Posts filed under "home schooling"

The Hardest Part of Homeschooling...


If you are a young homeschooling family, I'm going to give you a glimpse into the real world of your future. I do not do this to be cruel or to discourage you, but to encourage you in the path you have chosen. These are the days when you must cement your mission, learn to lay it all at the foot of the Cross, and above all, discover that homeschooling success does not rest on your shoulders but on God's grace. It is also best that you learn early that homeschooling will rarely look like what you want it to be... and most importantly, that this does not mean that you have failed.

I look around me and see many little homeschool castles falling. Mothers focus on the details and all they see is their failures. We mamas like to use the word "behind" as in, "my child is behind in this or that" and the temptation to give it all up rises before us in a way that we never would have imagined in earlier days. We start to ask Who am I? And what on earth am I doing? And we allow the world to dictate what it means to be a success.

I have lived through the very common mistake of giving up my domestic church to the powerful outside forces of success and sport and social achievement. It is a potentially life-sucking machine that breaks up the family unit and slowly draws us away from sacrament, quietness, focus, and Eucharist. Too many of us sacrifice God's time on this cultural altar and we wonder why we are empty and filled with anxiety. I see families so afraid to give up the busy that they give up their homeschooling dream in order to keep pace.

I see families burdened by college debt and mothers going back to work while still trying to raise and homeschool little ones. Trying to do it all and somehow, maintain the vision... the dream... of what home education means.

I see the tears of the mamas who let that dream die when they meet the depths of their own weakness and quake in FEAR.

And I feel it and see it in a way that I have not felt before. My children grow and we have become a homeschool high school for the first time. The kids grow and my failures grow. And my kids' failures grow. This is simply the lot of mortals and we tremble before that gigantic vision of ourselves. There is nowhere I walk in this home where I do not face my limitations. It is a giant of a beast with which to do battle.

This myopic vision is hard to defend against. Yet it is deadly.

I tell you this now because, if you are not there yet, it is coming. And if you are there, I want to encourage you to hang on. Because FEAR is a poor leader. The worst of leaders. Remember when our beloved Blessed John Paul II said BE NOT AFRAID! and we hung it on banners and wrote in on our notebooks. We did not see ahead to a time when we would need to really live it. Or when we would say it and it would be drowned out in the mighty waves of anxiety.

This is rubber meets the road faith not youth group rally faith and pizza night faith. This is not for the faithless or timid or those without a clear mission. It is not for those with one foot in the door and one foot out. It is for those who intend to follow the Lord all the way to foot of the Cross.

What is the primary goal that you have for your family and how do you intend to get there? Answer that question. Write it down and burn it into your soul... and NEVER stop fighting for it. Your answer should lead you to the heart of love first. If dreams of college scholarships are appearing on your list before LOVE than you will struggle more than others when the harder years arrive.

I have a confession to make to you. I am tired of this journey. Not tired of the dream but tired of the work that is involved with the journey. And the more I take onto my own shoulders and forget to give to God, the more burdened I become. The essence of "burnout" is a turning away from mission. And that is why I am tired. Because I forget. Lent is such a blessing... a time of remembering and a returning to love. I am a pitiful figure during this season. Between this pregnancy and fatigue, I feel I have very little to offer. My greatest hope for these 40 days is to come to the lap of Divine Love and Mercy more often... to receive the grace and strength that I do not possess on my own. To open my life once again to the adventure of His choosing.

There are those of you who believe passionately that homeschooling is the dream God has for your family. To fully live out that dream, you must be willing to have the courage to face your own failures every. single. day... and to face the failures of your beautiful children. That is the biggest obstacle that you will face as a homeschooler. There are days when you will envy your neighbor's ability to pass along that struggle to the school teachers. You, my friend, will not have that luxury.

If your homeschoolers are still small, don't worry as much as you do and stop comparing. Do the work. Train them in love. Ignore the haters. And PRAY twice as often as you are inclined. Don't be fooled by the blogging mamas who post their successes... trust me, every family has struggles and crosses. They joyfully share the beauty and blessing of their homes and hold their crosses a little closer to their hearts. I haven't met a mama who doesn't cry in her closet sometimes (or the bathroom or wherever). You are not the only one.

And when you feel like giving everything up, please send me an email and I will do my very best to talk you out of it and help you rediscover the dream. Because it's not really about you at all... and when the going is toughest, it's time to look away from the mirror and remember His glory and mercy and grace. And to begin again with humility and courage.

The tough times are coming. Prepare now. Love passionately. Pray unceasingly. And try to make sure some math gets done in the meantime. Homeschooling is a beautiful way of life... but everything worth doing in God's kingdom has to pass by the way of the Cross. His ways are marvelous indeed. Don't throw any of it away out of fear. That is not what He wills for your dreams.

Thanks be to God!
Posted on February 18, 2013 and filed under "home education", "home schooling", "homeschooling".

How to Avoid Superficial Homeschooling...


From the lovely blog, Project-Based Homeschooling:
If you get hung up on the superficial, you can’t make progress on what’s deep and meaningful.
Let go of your ego about what your child’s progress/results/products look like to others. It stands in the way of true understanding.
If YOU really understand what your child is doing/what they have accomplished, you will be able to show it to others and help them understand — and hopefully it will lessen your need for their approval.
You want your child to be self-confident and be discerning about whose opinion they respect. Embody that value in your own life.
Let your children have their own ideas, recognize their own possibilities, find their own way, measure their own progress. If they don’t learn these skills now, when will they learn them?

Posted on February 4, 2013 and filed under "home education", "home schooling", "homeschooling".

