Returning to school after the New Year has been a much slower, more intentional pace than of years past. These days feel more peaceful than those surrounding past holiday seasons.
This time last year, my worn out, grief-stricken young girls recognized they needed to slow down. After prayerful discernment and at their request, we decided it was time to bring them home.
I brought them home to give them a soft place to land and moment to learn from a place of rest.
We opted to take time to exhale in the places where we’ve been holding our breath.
We had been holding our breath for quite some time with things like surgeries, illness, grief, trauma, and loss that surrounded our family.
This intentional time has built them up where they have been torn down. My kids have exhaled, grieved, rested, restored, and healed.
Trust me, though, teaching them from a place of peace has been hard and holy work. It is not for the faint of heart.
They are not off the hook for learning tough academic stuff. Ask the girls how hard their teacher makes them work… Before becoming a mom, I was a school teacher of different grades. While homeschool education can take on a different model for everyone, I took a lot of time researching the best way to incorporate meaningful and rigorous lessons/materials in their day.
I have loved every minute of the opportunity to use what I learned with my undergrad and grad degrees in the science of education in both elementary and special education. It has been a helpful resource to apply my knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy to develop and organize a curriculum to improve the learning of my girls.
I have an infinite love for learning and teaching. I am humbled that I am in a position to both teach and mother my two youngest children. The pedagogical interaction has deepened our relationship.
In some ways, it is something I wanted to do long ago but was never brave enough to take the leap. It was a slow process — one I definitely fought —to get me here even though I know I have been called to it all along.
This “un-schooling” is not about making academics easier, working less or keeping my children from the world. This is a misconception. It is about learning and living with peace at the core in a time when they need it most. It is about a family’s togetherness.
When I share with others that I am currently homeschooling my two middle school-aged girls, I get a variety of responses that often make me laugh inside. Some hold their breath and tongue, some do not. I know home education is not an option nor choice for everyone.
I know, too, it brings a certain feeling among people who come to the table with a mindset that might in some way challenge their views. I am okay with that.
I also get overwhelming gushing praise (which can be uncomfortable for this humble sort) for choosing to incorporate this option into our world. They offer that response sometimes because they really do not know what to make of it.
But the typical response I get is, “Wow, you are brave!” Or the familiar one, “I could never…” and the biggest is “Don’t you worry about their social interactions?”
And I stop to think about those questions. How could I? Am I really “brave”? And Social interactions? What does that mean, have you met my kids they are not exactly uncomfortable at being in social situations?
I have pondered this often, maybe more than I should. There is no explanation needed for what is best for our family. I share to be a steward of God’s plan in all of this. I know I am not alone in this journey of needing some peace. I know others share in this desire to teach their kids at this pace and from home. There reason may be different, but their heart is the same.
And I am certainly not the first nor will I be the last who chooses to homeschool their children and educate from this place of peace.
Is a mother brave for wanting to give her children a place to rest or learn from peace, given all the challenges they have experienced in the last decade?
Isn’t our job as a mom, like Mary’s, the gentle of all gentle mothers, to provide our children with a place of shelter, rest, and peace when the sometimes harsh world has given them something else?
If so, then I am glad I am brave and intentional enough to recognize and know this was a choice that allowed healing and restored peace to our hearts and home.
It is my job to be brave for my children and choose something even if it seems that it does not align with the standards of the rest of the world.
More importantly, it is my job to be the light and to shed light in an otherwise hard and ofttimes dark world. But I know I cannot do this alone.
More than anything, I find myself humbled and in awe that God CHOSE ME to be the mother to these four children — to be their instrument of peace. Being their mom is all part of His grand plan because He knew I would know what they needed.
While it has been challenging many a day, I am grateful for all of it —even the moments that have caused us to dig deep to build those strong and resilient foundations.
Here is a confession, it not something that causes me shame nor a need to explain. Though, I share because I know there are others out there who struggle with knowing they are doing what is right for their family, and yet they do feel shame and loneliness. I am not here to defend, I am here to support others who are looking for answers to bring peace and freedom on their difficult journeys.
When asked why I choose to homeschool when there are many other excellent school options available? Or if one asks, aren’t you concerned your kids missing out on the social experiences of school?
The answer to those questions will always be the same with confidence and conviction, “This is the best choice for my children, for our family this particular moment in time.” Such a time as this – Esther 4:14. And yes they had a say in this decision.
And when I consider it is the year 2020 (you know, perfect vision), I reflect back to three years ago. I am reminded of a time when I had to bring home another child to educate from peace.
My daughter was living most of her academic life with progressive hearing loss, hearing aids, support and accessibility (or lack thereof), unfortunate pushback, cochlear implant surgeries, and physical healing from surgery. She was also living with the trauma of the harsh reality that she was losing her ability to hear. Not only did she need to heal and train her brain to understand the implant input, but she also needed time to recover from the lack of support of the accomodations she needed. And from being treated without the dignity she deserved. So homeschool became the only option.
Today I can look back and know with confidence what I did then AND what I am doing now is the best and most rewarding gift I can offer to my children and family. We chose to slow down and change direction.
We are choosing the direction that arrives at a slow season to live in the moment.
We are in the season of recapturing joy, wonder, and remembering the truth about hope, and we are always checking the heart.
We adopted a beautiful motto in our house this past last year. I discovered this quote written in a journal dating back three years ago. I remember hearing this when my oldest was beginning to heal from all the things. I think it was fitting then and now.
These words from a well-known Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, are balm for the soul of this homeschooling momma. It is fitting we are quoting this philosopher as we are learning in a Classical Curriculum format. All of my girls are learning philosophy, which in Latin translates to “the lover of wisdom.” A fitting message for one such girl whose name means wisdom and is taking philosophy at a higher level starting next week.
Seems to me I am being pointed in the right direction.
I am also reminded of the song “Gentle Woman,” the song about Our Blessed Mother Mary. The lyrics sing of a mother of light, a peaceful dove, teaching wisdom and teaching love. I pray every day to find such gentleness in this homeschooling time. Which reminds me, this is why the words Gentle and Mother became my words of the year for 2020. More to come on this.
For today, I hold onto the words of St. Francis, the lyrics of Gentle Woman and Aristotle’s words each of them offering light, wisdom, comfort and hope and above all, peace and love.
And for now, we have found that learning from a much-needed place of peace has opened the door to things we may not have otherwise dreamed possible.
Resources for Homeschooling – Books I Have Read, People I Follow
Teaching from Rest, A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace, Sarah MacKenzie
The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah MacKenzie
Call and the Wild and Free, Ainsley Armet
Other Friends I know and Follow who inspire and speak life into Homeschooling and Homestead Living