Homeschool. Good Eggs & Graduations.

This whole thing is actually her fault. My friend, that is, henceforth referred to as HoWWFII (Homeschooling Wonderwoman Whose Fault It Is.) She’s homeschooled her own 3 kids in the U.S., emigrated for 2 years to Zimbabwe, where we met, changed their lifestyle and outlook radically because, well, deepest darkest Africa will do that to ya, and then parted with every material possession and went back home to the U.S. all whilst homeschooling, and remaining alive… husband, kids, dogs and all (she’s pretty resilient.) HoWWFII met my kids, and knew they would benefit from homeschooling, as they… well, they were going crazy. Luke’s days consisted of mostly desk work (insanity), writing (torture) and auditory teaching from a stressed out teacher (horror). He went from wearing headphones playing classical music in Grade 2 in order to get through the writing work, to a full year of Ritalin in ever-increasing dosages in Grade 7. HoWWFII started praying for me with my first full whining session about how worried I was about my kids, and how I couldn’t do anything about it. She gently mentioned (she’s very gentle) that they would really do well in a homeschooling environment. I was deaf to all things homeschooling, because I feared that my OCD, impatient, intolerant, perfectionist tendencies would kill the children, and then kill me. But HoWWFII continue to pray through my consistent whining and worries (she’s quite persistent) and here I am. I took my time getting here, but God had some hectic work going on, and it takes time dammit.

This is an email I sent her, right at the beginning of this journey:

This whole mess, this whole thing, this situation, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT. You and your prayers, and your little seeds that you would sow quietly, and everything. I blame you. 

We are CONSIDERING homeschooling Luke and Ethan. I’ll wait while you dance around the room shrieking. 

Ugh. The whole school system here SUCKS. Cookie cutter, no discretion, no creativity, no holiness, no uniqueness. And my kids are so unhappy. And we are so unhappy. And they’re not learning. And they’re not living. And so, here we are. Everything is ready. I can find communities to help, I can get curriculum, I can be structured and teach well, I can make decisions about what language to do, what stories to read, etc. BUT IT’S ME. I am so selfish. I don’t WANT to be with my kids all day. I love them and I want the best for them, but this is everything of me, and it may just kill me. 

Seriously though, please pray for me- more specifically to this, I mean. I’m just the problem here. I keep talking myself crazy- I can’t do this, what the hell am I thinking, etc? I can so clearly hear and feel God’s gentleness, but I feel like I’m too big a project for Him sometimes. Grr. Pray. I love you. I blame you. I hate you. I thank you. I love you. 

Bye. 

The reason for the intro about HoWWFII is that I had been thinking about her oldest, who has just graduated. Like proper, proper. Real graduated, not fake “Noddy-badge” type graduated. The child has done work, assessments, essays, calculus even! AT HOME. And some of it in PYJAMAS, no doubt. And now he’s choosing what to do with his life. And I have not been able to shake the thought…does the world know this? That a child can be homeschooled, and succeed?? (Huge intakes of breath and gasping heard worldwide.) And he’s not weird either, I know him. He is a wonderful young man with a heart for missions, and he has the whole world in front of him. Is there not a scale thingy like on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where the goose lays the golden egg, the egg runs down a chute and lands on a scale, and it judges the egg “good” or “bad?” He would be a good egg, not a Veruka Salt.

 

In my social media life, I follow quite a few Americans in the blogging/parenting world and this graduation thing is a big deal. When your child graduates, you, as a parent, get t-shirts and mugs and things. And there’s HUGE ceremonies and parties pexels-photo-267885and announcements, and you phone in to your local radio station and say Congratulations to the graduation class of Whitaker High! Way to go, Eagles. Or Bears or whatever. But HoWWFII hasn’t got any t-shirts or mugs or parties or Tigers or anything. And in my first humble weeks of homeschooling two of my boys, I’ve realised that this can be a lonely path. Yes, there is community and support and all that, but the daily I’m-here-to-help-you-love-learning-so-that-the-world-is-your-oyster is really quite a solitary place to be. The kids certainly don’t wake up everyday and say, Yay, Mom! You again! Woo hoo, that’s wonderful. Oh, thank you so much for your sacrifice! I know you could be out in the aisles of a clothing store, or having coffee and witty, adult conversation with girlfriends, but I am so pumped about doing fractions/the periodic table/essay writing with you today, I can hardly contain myself!

And all I want to do is shout it from the rooftops. Go HoWWFII’s all over the world! You totally rock!! You made some damn good eggs, so good, in fact they actually don’t even feature on a Willy Wonka scale. AND some of you had daughters!! Oh my word, this blows my mind. Because I only recently (like in the last 10 years of my life) found out what a “sorority sister” is; not the University campus thing, the other thing. For other boy-moms / brothers-only women like me, it’s when a woman has her time-of-the-month and then has a daughter, and like an iTunes library, their cycles SYNC!! I can hardly get over it, so please excuse the exclamation points everywhere. So homeschooling moms with daughters had to plough through Parts of Speech and Trigonometry when they were both pre-menstrual. Lord, above. Speaking of whom, I have directed this mystery to Him questioningly, and I believe He did orchestrate it, and in His wisdom decided that for the husband/father in such a family, one (SYNCED) hunting/golfing/fishing trip per month would be completely acceptable for a bit of male reprieve, but not twice (wife + 1 daughter) or three times (wife + 2 daughters), etc. So God synced the girls. I know that I get tetchy and impatient, so I can’t imagine my student being like that at the same time! So extra parties for homeschooling moms of daughter, you totally win.momdaughter.png

I think there should be a huge homeschooling graduation party…one where the children actually are required to wash their faces beforehand, as well as put on matching clothing entailing more than socks and underpants. That would sure be a break in routine!

