Friday, October 15, 2010

Homeschooling My Way

I have had to re-evaluate my curriculum multiple times this year - meaning just in the last month and a half. That can be more than slightly frustrating.

I've found that homeschooling can be compared to learning about photography. The more you do it, the more insight you gain and the better your results, and yet the more questions arise. You suddenly start seeing all of the possibilities with their various outcomes and are constantly questioning if you're making the right choice. If I use this curriculum, they will get a great education, but will it be as fun as this other one? Or will it even be as rich as that one? Will they be introduced to enough classic literature, allowed to be creative, or enabled to self-explore their curiosity adequately? It is known that a child who is allowed freedom to explore will learn to love learning and will be far more successful in their education than those who are told to sit still and listen to rote.

Along with the options of curriculum, I am constantly readjusting to my child's capability at that time. What is their attention span? What are their interests? How can I make required subjects interesting if that doesn't naturally fall into their realm of fascination? I have tried the route of "You will sit down and learn this because that's what you'd have to do in school", only to be met with eyes and an attitude that explicitly tell me they consider that time with me miserable torture. It is an expression that reminds me so well of my own time spent in public school, and not of the reasons I so willingly embraced the decision to homeschool. I can do better than making our every day a power struggle. I can make it fun, and interesting, and something we all want to engage in. And I can do it without going insane.

That last denominator being said, I must also realize how much energy it takes to teach my children in this way. It is a matter of shifts and balances, constantly. You can have a plan, but you better be flexible. And realize what a full-time job it is.

Yesterday morning we awoke, I thought of my curriculum plan for the day, mentally tossed it in the trash can and said "Let's go to the zoo!". Met with excited happy faces, we hopped in the car and drove to Chattanooga Zoo. They played their Leapsters all the way up (which do actually have educational value). Through the zoo we read where every animal came from, discussing the continents and the animals' eating habits. We then went for lunch at a mall, which was a new experience for them since the youngest could only ever recall having been in a mall once. Following that, we went to McKay's Used Book Store where they both sat and read books for over an hour while I searched for books on my list for an upcoming school project on Caldecott Medal winners. After that we travelled home, having found several used Leapster games at McKay's and they continued math and language arts practice using those. It was an amazingly fun day filled with wonderful memories, perfect weather, and good, quality education. And the best part was, they had no idea that we were "doing school" at all. :)

Photograph: My Girls

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's in Your Yard?

Recently I have realized (for the 50th time) that my plate is too full. This time is different, however. I have gotten to the root of why I keep over-filling my plate. In an effort to gain approval and acceptance, I so often take on jobs that are asked of me, or even just offered. There has been a great empty space in me that I keep attempting to fill. A chasm of inadequacy, a continual desire to be told I am worthy of breathing air on this planet.

Most of my relationships, I realize now, have been based on this emptiness. I have used friends and family constantly to make me feel valuable, and I am always open to a serious decline in value should I not receive a quantifying response. I have used other people as a measuring stick of my worth.

Recently I have reassessed my gauges. I have reorganized my yard and begun to set clear boundaries as to what I allow to affect that yard. I am building stronger fences in between those relationships which leave me the most vulnerable, and in the process, I am able to more clearly see the beauty of what God has given me to care for. He created a garden just for me to tend and I am learning to not allow my energies to be drained by others, whether by their doing or my own. For that only leaves me with an empty cup at the end of the day from which to pull my resources.

Any projects that I take on should be done joyfully out of an abundance of wholeness, rather than an attempt to fill an emptiness. I am learning to open up these dark, empty spaces in myself so that the Spirit may enter and work me toward fullness. He is the only way to a whole and healthy place, the only truth and the only life.
Photograph: The Boathouse

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wholeness, not Hole-ness

In the bible it states on several occasions that God will punish those who turn away from him to the 3rd and 4th generations. I have wondered, in the past, how this was fair.

I now believe that God may have been saying that if we turn away from him, we will consequently punish our children for several generations to come. Take for example, a man who turns to drink, beats his wife and abuses his daughter. This daughter then seeks destructive relationships as she matures, constantly seeking approval from father-like figures. Her son, grows up in insecure environments with no good example for relationships turns to drugs as a means of escapism from the pain he cannot describe, let alone talk about. Sounds like something purely for Geraldo? Hardly. While these extremes may not be the norm, more subtle variations exist in almost every family, and the progression can only be halted by the one invariable truth. And that is in discovering who we are in Christ Jesus. When we are able to deeply and fully understand what we are to God, in spite of what we were to our parents, that is when true healing and wholeness take place. It may seem like a slow process, but when you become obedient to God, following the teachings of Jesus, following his counsel, something amazing happens. You come to a point when you can let go of the choking entanglement of untruths that held you away from God, that led you to believe you are worthless. When you can ignore the calls of humans declaring what must be done to be better, live successfully, find happiness, and follow the Word, you suddenly begin to understand scripture. You know in your very soul what it means to declare that the Truth has set you free.

There is nothing I can say to explain this fully. It is faith, pure and simple. You can't ask for proof to believe it. You have to begin with believing it, and then the proof begins to be small step at a time.

Photograph: Innocence