Letting Go!

This has been a post in the makings of my mind for over a month now. It’s amazing that no matter how many times you sit in front of the screen, something that is so dear to your heart just won’t come to words, so the screen has been blank but my mind full. Today I am attempting again, feeling inspired and renewed.

Childhood…This period of time that only spans for a few short years in lieu of a lifetime. A series of years filled with awe and wonder, growth and curiosity, hope and trust. Childhood…What do you remember about it? Your friends, the games you played, the toys you had, the adventures you had (even if they were only in your imagination).

This topic of childhood has fascinated me since we started schooling our boys last year. I have moments where I feel an overwhelming guilt for the things their going to miss out on. I crave to pack lunches and write notes on napkins. I long for them to be able to dig deep into the depths of their memories as adults and walk back through the school in their minds and remember how big everything seemed. I ache for them to have that one teacher who made all the difference in their education. It may seem silly but these things, though they were insignificant as a child, seem real and important to me now as a mom. Are my kids missing out?

The age-old question every parent wrestles with, whether homeschooler, public or private schooler, we each have our questions and doubts about what is best for our children. What will they experience? Some say homeschoolers are sheltered and unsocial. I am realizing how untrue this statement is. My children are getting some similar opportunities as those who go away. And though I may not be packing lunches everyday, hearing the horrible jokes that another student taught them, or even going to parent teacher conferences; I am going to be that one teacher that changes who they are.

Today, we embarked on a new step in this parenting and childhood area. (This year we joined a homeschool group.) My boys, went away with other mothers and students on a field trip (4 to be precise). And though they aren’t back yet. I am feeling my heartstrings pang. Pang with excitement, nervousness, praise, fear, hope, and more. I rest in knowing they are in good hands with friends they have grown to enjoy. I am nervous not knowing how they will behave away from me. But this is all a part of parenting. I need to give them wings to fly. Yes it may only be a field trip, today, but tomorrow it may be something bigger, more daring, are we ready for it? Today will show if we can give a little more freedom to grow, or if we need to do more training before we try again. And you know what. I got to pack lunches, draw cool pictures on their bags, write on their napkins, and my husband got to make them apple puzzles. Who needs a formal school setting to have similar experiences? We need to be open and alert to those opportunities before us. Each new day offers us choices. Will we see them?

So today, I relinquish my hearts longings for my kids to experience similar things as I did and I rest in knowing that God has their story planned out and it is far more amazing than I could ever imagine.

Oh to be a child again.

“Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke 18:16-17 NASB

School of Life

The school of life…..Where is it taking you? What have you learned? What are you going to learn? Who is your teacher? Who are your peers? Are you late? Are you always on time? Are you organized? Do you procrastinate? How did you do on that test? Are you failing? Are you an honor student? Do you have a diploma? Do you have a Bachelor’s degree? Or are you going for a Master’s or Doctorate? Are you popular? Are you a bully? Are you the head of the class? Are you forgotten?

The school of life….

Quite the complex schooling. You are always learning, always growing, failing and passing, you will always be known and not known, you will either make time or loss it, you will always aim for higher achievements, but what is the ending?

God orchestrated the school of life for His honor and glory. Am I in the classes I thought I would be in? Absolutely not…but my Principal knows best and has placed me where He wants me and where He knows I will succeed, even if it is through some failures. God is in control. So what do we do with our school record up until now? God has signed off on it with His son’s death on the cross. Christ’s blood has covered that which I have done and continues to cover each step from the time I met Him and allowed Him to be the Master of my school.

It never ceases to amaze me, His hand in everything, His perfect will in everything, His plan in everything. And though we don’t see all the answers or all He has protected us from, He chooses to reveal Himself in ways that are completely undeniable.

As I continue on this journey of schooling my children at home, I am given daily, an insight into how God must view us. Picture your life as a student under God’s guiding hand and direction. Are you willing to be corrected? Are you willing to try your hardest, even if it seems to hard? Are you will to push through the no so fun to get to the fun? Are you willing to listen? Are you willing to change? Are you willing to learn from your mistakes? I deal with this each day with my children. They want to quit when the work seems too hard. How often do I do that to God? They don’t always accept correction. Am I doing the same thing to my Teacher? The boring work is handled carelessly but the fun work is taken with diligence. Do I do that? Do I only want to do the glorious things God has for me or am I diligent in the monotony of life as well as the excitement of life? They quit when they are so close to finishing. Do I do the same?

Maybe it wasn’t my idea to homeschool. Maybe God saw I needed to learn just as much as my children did. Am I willing to learn what He has to teach me? Am I willing to be corrected and redirected? May my focus continue to be challenged, shaped and changed by my Teacher, as my children are by me. And ultimately may they find the peace, joy, and challenge of having Him as their Teacher as well.

I am not perfect but God continues to teach me that He is the ultimate authority in my school of life and with Him in control I have nothing to fear and I can rest in the fact the He knows what is best for me in the end.

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First Day of First Grade

And just like that my 2 oldest have begun first grade. This year we were blessed to have daddy home to start the school year off. I was able to finish getting everything the way I want it for the coming year, and spend some “school” time with my third born who says she wants to do school but isn’t quite ready for it.

This year we opened with a fun letter for each child. Our boys got the same letter.Image

If it doesn’t make sense here is how it read:

“Dear T or J–

Welcome to your first day of first grade! We hope you will start this year off without being a (crybaby). May this year be a (ball) as you learn to be (painterz) and (smarties). Hopefully through the year you will go on a learning (spree) without any (warheads). You need to know that school (rocks) and you will become a (nerd) either (now or later). Love dad and mom.”