And here are some sample t-shirts I designed for y’all:

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And to encourage those of us who are still in the trenches with our own thoughts about if we’re doing the right thing, doing enough, doing too much, and praying for grace, strength and willpower, the following testimonies will help. They are from moms of graduates. They are families I have watched and admired and want to grow up to be. Their answers to my questions will hopefully clarify your purpose and reasons to make good eggs. (I have not edited at all, as it’s just too good ‘from the horse’s mouth.’)

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Survived and Graduated: Homeschooling Bosses Give Their Feedback

Family 1: Children aged 26, 24, 20, 18. 

Child 1 is just finishing off her Masters degree in musical theatre. She works as a freelance performer and teacher in South Africa. Child 2 did his B.Com degree in hospitality management and has worked as anchor manager in two top hotels. Child 3 is doing an internship with a great IT company and doing so well. Child 4 is just finishing school and will then train in digital film and photography.

Best thing about homeschooling?

Lots!!!! Close relationship with your kids… being the ones they seek first in any situation. Flexibility of being able to travel as a family, with their dad on business trips, or their grandparents overseas. Being able to choose their own extra mural activities & elective subjects. No homework for the most part. Learning how to conflict resolve as a family. Goal setting and management which establishes self driven young adults.

Any challenges you faced, or things you found difficult about homeschooling? 

Dealing with a bright child with dyslexia and dyscalcula. Motivating children who are not task orientated.

Would you do anything differently?

Would have been stricter with younger two (got a bit slack.) Would not have switched curriculums.

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Family 2: Children aged 19, 16 and 13. 

Is there any particular reason why you chose to homeschool?

So their main influence during their formative years could be us as the parents and not the world. I wanted God to be a part of their everyday life.

And now??

My oldest has been accepted at a missionary flight training school. He plans to be a missionary pilot.

Best thing about homeschooling?

Being with my kids all day long. And, the flexibility to go places and do things as a family whenever we wanted. Exploring and learning as we went.

Any challenges you faced, or things you found difficult about homeschooling?

Being with my kids all day long. (Editor: LOL- that was also her best thing, did you get that?) Also, was difficult to get rid of the tendency to teach the way I was taught and instead let it be a discovery process, focus on life skills, etc.

Would you do anything differently?

Prepare better. Plan meals ahead, I’m not very good at that. I wouldn’t try to do everything in the curriculum. Spend more time enjoying the process instead of focusing on what needs to be done. Laugh more.

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Family 3: Children aged 23, 17 and 14. 

Is there any particular reason why you chose to homeschool?

My middle son was struggling in his first year of school and had progressed very little by the end of the year, despite the fact that he was in a private school in a small class of about eight children. Further to this, our daughter (the eldest) is deaf, and she needed me full time in the classroom with her as her interpreter (we lived in a country where there was no accommodation or facilities for the deaf.) So…our son needed urgent intervention for his educational needs, and I was primarily responsible for instructing my daughter for over 7 years. The obvious choice was to make the leap to homeschool them both, give them both individual attention that would benefit them the most academically and benefit our family in so many more ways than we could have imagined.

And now??

My daughter (23) has graduated from high school, received a needs-based scholarship to a private university in Minnesota where she is following her dream of becoming a dietitian. She graduates in December 2017. During her years of studying for her degree, she has been awarded Deaf Student of the Year, Student of the year, and has maintained an exceptional grade point average. This year she received an Honors award and is on the Dean’s roll for academic achievement.

Best thing about homeschooling?

The reward of deep and meaningful relationship with my children, the flexibility of being able to enjoy family time and other events when it suits us, being able to input spiritually into our children’s lives and give them a balanced understanding of the world with a biblical world view, and maintaining the God-given authority of teaching and training them in the way they should go. And certainly to be able to structure and tailor academic and other skills learning for each individual child, and seeing the results.

Any challenges you faced, or things you found difficult about homeschooling?

Yes, like all things that have value, there are extremely difficult challenges, especially with children with learning difficulties. For us the most challenging was overcoming the obstacles we faced in helping our deaf daughter to graduate, especially with her special needs. For our middle son it has been very difficult moving him to a place where he has been able to write exams, when we think back ten years to where he struggled to write a sentence. One of the biggest challenges is believing that you, the parent, have the built-in tools to overcome, to help your child through his or her difficulties and to keep pressing on towards the goal.

Would you do anything differently?

Yes, now that I look back to the frustrations with my son’s ADD and the unnecessary tears and moments when I lost my cool and despaired (and he suffered the brunt of it) I would be calmer, knowing that with dedication and firmness and proper guidance your child will make it through…the proof is in the pudding, we’ve come a long way and the stressing wasn’t helpful!

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So may this blog post be a celebration of all the successes of the good eggs gone before, and an inspiration to those of us currently scrambling their own.

May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.

Lots of love,

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