St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Saturday, June 29, 2013

In the trenches of homeschooling, prayer and priorities

There are times in my life where I can see God is allowing me opportunities to fall on my knees before him.  When things get very difficult, complex; there are many stress-filled moments throughout daily life, raising younger and older children both, planning out the daily routine, attempting to keep friendships afloat and stay somewhat connected with family and friends.  Add in the dimension of home education, and well…you have yet another life going on, one that includes added responsibilities, and anxiousness that is different, as you become the facilitator of formation, the educator of your children. 

If I have learned anything the last eighteen years of homeschooling through high school, it’s that you have to let go, and let God, many, many times a day.

While I do try within my limitations to stay connected to countless others, I have also learned that I have to let go, for the benefit of my children’s educations. There is only so much running around you can do.  So you must choose wisely and selectively.

I am grateful I have the most understanding family (and mother, and mother-in-law, R.I.P particularly), who supported our home schooling thoroughly, understanding that we couldn’t always be in the midst of extended family activities and didn’t pressure us or make us feel badly because our home schooling took priority.   This is where I knew in my heart and soul that my immediate responsibility lay in my own children and that time with them was fleeting.  The days spent elsewhere, and not in the home with actually “teaching” my children, would only produce deficiency. 

   Step in: the almighty word, NO.

    One year, many years ago, my husband told me to “go into the bathroom and look In the mirror and watch your lips say the word NO and practice that over and over……”   gotta love the directness :)

Also, years ago as I began my home schooling a wise older mom who had eight children of her own, all home educated, told me….”put your OWN family first…, your own children…live your life at home with and for them….not for anyone else no matter how tempting it may be…, you will not regret it, because time will slip away quickly, and home schooling takes the priority. You will regret the time you didn’t spend with them, schooling them.”

This also reminds me of a very memorable letter I received from Laura Berquist [1] many years ago, before email became the standard form of communication ~ where she explains her use of particular curriculum choices, (namely some Abeka resources), and the one thing that stood out in my mind so brightly was this, (and I quote from the letter):

    “It seems to me as a home schooling mother my first consideration has to be the quality of the materials themselves, and my first obligation is to provide the best materials possible for my children.” 

  her emphasis was on first obligation….and it’s to her children, as you well see…

Family and friends don’t always support us in our home schooling and that is a sad but real fact.  Next, if they do support us, in may likely be in a cursory manner…like “that’s wonderful you home school,”  they may not actually support us fully, respect our home schooling enough to let us remain at home, home schooling.  They will insist and probe and prod us to go with them here and there….do things that may be interfering with our actual time at home weekly or monthly.  This can cause such inconsistency in our children’s educations. This is where learning to say NO is helpful, but knowing you might make hard feelings, is an area where you have to believe thoroughly your first obligation are your own children, and then let go and let God..turning to him deeply in prayer for yourself, your children and those around you.

Home schooling is flexible, but this doesn’t mean expendable.  It means that while you are honoring your part of the deal with both the state regulations and your lifestyle commitment to home educating your children (and your state assumes you are truly doing that), you have some lovely choices and perks available to you with home education.  These are the dividends, and should be looked at as the joys or rewards of home schooling….the paycheck, but not the paycheck before the work is put in. 

I know I do not want to be the parent who’s son or daughter says to me later, why in the heck did you do that – home school us??  So, to remedy this from ever happening…..I really, really home school them, putting them first, teaching them as is grade level appropriate, interacting with them, helping to make home schooling engaging daily, to every last detail.  You’ve heard the quote: “God is in the details…”….this could not ring truer in regard to educating your own children.  Another quote I admire and think about is:

“Its the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden.

Every little step, every 5 mins with your child, forming them, using method, interaction, instruction….is the recipe to the bigger things.

Be sure to take inventory of your time and spend it well.  If those fifteen minutes talking on the phone to someone, or playing at the computer could have really be spent doing Johnny’s religion lesson, or grammar retelling, going over the concept in science…’s a valuable little increment of time that your child deserves, first.

Try hard not to get caught up in the secular world’s definition of parenting, the chronic permissiveness, the dating games; know that your family is standing apart as a Christian message to others.  Raising your children and educating them is first and foremost your duty.  Secular values will interfere with that mission; dating and encouraging young relationships that are exclusive will distract your teens terribly, to the point of their school work suffering.  First things first, if you would like success and see them graduate from their home school and do well in college.

And pray … a lot.  A novena that has really helped me in so many ways personally with difficulties, and my family in general is this very lovely one I will post at the end.

God bless you in your commitment and mission of raising and educating your own children.

Hail Holy Queen Memorare,Hail Mary – Annunciation Novena

Pray for three things, and watch the miracles happen

1 comment:

Kim said...

Oh, how this post resonates with me. Thank you so much ... so much to ponder and take to prayer.