I spoke to a long time homeschooling friend last night. For years our kids were in the same co-op, taking classes together, playing with one another. She and I taught many hours of lessons, enjoyed the camaraderie of discussions with other homeschooling mothers and, in general, strengthened our resolves through it all. I look back fondly at the days that seemed to stretch before us, our little children playing in the trees or with stick 'swords' as we spent long afternoons chatting and comparing educational methods.
Life has changed us both in many ways and raising young adults has kept us so busy, we don't see each other very often. When we get to visit, we fall right back into our great discussions and in talking about our upcoming school year, we both realized that we still have so much in common.
We've graduated children and have a sense of accomplishment in the fact that they've successfully made that transition into adulthood. We both have highschoolers who have opted to take classes at the local public school. (Which, I might add, feels like such a derailment from everything you believe as a homeschooler the first time you even contemplate such a thing!)
We both have plenty of younger children still in the wings at home and lots of teaching/mentoring still ahead.
And....we're both tired.
Not just because home education requires quite a lot of vision and energy, but because so many other things in life want to sap that energy!
I've had to re- ponder and pray about what I believe in as far as education goes.
As I enrolled my son in high school classes for the first time, and stepped into a public school, it felt surreal. Schools, to me, are their own microcosm and unlike anything I can relate to in real life. It has always bothered me that parents I talk to feel at times that the schools practically own their children. This, I think, is more rampant in the elementary years. From what I've seen, in high school, the kids' choices are more respected.
I'm not against public schools. I actually don't think there is a perfect system for education and that every parent must carefully choose what's best for their own family. My biggest reason for homeschooling has always been to instill values and morals and to protect childhood innocence as long as possible.
My decision to allow him to take classes was based, foremost, on the fact that our small school district has caring teachers for the most part- who know their students well, and that the majority of students are really good kids from strong families. The kids don't get away with much before parents hear and, for the most part, do something about it.
In any case, I know that:
I still I have strong opinions about family and parental influence being far and above any institution.
I believe that God entrusted these children to my husband and I, knowing our imperfections, knowing that by and large we would step up and become better people, better examples because we had the responsibility to teach them well. No one else on earth cares more about their upbringing than we do.
I believe that no matter where or how children are educated, the responsibility for it rests on the parents. Until children are mature enough to be handed over that responsibility, parents need to counsel with them, oversee and carefully choose wisely what will benefit each child most.
I believe that having some time to ponder and think and even get bored is more important than having every hour of the day structured in activities.
I believe that service and work and being out in nature are equally as important as book studies.
After pondering what rings true to me at this stage of life and learning, I had to look at why I'm so tired and how to avoid that constant feeling of slight or severe burn-out.
You'd think that after homeschooling for 15 years and graduating two young adults, I'd have gained great confidence in myself and my abilities. But you see, I've been plagued with self-doubt for so many years, I'd constantly question and tear down my own confidence.
I can see clearly the pattern of doubting myself, then getting discouraged, becoming unfocused as the weight of responsibility began to seem too great, and then lacking diligence in following through with a perfectly good plan. My children began to see my wavering and lack of confidence and it started to lead to a disbelief in the goodness of home education. A belief I have felt strongly about for many years.
I have prayed much over my educational choices for these precious kids of mine- and many times I've felt deep inspiration that family-based education was best for us. So how could I possibly begin to doubt?
From Kevin D. Pearson's talk:
"We get what we focus on consistently. Because there is an opposition in all things, there are forces that erode our faith. Some are the result of Satan’s direct influence. But for others, we have no one but ourselves to blame. These stem from personal tendencies, attitudes, and habits we can learn to change."
I can see clearly that my own tendencies brought the majority of this upon myself. My own habits, along with discouragement and I began to doubt even the answers I had prayed for and received!
Answers received through prayer should not be doubted. Circumstances can change and new inspiration can come, but I should never have allowed doubt to creep in, leading to the other 5 'Ds' of discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief.
When I am striving to do my best in raising and choosing good for my family, I can follow these scriptures and know how to choose wisely:
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God......
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
If I receive inspiration and feelings of peace and light around my choices, then I cannot doubt. Doubt, discouragement and lack of diligence (inactivity) are the antithesis of faith, hope and diligence....the very things upon which families are built!
I know this- and have known this. For some reason, it has taken until now to really grasp it in this area of my life. I'm so grateful for the power of this lesson learned and to begin a new school year protected from that horrible plague of 'Ds.'