A Visitor in the Classroom

I do not come from a homeschooling family. In fact when I decided to do it I got a few “Are you really going to do that?” and “Well, you won’t do it forever will you?” I believe the more family know, the more they see that it is a reasonable decision. (well, at least that’s what I tell myself). So I know that the unknown was uneasy to some. And the idea seemed ludicrous at times. But I stood confident in knowing that these were MY kids and ultimately OUR decision. And each day I see them achieve, learn, and rise above I am confirmed in that decision. As each year passes I learn to dismiss those comments that disagree based on their lack of knowledge, and continue to press on.

However, there are days when my mother comes to visit and she is sitting in my living room the entire time my kids act up, run around crazy, refuse to listen, and I begin pulling my hair out in the middle of a math lesson. I try with all my might to teach simple predicates (on no sleep, mind you) while trying to calm a screaming toddler, while jostling a sleepy baby, all while being very self conscious about my mother watching it all. What is she thinking? Is she questioning my decision? Is she wondering if my kids ever learn anything? Is she concerned for my health? Does she sit wondering if this is how every day goes (which it doesn’t… but so far this year, every Friday is the same scenario). These days are the days where I stress myself out with the worry of what THEY think.

My mother does not judge my parenting. She sees my kids as they are… kids. She knows they are smart. She knows how it is to parent 4 children. My stress and self-conscious behavior is not HER fault. She has never accused me of being a poor parent, A lousy teacher, or a horrible disciplinarian. She may wonder how any work gets done in a home full of such chaos, but she’s not judging my methods. (at least I am almost 100% sure she’s not!) But still I sit there and pray that the kids would be perfect, that they will have all the right answers. That the younger babies will behave so I can show off my master teaching skills. I secretly want my mother to sit back and think, “WOW! She is the BEST mother EVER! She is so patient, and creative, and her kids are the best students I’ve ever seen!” But instead she sees me throw a stuffed dog across the room in frustration. She sees my kids goof off, scream, and misunderstand every word I say. She sees us skip art and social studies because well, I was just too tired to do it. And I finish thinking, “I’m pretty sure if my mother did not approve of homeschooling before now… ”

So, today as I finish up my weekly progress reports, I see that my kids are right on track. They are learning all that we have covered. They play catch up better than anyone I know! I make notes on the previous week, what works and doesn’t work. How we may need to tweak the schedule, and how I feel I did as a teacher. And as I finish up, I pray over my newly set goals and I realize that those goals are not to please my family. They do not need to be set to please my husband, sisters, or mother. My goals are to follow a calling God has called me to.

Just as I sat and stressed over a visitor seeing the realities of homeschooling, I need to sit and focus on the one we invite in each morning. “Jesus, please be present in all we do. Teach us what we need to learn today, guide us to make right choices, lead me as I teach, comfort us when we make mistakes.” 

Seeing my mom in the room helped me to not scream and give up. Fridays are our hardest days. And they have been my worst day as mother and teacher. Yet having someone in my room observing, keeps me on track. But isn’t Jesus present at all times? Shouldn’t my behavior, motives, and mind be set on pleasing HIM. To run my day in such a way that if I saw it through HIS eyes, I’d feel I did well? So easy to forget, but we have a permanent resident in our hearts that guides us. He is watching. Are we who we want HIM to see? And when we don’t know the answer… just as my mom looked up “compound subject” for us when we drew a blank (talk about EMBARRASSING!) We can always stop, drop to our knees, and ask.  Is there really any other way to parent?

Thank you, Mom for not judging us. Thank you for not reprimanding me when I lost my patience. Thank you for being gracious with my unruly children. For loving us no matter how big of a headache we must have given. I appreciate your love despite my downfalls as a parent. And Jesus… DITTO!!! You judge our hearts, but guide us when we make mistakes. Thank you for the little patience I did have, and for your grace when I lacked. Thank you for loving my unruly children, and leading them even when they give ME a headache!

You’re presence is highly desired in all we do! You are ALWAYS invited! (Mom, you, too!)

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Lessons learned in Christian Life Academy

Well, first things… we named our homeschool. I’ve been praying about it all summer. To have a missions statement, and to sum it up in the name of our school. Naming your school isn’t always SUPER important when the kids are all 3rd grade and below. But I’ve read it can be important for highschool transcripts and college admission… Anywho, we named it. Christian Life Academy. It sums up everything we want for our school. Although academics are important, it is not the MOST important to us. Raising children who follow heart and soul after God is THE most important. Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. To teach how to praise God while pushing through difficult math problems is more important than figuring out how to divide. The division will come with practice… and so will the self control.

So… what did we learn our first week of classes?

1. That schedules will not always work. Sometimes things take longer, sometimes things are caught quickly. Sometimes I just need to let school go until dinner time, take breaks when appropriate and move on when allowed. When pressed for time, stress triggers yelling. Yelling does not portray love. Love is the point! Glorifying God is my goal!

2. Not every topic is as easy to comprehend as I think it should be! Sometimes I need to reword, use an illustration, act it out, or give up. It is more important to come back to a problem, to allow the student to figure it out on their own, or to try again later than it is to push to the point of yelling. Yelling does not portray love. Love is the point! Glorifying God is my goal!

3. Silliness occurs. Sometimes it occurs in the middle of trying to explain the concept that is not easily comprehended! Although these moments need to be addressed, they need to be addressed in a proper way. Yelling is not that proper way. Yelling does not portray Love. Love is the point! Glorifying God is my goal!

4. Messes are made. The academy part of our name is to show our love for education. It does not come ahead of seeking God, but it is the 2nd most important part of why we homeschool.  So it’s important for the teaching to be done, and when momentum and motivation FINALLY comes to my students, I need to take their lead. If that means the babies dump foam pieces all over, then so be it. I need to let that go. Although messes make my temper rise, it is MY  issue, not my students. Teaching my children to clean up their messes is also my responsibility… yelling does not teach. Yelling does not portray love. Love is the point. Glorifying God is my goal.

5. Homeschooling is a privilege. It may not always present itself as fun as public school to my kids. The decision to homeschool was solely the decision of my husband and me. It is not fair to my students to learn under my frustrations, my lack of self control, my temper. Love is the point! Glorifying God is my goal. NOTHING ELSE!

I glorify God when math is too hard. I glorify God when I allow Him to work outside of my schedule. I glorify God when I am able to creatively teach my children things they do not understand. I glorify God when I deal with disciplines in a godly manner. I glorify God when I think more about the purpose of the day than get side tracked with my own over extended expectations. I glorify God by obeying him in homeschooling my children. This means I love. I portray LOVE. I practice love. I demonstrate love. i personify Love.

So although alphabets were learned. Alphabetical order was learned, math was reviewed, and history was taught… I learned the biggest lesson of them all.

So honored to have this right. I enjoy it immensely. It is the hardest thing in my life right now. But also the most rewarding! God gave them to me. I want them to see the love I have for them, the love of teaching them, and the love I have for God. Lord, help me to portray that in all I do!

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