Saturday, March 14, 2009

THE HEART OF HOMESCHOOLING

I never, ever thought I would be putting this in writing, but I have an official announcement to make. We are now a homeschooling family. Can you believe it? Do you remember my recent post about homeschooling and how I casually referred to possibly poking my eyes out at the idea of it? Wow, God can do amazing things in your heart. Actually, I should back up a bit.
When Kirsten was old enough to go to kindergarten, I wanted to homeschool her so badly. Richard was NOT on board with this idea. He wanted her to have "social" time, he pictured homeschooling the way it was in the 70's, he just wouldn't go for it. An excellent education is really important to him, and myself as well. Honestly, as much as I wanted to do it, I was also slightly terrified. What if I can't give her the education she needs? Will she be socially crippled forever? What if, what if??? So, we enrolled her in school. Then along came time for Hannah to start kindergarten, and we talked about this again. Again, we enrolled her in school. Every year since then, it creeps back into my thinking, and more and more each year. I am constantly telling myself that there is no way I can give them a better education than they get in the "most amazing school on the planet", as I call our wonderful school. But I knew God was working in my heart. And I have told my friends for years that I know God is preparing a place in our lives for homeschooling sometime in the future, but I just didn't understand why or know when it would be (right small group ladies?). Last fall, I could feel God's presence so vividly, and knew I had to obey his promptings to pull out of ministries I was involved in, and simplify my life. I was so frustrated and didn't understand, and really struggled. But I eventually submitted (there's that word) to His calling, and made some big decisions, knowing that there was a huge blessing in store if I only trusted and had faith. Looking back, it's becoming clear why I had to clear my plate, so that I could be still and "listen" to his direction for my life. He is changing our paths, and I could not be more thrilled!! I think it is the perfect time to begin our new life of learning together, cherishing every moment (especially those teachable moments), and stretching ourselves to discover more about our world together. I know it is going to be a huge challenge, probably one of the biggest challenges of my life so far. And yes, I am slightly terrified. But I know without a doubt that God is calling us to do this, and I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My prayer has always been, if this is something God was truly calling us to do, then He needed to place this as deeply in Richard's heart as it is in mine. I could never begin this venture without him behind us 200%. Well, apparently the prayer has been answered. Our hearts are now in the same place. We are going into this with the attitude of "let's try it for a year and see how it works". I know the first year of homeschooling is the toughest, and there is a lot of trial and error, but I'm ready for it! Kirsten will begin the high school years this fall, she will be enrolling in some classical on-line classes, as well as some co-op classes even taught by some of her former teachers. Our school has a homeschool co-op umbrella that we will be working through, so really it's the best of both worlds!! Kirsten is the type of student who needs some extra challenge, and will rise up to anything presented to her. I think she could absolutely soar in her academics, if this is done well. The possibilities and opportunities for a high school homeschooler are mind-numbing, and it's my job to find those opportunities for her. I certainly don't see myself as teaching her (since she knows so much more than I do), but I will guide her to the right places. But as a mom, I will be available for her precious heart as it grows and explores. What other teen do you know who would rather spend her days with her mom and sisters than with all her friends at school? I am truly blessed. And my Hannah will begin fourth grade in the fall, and I am so excited to work with her in areas that are an extra challenge for her. Her and I will be spending a lot of one on one time together. School has been a little overwhelming for her, and I think learning at home will really help her to branch out and grow tremendously! And little Miss Emily will begin two mornings of preschool in the fall at our school, that will be perfect for giving me some one on one time with Hannah, while there is a class Kirsten may possibly be attending at those times as well. Even this year, Emily and I have enjoyed "homeschool preschool" time together, and she will continue with her home learning as well. I am so excited about the AMAZING amount of possibilities there are for homeschoolers!! It is so different than it was even nine years ago when I first looked into this. Did you know that colleges even seek out homeschooled kids because they excel far beyond other students the majority of the time? They are self-motivated, independent, and often natural leaders. My girls are really, really excited about homeschooling, and that helps tremendously!! God has placed this deep desire in all of us, and I just know it will be a blessing! I am going to cherish these days, however long they last, of really investing in every part of my girls, and helping them grow in every area of their lives. I'm going to cherish the time together that can never be replaced. They both have such a thirst for knowledge and we can't wait to dive deeply into some areas of interest they both have. I have studied so many curriculums and am so excited about all the possibilities. I will be attending a homeschool convention in May with some other homeschool moms (but I promise I will not begin wearing long denim skirts!!). There is an amazing network of homeschoolers in our area, and I am lucky to have so many amazing women to talk through all my fears and excitement with! I met with our Headmaster yesterday to break the news, and we had a very encouraging talk. He was a little disappointed to lose one of his top students, but gave me some wonderful advice and encouragement! I'm glad I have so many months to prepare and get our home and schedules ready for our new lifestyle! It may not be forever, but it IS for now. It's clear.
So, instead of poking my eyes out at the thought of homeschooling (I think I was trying to protect myself and was in denial that God was calling me to this), and I am now counting the days until we can begin!! I know this is best for all of my girls right now, and we can't wait to see what's in store for us!! (And won't that big long kitchen island come in so handy now??)

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6 comments:

Jennie said...

I know you and the girls will be so blessed by this venture. You will, like you said cherish these days. If you get discouraged or ovewhelmed, call me. Wish I was closer. Let me know which curriculum you chose.

Nana said...

I am excited for all of you. I especially think it will be great for Hannah. Kirsten,like you say can probably teach herself. I have seen the many cool things that homeschoolers can do through Alice's blog and I think you are in for an exciting time. Give me some info on pre-school lit as I am trying to work with Tanek. He is absorbing so much, and I need to make it worthwhile. PS I like long denim skirts. Ha.

Alice said...

way to go,girl! kali and i are in our 10th year homeschooling. i retired when kali was just getting out of kindergarten and i felt God telling me to homeschool. i promised Him i would continue until He told me to stop. each summer i pray this through again, and each summer i still feel His call as strongly as i did that first summer. God is good and He will bless your homeschool as long as you keep Him at the center. Nana told me you were considering it. well, all i can say is...it's about time! congratulations!

Periwinkle Jen said...

Heather,
I first started reading your blog after the MOPS meeting where you spoke about photography and I've been coming back regularly ever since. Your photographs are beautiful. I love photography myself and I'm amazed at how you've made a business out of your passion.
I feel especially inspired by this post though because I've had many of the same thoughts about home schooling vs. traditional schooling. Sometimes I love the idea of homeschooling and all the opportunities it offers, but sometimes I wonder if I would do a good enough job and if my kids will suffer socially. My kindergartener recently asked me to teach him at home and although it was probably mostly because he didn't want to wake up that morning it brought the thoughts that sometimes flit through my head to reality. I'm still not sure if it is right for us, but I found your post thought provoking and inspiring. So, thank you.

Blessings,
Jen D.

Wife and Mom said...

I am so excited for you and the girls. It will be precious time together. Now if God could just tell you and Richard to move back here--we would all be happy. :o)

PS--I'll be praying for your girls--I hear that their new teacher is the meanest ever!

Kimberly said...

Yeah! What an exciting adventure you are embarking on! So proud of you for listening to God's leading. I know our years of homeschooling were part of God's plan for our family. They were wonderful times that I wouldn't trade for the world. I learned so much about my kids. Even though, I have since retired the denim jumper :), I'm thankful we had that time. Try and not get overwhelmed at the convention. It's a homeschoolers paradise! The first year I bought ALOT of stuff that I didn't need! Keep us posted!