If you missed Part One, you can read it here.
Once we made the decision to homeschool, I felt free. Free to enjoy my kids. Free to spend time with my husband without worrying if I'd get all my papers graded for school. I finished the school year at our Christian school with a sense of hope instead of dread.
When I told my principal that I wouldn't be returning in the fall, he was completely supportive. He knew how much I had physically struggled that year, and he told me that he and his wife had spent a lot of time in prayer for me. I guess I looked pretty rundown (read "haggard" here)!
Not all of my colleagues were as supportive, though. I was warned not to let my children turn weird because they wouldn't be around other children all day long. As if there was ever the possibility that my kids wouldn't be weird! Have you met me and my husband? The children are doomed to weirdness no matter where they go to school! LOL! And I embrace their quirkiness. It's who they are.
There were some attempts at guilt trips by others because I was "quitting" the ministry, too. I had people tell me that I needed to rely more on God's strength instead of my own, that I shouldn't walk away from the school. My stock reply was that God had called me to teach my children, so those questioning my decision needed to talk to Him about it.
Our families backed us up 100%. My mom had taught kindergarten for over twenty years, so she was a valuable resource to me that first year. My brother and his wife decided to homeschool their 3 oldest children, too, so we were each other's cheerleaders.
I dove into preparations that summer. Charles trusted me to choose our curriculum and methods, and I was and still am deeply honored by his trust. I was determined to be the best homeschooling mom EVER! Ha ha! What lofty goals I had. I followed the lesson plans set forth by our curriculum rigidly. Each worksheet was filled out, every t was crossed.
That approach worked great for Mr. Lego. He loved everything about it. Of course, he's the child who sits down to read an encyclopedia for fun and can tell you exactly what he read. But I learned very, very quickly that the Princess wasn't a worksheet gal. She was (and still is) a visual and hands-on learner. She wanted to know why she had to learn something so she could decide if it was worth the effort.
I was forced to re-evaluate everything that first year, courtesy of the Princess. I took a more relaxed approach the following year, combining subjects and spending more time with hands-on learning like lapbooks and unit studies. I really loved seeing the light bulb come on in my darling daughter's head. Mr. Lego blossomed, too. He still liked his structure, but his creativity expanded. He asked me if school should be this fun! Ha ha!
Now we're getting ready to begin our fourth year. I can't believe how the time has flown! I'm so very, very thankful that I've been able to spend that time with my family. My husband eats lunch with us every day if he's not traveling for work. How many dads get that opportunity? Or moms, for that matter?
One of the greatest blessings of this journey has been getting to know my children. I am with them all the time, so I know what they know. We don't take a lot of tests, because I can evaluate their progress in other ways. More important than the academics, though, I know their hearts. They talk to me about anything and everything. I love our closeness! They are learning the value of working together as a family, and while they still engage in brotherly/sisterly disagreements, they have developed real love and friendship for each other. They might not admit it, though!
I'm by no means an expert on homeschooling but I have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Number one, I don't compare my children with others. They will learn and grow at their own pace. I will guide them and help them, but they're unique individuals created by God and I don't want them to be exactly like everyone else. Number two, I've learned that most parents - homeschoolers, Christian schoolers, public schoolers - want what is best for their kids. I'm not better than anyone because I homeschool. Homeschool parents who think and act that way annoy the fire out of me. Each family's choice is between them and God, not them and me.
We're just doing what we know is right and best for our family. And I'm so, so glad that God chose homeschooling for this family. I never pictured myself as a homeschool mom, but praise God, He did!
I should add that since we started homeschooling, three other families in our church have joined us. We now have our own little support group! Isn't God so good?