So I got my HomeSchool Enrichment magazine in the mail today and started taking a look through it right away. I came across a very encouraging article written by Lea Ann Garfias. This article reminded me partly as to why I started home teaching and why we felt our family was lead to do it by God. You may not totally agree with everything she says but it really makes you think...hmmm..why am I home teaching? Take look! You can also go here to see more of her thoughts.
Why Would You Want to Do That??
It should have been a simple question for me to answer. Why didn't I have a simple answer? What was wrong with me? I cleared my throat, hoping my mind would clear with it. No such luck.
I was trapped like a rat in my McDonald's booth. Mom was munching her chicken fingers across from me and making small talk with the manager. Said successful manager turned out to actually own this franchise and another across town. She had just finished touting the joy of her career, her husband's successful career, and her beloved nanny came together to give her the life of her dreams. Radiantly, she turned to me and said. "So, what do you do?"
I had been dreading that question from the beginning of her monologue. I had seen it coming, and I had been sinking further and further down below the yellow table, hoping it would hide me, my stained t-shirt, and my ponytail too. Again, no such luck. "She Homeschools!" Mom piped up, encouraging. I wilted further. Then, the manager/owner/nanny-employer turned her eyes penetratingly upon me and demanded:
"Why would you want to do that?"
In that moment, I loathed myself. Really, truly, I was so ashamed that I just wanted to hide under my southwest chicken salad. But she waited, cold as the iceberg lettuce, as I inwardly berated myself.
I'm a homeschool grad. I am rearing four well-adjusted, never-institutionalized children. I'm a home-education writer, reviewer, and consultant. And I could not, at that moment, give One Good Reason why I would want to do that!
The fact is...Some days-and this happened to be one of them-I don't really want to "do that."
Home educating is just plain hard. It hurts. It makes me cry. I get lonely, even.
Home educating is a thankless job. My husband wants me to do it and has the most invested in this project, but even he forgets to throw me a parade every night. I still do not have my medal for being a Homeschool Grad from The Persecuted Years in America. So I am not holding out hope that the Second Generation is getting trophies here on earth, either.
Home education is a 24-hour-a-day, 356-day-a-year job, especially for those of us "real life" and "year-round" classical educators. What was I thinking? Teaching constantly all the time, "when I rise up, when I sit down, while I walk in the way..."? Where is the vacation or break there?
Home education disqualifies one from the Martha Stewart Homemaker of the Year. Some days, I just want to scream, "I can't take this mess anymore! Get you people and all your stuff off my floors and out of my house!" Living 24/7 in the same space with children who are home all day is a recipe for home clutter disaster.
Where do I put the books? I keep tearing down the bookshelves and building bigger bookshelves, but it is never enough for all the books!
Home educating is very tiring. That is the thing. I just get tired. Tired of grading papers; tired of listening; tired of answering; tired of picking up; tired of holding; tired of wiping; tired of reading; tired of fixing; tired of correcting; tired of correcting again; tired of answering again; tired of reading; tired of listening again...I am so...so...tired...so tired..
"Why would you want to do that?"
It was particularly hard to answer Happy Career Mom that day because I was a Very Tired Home Educator at that moment. But after some more sleep and deeper reflection, I remembered again why I want to do that.
I love watching my children grow and learn! When I tell our personal homeschool story, I mention teaching my firstborn for "just one year" and then becoming addicted within those first months. It is true. I watched him put letters together to make words; I held his hand to write and watched him form his name on his own for the first time; I saw his excitement at writing number sentences like a mathematician. These learning moments and other milestones became precious to both of us, like watching a baby's first steps. I don't want someone else to teach my children about the fall of Rome, the martyrdom of Tyndale, or the theory of relativity. These are ours to share.
I love being with my own children! OK, truth be told, I do need time away from them all to refresh my spirit and re energize myself once a year or so, but I could not imagine sending my four offspring away every day. They are important people in my life whom I love an cherish. This time with them is already going by too fast; my firstborn is more than half-done with his time with me. These are days to cherish.
Home education is a superior educational model. My children benefit from a very small class size and frequent one-on-one instruction, utilizing the mentor ship model. They are trained early on to learn from a variety of resources, including reading and researching from classic works and primary sources; interviewing knowledgeable people; attending cultural events, festivals, and concerts; and observing and experimenting. They spend the bulk of their day not only on reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also on entrepreneurship, home economics, home repair, and music, This educational variety and life training simply would not be possible had they been institutionalized. Home education gives my children greater educational variety.
My teaching focus is different from that of a classroom teacher. I am not concerned that my children score high on a test; they have never colored in a circle in their lives; I don't care if they forget every date and most of the names, or if they never learn to spell(I never did), or use their fingers to cipher (I sometimes do. It didn't help for calculus). I am after a greater goal: character, not acclaim; wisdom and understanding, not mere knowledge; work ethic, not riches; service, not popularity; godliness, not grades. That's not to say some of those other things aren't important-they just aren't the focus.
Different results call for different means. This is a sowing and reaping principle. If I wanted the same thing as Happy Career Woman, I would do the same things she is doing. But since I have a different goal, a different vision, and a different calling, I must be different. My life should be lived in a radically different way. My children, if I want them to be completely different from the culture in which they live, must be trained in a completely different way. How could I do the mainstream thing and expect different results? I must also have faith that God will reward my patient planting, watering, weeding, and tending to reward me with a spiritual harvest which none can take away.
Teaching my own children is a calling. I am called of God to be the mother of my children (1 Timothy 2:15). Keeping my home, including training my children and managing our family's resources, is a responsibility on which our testimony hangs (Titus 2:3-5). This is not a task to be taken lightly. My very God has given it to me.
Most importantly, and perhaps I don't say this often enough, my husband and I have come to the conviciton that God's people should rain their own children. As my husband says, there is no wonderland for everybody; difficult trials and family situations make this just t rear each child in godliness and uprightness according to His Word. We believe God's admonitions in Deuteronomy 4-6 are still applicable to His people today, calling us to pass on our life of faith to succeeding generations by how we teach and live with them daily. We believe that the promises of Proverbs to the family who imparts knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to their young are still to be claimed today (see particularly chapters 1-4). And we further believe that the example of the New Testament believers builds on these principles (see especially Paul's epistles to Timothy). From the beginning, God's chosen method of education has always begun with the family.
Two years ago, my husband took us to visit his homeland of Peru. For the children and me, it was a mind-altering experience. Seeing the truly poverty-stricken and destitute people living in close proximity to the well-off was a sharp contrast we have never erased from our minds. Since we look so obviously American, flocks of begging children accosted my own children to buy their candies for pennies, leaving my children heartbroken for their plight. As we drove down the streets, we could not bring ourselves to look full upon the cardboard houses stacked on the dirt hills. When we flew back to he U.S. and drove into our driveway, we sat in our minivan a moment just gazing upon our house. "It looks like a mansion now," my son said.
My husband said at the supper table last night that I could put he four children in school and get a job if I wanted to bring in another paycheck. That would increase our income so drastically that we could then put the house up for sale and move to a better neighborhood, even live in a home that doesn't need any repairs. My husband could buy a new sedan, instead of driving the beat-up Toyota Tercel. We could buy electronics for everyone and go out to eat frequently. But non of those things are needs to any of us anymore, he reminded us. With food and raiment, we are content.
I am working for something much more valuable than a paycheck, a house, electronics, or social status.
I never got to share with Happy Career Mom why I would want "do that." By the time I gathered half my wits about me, she was called away to manage the restaurant. I am thankful, however, that the Lord used that conversation to remind me of the importance of knowing why I do what I do...even when the going gets tough.
written by Lea Ann Garfias