the joys of what we are discovering as a family. “To Know God and Make Him Known” is the motto of our homeschooling community. Oh friend, I know Him more because of this journey. My heart has been truly awakened to discover the true essence of what it means to be educated.
It’s not about grades. It’s not about keeping up. It’s not about looking good on paper. It’s not even about a future career. Not really.
It is about…
Beginning in wonder. Overflowing in worship. Growing in wisdom (thank you Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark).
It’s about igniting passion, cultivating virtue, inculcating truth, harmonizing discords (thank you Andrew Kern).
Its culmination is an echo in celebration as image bearers of our creator (thank you Leigh Bortins).
I confess that I didn’t start our homeschooling journey with all of these truths and ideals clearly codified in my mind. No. Our first year looked a lot like a public school classroom. I’m not speaking against public schooling. Remember, we had planned to public school all the way through! I’m saying that I was not called to school my children in that manner at home. It is supposed to look different. It took me about two years to finally peel away the expectations and philosophies I had been holding onto previously. But as each layer was shed, freedom increased. Peace flowed. Joy permeated. My children were the grateful recipients of my transformation. I was free to fully embrace the truth, goodness, and beauty of a Christian Classical Education.
But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to take two years to come around to a different way of thinking. I guess that is why I am writing this post. You can walk into homeschooling with a healthier mindset. You can avoid the mistakes I made. Even if you are thinking, “We will give it a year, and then go from there,” you and your children can have an amazing experience homeschooling just this one year. It will be a year they remember for the rest of their lives and look back on with fondness–even with your mistakes and their less-than-helpful attitude! A great way to start transforming your mind would be to click on the links I embedded in this post (look for the “thank you” and click on the names that follow). Regardless of the curriculum you plan to use this year, you will find great treasures in these books, talks and podcasts.
Now my girls are in 9th and 6th grades, respectively. As I look back over the last five years, I NEVER regret:
…the hours we have spent reading aloud or listening to audio books.
..the hours we have spent furnishing our minds with truths from every art/subject.
…the hours we have spent snuggled up on the couch talking about Jesus, and the hours we have spent talking about ideas and themes, poetry and music, art and the great books, history and geography, fractions and exponents, astronomy and biology…the list goes on and on. (Tip: The couch and the dining room table will be your best friends. Embrace them.)
…the hours I have spent learning WITH them.
I can now say at 45 years of age that I love math! What? Yes! With a classical education I have been given the space to wonder at the perfection and order with which our universe functions. I revel in numbers and in the connections between geometry, algebra and music. Yes, I’ve been transformed. I love diagramming sentences and uncovering the connections between all languages. I love talking about theology and the human condition with my fourteen-year-old daughter. I love watching HER make the connections between all the subjects she is studying. The same girl who had her head on the desk in third grade now wants to plan her entire semester. She is eager to learn. She is eager to discover. God did that in her–not me.
I love watching my youngest hone her artistic and writing skills. I thrill as she spins out stories and poems–inspired by what she has read and learned through her classical studies. God did that in her–not me.
God did that. Not me.
How do I know this? Because my children are created in His image. When they are digging deeper into an ancient story, recognizing logical fallacies, declining a Latin noun, drawing the world from memory, learning the scientific method, writing a persuasive essay, or singing out their multiplication tables they are echoing their Creator.
So, here is the clincher. If you are feeling led to homeschool–it’s not about what YOU can or cannot do. It’s about bringing before Him your imperfect, flawed, and scared self and trusting Him with your children. At first, it is going to feel like you are “doing it scared.” Guess what? Just about every parent who has home educated has had that feeling at one point or another. You are not alone.
I would also strongly recommend joining a community. Community makes homeschooling all the more wondrous. Your fellow journeymen will lift you up, commiserate, pray for you, and walk this path right alongside you and your family. Now more than ever, many families will be new at it–just like you. You are not alone.
I don’t know about other groups, but Classical Conversations is rolling out so many options for families–to meet them where they are and how they want to homeschool. CC Communities meet once per week and there are ways to meet in person and/or virtually. If you want to know more about those options, just contact me.
Imagine you had approached me ten years ago and proclaimed, “In just a few short years, you will be homeschooling your daughters. Through this process, a new passion will be ignited that will give you a depth of understanding about God, about being created in His image, about education, and about how His world is full of truth, goodness and beauty. Not only will you be homeschooling your own children, but tutoring and guiding other families in this philosophy.” I would have stared at you in disbelief. “That would be impossible,” I would likely utter. You would respond with a knowing glance and a smile would slowly spread across your face. “Get ready for a breathtaking journey, Kristin. It’s coming!” And, indeed it has come.
In the midst of pandemics, riots, shattered dreams, and uncertainty, God makes beauty from ashes. He works all things together for good, even when we can’t see it or understand it. This just might be the beginning of something new and wondrous in your household.
Trust Him. You won’t regret it.