7QT: First Year of Homeschool High School Update

~1~

I will start with a confession...
One of the reasons that home schooling through high school is on my mind at the present moment is that I blew "a moment" this morning. I was sick, sick, sick yesterday. All day in bed practically. One of the worst days yet. When I opened my eyes this morning I stayed stock still for several minutes, waiting to feel what was going on. Am I sick? What will today be like? 

It turns out that I'm having a good day. A well day with about 300 times as much energy as yesterday. The pitfall to that is that I spent the first couple hours of my day freaking out and trying to control everything all at once.

How does that affect a high schooled homeschooled kid? How doesn't it! Sheesh. He has an apology coming to him big time.

~2~

Now that we're more than halfway through our first year of the "big time" of homeschooling, I am starting to look back on what we've done and jump forward mentally a bit to the future. It's a schizophrenic place and the battle is to try to come back constantly to the NOW. Don't even bring up college to me... I might faint. It's one of those days. All you homeschoolers know what I'm talking about. I'm not doubting homeschooling (I am more than happy with our choice)... this is just the obligatory regularly scheduled panic attack performed by the caring, responsible party.

~3~

On a less emotional note, I have been thinking a lot about how the individual high school mission of the child in question is really beginning to emerge right now. The formation that will impact the adult vocation is in full swing. I can stunt it, feed it, or confuse it by my leadership.... but I also see that there is a fire beginning to burn brightly in spite of my limitations. My job, at this point, is not to control but to direct. I am watching something incredible unfold before my eyes. And no... I did not do it. And no, Mr. President, the government didn't do it either. It is all God's grace.

~4~

So, what is it that is emerging for my high schooler? I'm seeing a word over and over and that word is "leadership." The question that remains is what type of leadership and how can I feed that gift? It is not for me to control or design it... I need to nourish it and provide direction and tools when it is appropriate for me to do so.

Within a period of two weeks, three different leadership opportunities have presented themselves before the boy. All in areas of strength. They were all areas that he had a natural passion for, has invested in, and built a foundation for and it was like an explosion of affirmation. It left me ruminating on that word leadership quite a bit and prayerfully considering the next steps. Three different moments when someone in competent authority handed him an opportunity saying: Design it, build it, present it.

I don't think that every one of my children will share that particular charism. On the one hand, it is a bit overwhelming to see these gifts and graces revealed. On the other, I am so excited that I could sing (probably something from Les Mis). I just keep thinking...

I did not do that. That is grace. Thanks be to God. Please Lord, keep doing what you're doing. Just step around me if I'm in the way. 

Then I drop to my knees again because ya'll know... it ain't over yet. God, help us.

~5~

Homeschooling teenagers. Yes, that deserves its own massive post. For those of you who do not have teens yet, I am going to sound like every meddling old lady you've ever met and suggest that you soak in the joy of the diapers, sleeplessness, toddling, frumpy moments. I'm not saying it's not hard to mother littles. I'm just saying that it gets harder. Much. I do not want to discourage anyone... it is worth it. But don't stop praying... that's critical. Never stop. Breathe grace.

I am now in the unique situation of having babies and big guys at the same time. I am never more perfect as a mother than when I am nursing an infant. I am never more of a failure than when I am disciplining a teenager. I am sooo out of my league. I used to have a home filled with little people who were always trying to electrocute themselves or fall down stairs. Now, the concern turns to immortal souls. Yikes.

~6~

Some of you might wonder how the homeschool curriculum choices we made are working out. I wrote a little about them Here and have to say that we are loving it all. Professor is almost entirely self-directed. We do have our small *ahem* battles where I insist that he spend more time actually studying and less time pretending to study but I think that's pretty typical. On the whole, he loves the work that he's doing and he is actually learning it.

He insists that he doesn't have a favorite and it is true that he goes back and forth with his interests. The last few days he has really been digging into the book, The Constitution: A Reader and drawing me in to a lot of very interesting conversations relevant to the current Constitutional crisis surrounding the right to life and the right to keep and bear arms. I really love how the compilation includes relevant period documents, even if they challenge the Constitutional precepts. It gives the reader the opportunity to own the information and form his own mind. Highly recommended for any library.




~7~

Extracurriculars. Sometimes I really do think that these are almost more important than the academic work because I see such incredible fruits from them. His schedule is full right now:

*Altar Server
-also working on establishing an advanced server training program with Father
-studying to learn how to serve the Latin Mass just because he wants to
*Schola Cantorum
-with the parish and also a separate local group.
-please note that I'm frequently getting lectured by my child about my music choices. Apparently, I am now raising a music snob. Which I guess isn't a horrible thing.
*Pro-Life work
-just received a request to speak at an event with several national speakers and also to show his video
-working with different organizations to increase youth involvement
*Guitar and Piano
-no formal instruction other than a very nice video series. Just a high level of interest
*Sport Shooting
-really enjoys the sport and is becoming quite knowledgable
*Volleyball
-plays with family and is also discerning an opportunity to play on the local high school team
*Theology
-This is actually an academic subject but the kid asked for the Missale Romanum for Christmas and looks up Canon Law for fun. So this extends far into the "extra" category from my perspective...

...which raises the thought about how much more productive education can be when it is student led and interest led.

I won't mention video games on his Kindle (the Kindle he won last year in ALL's pro-life video contest) because he claims not to waste too much time on this. I won't comment further on that except to say that he is somewhat typical in his fascination with technology.

Joining Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday

Posted on February 1, 2013 and filed under "high school homeschool", "home education", "home schooling".