100 Days Smarter. Maybe.

Thursday was our 100th day of surviving school.
That's kind of a big deal in my book.

I'd like to think that we are all 100 days smarter....but, you never know.  I'm honestly not entirely sure.  Last week, around Wednesday, some sort of funk swept down into our home and took this Mama o.u.t.  My tonsils swelled up the size of marbles, one eye was swollen and perpetually weeping, and all I could eat, think, or breathe was my bed.  Oh man.  That was the only thing that I wanted.  So, I was just a wee bit hepped up on drugs on our 100th day...I'm not too sure of all that went down that day... but we had fun.  I think.

 This whole homeschooling journey has been..well, exactly that - a journey - for me, I guess.  I know I've written about this before, but there was a time, way back in the day, where I was absolutely certain that I would never ever, under no uncertain terms, homeschool my children.  It just wasn't in the cards for me, and it surely was not even an option.  Besides, I was a teacher at a lovely local parent-run Christian school, one in which I was absolutely in love with, so our decision was a no-brainer for both Kevin and I.  We barely even discussed it.

But, God has His own part that He plays in our lives...and we have to be willing to be written into His-story the way that He sees fit.  And I can clear as day remember the year before we were going to send Kaden to school - just having this sense of dread in my gut that I was supposed to rethink my plans that I had so clearly set in stone for my family.  And God was relentless.  I remember that I just. couldn't. shake. it.
Finding 100 kisses and matching the numbers taped on bottom to the numbers on the chart.
So, an entire year before Kaden was to become a Kindergartener, I asked one of my good friends - who was a homeschooling Mama, and who I considered very normal, and who's children are an absolute delight... if I could tag along to her little homeschool Mama's group that she hosted at her home once a month.

I needed to do re-con.
I needed to watch and listen and study and see for myself what this breed of people was like.
Rolling a dice and counting until we reached 100.
And if I even got a whiff of competition, or of any ping-ponging of bragging at whatever level of awesomeness each person's kids was at, or of comparing the superiority of one person's chosen curriculum to another, than I was running.  Fast and furious.  I was too fragile for any of that.  I still felt like I was a baby in my mothering - let alone in my decision to school my kids.  And there was nothing of the sort in this sweet group.  There was humility.  And vulnerability.  And a mutual care and concern for each other - no matter each family's reason for homeschooling their kids.

I can remember talking with Kev about it - testing the waters with him - and trying to figure out why in God's name I had this bee in my bonnet that I just couldn't shake.  And instead of him talking some sense into me and saying:  "Are you crazy?  Of course they're going to school!"  He said all cool and collected:  "Well, if you're really struggling with this...why don't you just try it.  It's only Kindergarten.  You can't ruin him in Kindergarten."  To which I replied far less coolly and collected-ly:  "Are you KIDDING ME?  Kindergarten is the foundation for the rest of his little LIFE!  What if he never learns to read?!  There will be no-one to blame but me!!!"
Building a tower with 100 mini marshmallows
But, I just knew that this was something the Lord was asking me to do, and we were in a season of life where Kev traveled a lot, so we were able to either go right along with him and do our school along the way or kick it up north to my Ma's house and do school around her kitchen table for the week that Daddy was gone.  It suited our lifestyle back then.  And I found that we all actually kind of loved it.

And so here we are, four years later.  Whoda' thunk it?  Surely not me, that is fo sho.
And we still say that we are taking it year by year and child by child.  I don't know what the future holds for us, and I don't know how long we'll do it.  One thing I do know, is that God is oh so slowly teaching me to never say never.

This I am learning.
My masterpiece.
And I am also learning to show myself grace and to embrace the beauty of this gift that is me being the teacher and me being the one to call the shots of the day.  I am a rigid, goal setter by nature.  I like things done nicely and in order, and by days' end I like each and every thing checked off my little list.  I like going exactly by the curriculum and knowing that I have done everything the author has said my child needs to do in that day.  But... in my heart, I really want to be a hippy un-schooler.  I love the idea of the kids learning what they love and being able to direct plans according to their interests and not just according to the already pre-packaged scheduling of the curriculum.  And I am a firm believer that ALL of life is learning - not just the few hours that we set aside each day for "school."  I also believe strongly in play being the true "work" of childhood, and in giving them plenty of time to just "be" - not in front of the t.v. or video games - but outside, and creating, and building, imagining, reading, dreaming, or whatever...
Counting out 100 snacks.
So, there is this perpetual war within me.
And I have two little boys who learn vastly differently from each other.
But, we are learning and we are growing together.
And then trading them in for other favorites.
Kaden is just now really starting to love reading, so if his nose is in a book first thing in the morning, I let it stay there until he's ready to come back to our world.  I see the value in this, and I think it's good.  Even at the expense of something else that maybe should have gotten done during that time.  He loves, loves, loves to hunt, so these past few days I have thrown our science curriculum out the window and I've let him skin his squirrel hides and experiment with several different ways to tan his hides.  He is much more into it, because it's something he loves, and I am learning to take deep breathes when things don't get "checked off" in a day.
I bleached the sink afterwards.  No worries.
Things of value still took place.
Learning still "happened."

Jesse cannot sit still to save his soul, and the poor boy has the attention span of a gnat.  So, we are working on this.  But, I am also changing my expectations of him, and I am tailoring his school day to suit his little personality better.  I let him read to me while standing up, or while hopping from one foot to the other.  It literally makes me crazy in my brain, but he says he can focus better if he's moving, so we roll with it.  We do one or two pages of math or whatever, and then I let him go and play toys for a bit.  If I am reading him a book that has no pictures, I let him play legos and I lay on the floor beside him.  After every couple of pages, I ask him questions to make sure he's listening...and he does better this way...SO much better than if I made him sit up straight at the table like I want him to do.

I think that Mamas all the world around ask ourselves daily if we are "doing" enough, or if we are "being" enough....if our kids measure up enough, or if they are where they are supposed to be.  And I think like everything else, God's grace is sufficient.  Our kids are unique.  Our families are unique.  All of our choices are personal and intimate and a part of each one of our journey's with Jesus.  There is no doubt in my mind that my kids could probably get a better education from a better teacher in a more structured learning environment.  There is no doubt in my mind that while my kids might be a bit advanced in some areas of their life and learning....it is undoubtedly certain that there are others who far surpass them in other areas.  I am certain that we could be doing more, we could be involved in more, I could be pushing them farther, and they could be better, better, better....

It doesn't matter.
I know that, for now, this is what I am supposed to be doing.  So this is enough.
And comparison is the thief of contentment.

We do our very best.  We pour our hearts and our souls into these kids that are only ours on loan in the first place.  We seek God's face.  We honor what He asks of us.  We encourage our kids. We focus on character and not just curriculum.  We try to teach life lessons and not just academics.  We try to "cease striving" and just be.....at His feet...asking for His help, and His grace.  His strength, and His wisdom.

And He sees it.  He remembers we're just dust.  And He honors us in return.

Maybe we are just a tiny bit smarter....

1 comment:

Lisa Winters said...

I love this!!