Our daughter’s read slightly different because she isn’t doing school quite yet. I will focus on helping her achieve a teachable spirit. Strongwilledness runs strong in this house and I want her to look forward to learning and starting kindergarten verses the battle that I know it can become with a strong-willed child.

First Day of School (5)a

Her’s read,

“Dear C—

We know you are not starting school this year but we are expecting you to grow and continue learning. We will need your help to keep T— from going on a destruction (spree). We also hope that you learn to like learning without being a (crybaby) or a (warhead). You need to learn that school (rocks) and that it will make you a (smartie) and a (nerd). love dad and mom.”

With all that-a new school year is a challenge. My baby no longer takes morning naps and loves to be around people and her sister really can only tolerate playing with her for so long. It also presents me with having to learn a new format of teaching and topics and styles. This is difficult for my type A, very structured, liking predictability, personality. To say we are off to a smooth start would be optimistic. I think the start off school and the end of school go fairly rough. We come off of being able to go outside and play all the time in the beginning and at the end we are antsy to spend more time doing the things we want to. I am also starting this school year off without my helper. This means I really need to regroup and find time managing skills. So with that this is the beginning of a new year and we are hoping that we can find our niche like last year and get to enjoying our new routine and schedule. Prayers for continuing on this journey are appreciated.

Math and School and Life

For anyone who knows me, you know I HATE math. I barely passed it in high school, as well as in college. I am just not geared for it. I thrived when it was made practical and integrated into my ag. classes in high school, making feed rations and calculating weights and body mass and how much meat we would get dressed and undressed. That I could handle but aside from all that, I really struggle. There are times I call my husband at work to help me double or triple a recipe. I really am that bad.

With all that said I got to thinking about my children and school and life in general the other day. Really I think about these things often being a stay at home and homeschool mom, but these thoughts went somewhere they don’t usually. I sat down with my husband and we crunched some numbers, and I was left mind-blown after the conversation. It still sits in the back of my mind the greatness and sadness behind this.

Let me share with you my thoughts and feel free to correct my math or my conclusions, but this is what has been on my heart and my mind and I want to share it.

We send our children to school for 5, 6 hour days. That is 30 hours in a week. In PA they are required to have 180 days in, so 180 days times 30 hours, is 5400 hours in a year spent at school. Children spend 12 years in school so 5400 hours times 12 years equals 64,800 hours a child spends in school. That’s a whole lot of hours, so lets break down some more. 64,800 hours divided by 24 hours (in a day), is 2700 days. Then take the 2700 days and divide that by 365 days (in a year), and you have 7.397 years of a child’s life spent outside of home in the school system.

Almost 7 and a half years away from our influence. If our children are only in our homes until they are eighteen that means almost half of their time in our homes under our guidance and supervision is spent being influenced by the outside world. Their world view and social ideas are being shaped by others than us, their parents.

These numbers are a reflection of the bare necessities of schooling. No  extra curricular activities, no programs, just to school and back again.

With being on the doorstep of starting a new school year. Most of our friends kids have already started, we plan to start Monday, Philly schools start the 9th of September. My world seems to have taken on a new perspective. We were recently asked why we decided to homeschool, as part of joining a homeschool group to provide broader opportunities for our children to thrive and learn. I have to admit that our answer was shallow and weak but it was the truth. We wanted our children to have a Christian education but private school is super expensive and public school was not an option, so for financial reasons we decided to try homeschooling. The other half of our answer was a reference a friend of ours shared…they told us, “they couldn’t imagine knowing their kids any less.” That was a powerful statement. And has really helped us make certain decisions regarding our homeschooling efforts.

*side note* I am not bashing anyone who chooses to send their children to public or private school. I know homeschooling is not for everyone, I went to public school, hubby to went to Christian school, so there is no judging or condemning. 🙂

When we got home from that meeting I felt a might bit discouraged, wondering if we made the wrong choice, are we homeschooling for all the wrong reasons? Then I stumbled across this illustration on Pinterest.

Child Time Charta

This chart is what got me thinking about how much time we invest into our children’s lives. With my oldest getting ready to turn seven I find myself blown away by the idea that our impact on his life is almost half gone. It is my prayer that the time we have with him is used to the best of our abilities. Guided by our knowledge of the bible and rooted in God’s truth.

So did we start homeschooling for the right reasons, probably not, but rest assured our desire is to raise well educated, well rounded, God-fearing, free thinking, inquisitive, intelligent, loving, caring, (and much more) children. And thus we feel we are starting this school year out with the right motives and ambitions.

When I crunched those numbers I was almost made numb by the sadness of what some parents and children are missing out on because of schooling. Some countries it is illegal to homeschool, in some places it’s not an option. Again it doesn’t matter what you choose for your children, the point I want to drive home is how is that time spent? What we do with the other half of those 18 years we have with the children is very important. Are we teaching them God’s word when they are home? Are we sharing our spiritual growth with them? Are we praying together? Are we interested in what interests them? Are we singing the same songs? Are we working side by side on projects and housework? Are we loving, correcting, training, rebuking, crying, and exploring together? As cliché as it is, we only have these children in our lives for a short period of time, and that time flies by.

Seven and a half years isn’t that long at all, yet it is a big chunk of time. Remember I said we will soon have a seven year old. Has it really been that long? But we have been through a lot in those seven years. May God guide all of us as we struggle, grow, learn and walk through these years of schooling with our children.