My Surprise Upon Waking in a Minivan!
Being a stay-at-home mom was never on my radar, so homeschooling definitely never crossed my mind. I met my husband in Maryland, where I grew up and he was stationed for the Air Force. We married in 2004. When my husband, our daughter and I moved to Florida in 2007, I had just resigned from my career as a police officer. Sadly, that job was my identity and the transition from police officer to stay-at-home mom was incredibly difficult. Within a ten-month span, I resigned from my career, had a baby, and moved 1000 miles away from all family and my support system. I did not know it then, but this was a gift.
A few years later, I enrolled my daughter in preschool and then Pre-K. From there she moved on to Kindergarten. My first thought of homeschooling came, not out of my curiosity but from her. She asked several times if I would homeschool her. I decided to pray about it. I had made friends who homeschooled, but it just seemed overwhelming and unnecessary for our family. I liked her school and her teachers. The request weighed heavily on me though, so I consulted God and pray about it. Once I prayed, I thought, “OK, God is going to tell me to homeschool, so I had better get ready,” but the clarification did not come so, I sent her on to the first grade.
Soon into the school year, at a parent/teacher conference, the teacher told me that my daughter finished her work quickly and efficiently. The teacher would then have her assist other students that needed schoolwork help. I thought it was a significant for her to get the experience of helping other students with material she just learned, but it ended up becoming a common occurrence. I asked the teacher if she could give my daughter extra work so that it could challenge her. That is when I got my first taste of one aspect I did not like about public school. I was told that all students needed to be kept on the same level. She could not give work to my daughter that some other kids in the class may not do.
One day, I went to the school to have lunch with my daughter. There was a little boy coming out of the cafeteria lunch line, carrying his tray of food, crying. A few moments later, I noticed that same boy sitting at a desk, alone, facing the wall, eating his lunch, and still crying. I asked my daughter why he was sitting away from everyone else. She said he always sits there because he always gets into trouble. While I believe in discipline and did not have the entire story, my heart broke for him. Thoughts crossed my mind. “Did anyone ever actually sit down and talk to this boy and get to the heart of the matter?” “Did he feel alone in a room full of people because no one understood him?” “Did his mother know that her son was crying and punished in this way every day?” I saw my own son potentially being in this boy’s position, and my heart broke even more. School was not a one size fits all in more ways than one.
During Spring Break of that same school year, I took my son and daughter to museums, the zoo, live performances and to the beach. Everywhere we went became a lesson, and we were having long discussions about what we were seeing and how they all related to each other. It was during one of those discussions that I heard the Lord speak to me, “Now you are ready to homeschool.” I spoke with her teacher, a 20-year veteran in the public school system, and told her of my plans to homeschool. She shocked me with her response when she said, “Good, she will learn so much more.”
I felt the need to learn everything I could about what I needed to do for the next school year, and boy was I lost. I had dived in headfirst but came back out more confused. I would get snippets of information from other homeschool parents, but some homeschool moms seemed to want to keep their tried-and-true answers and methods to themselves. If I did not ask specific questions, I got vague answers. I did not have the knowledge of what questions to ask. One helpful mom said to me, “You have to check out Classical Conversations (CC).”
I went to a parent practicum for CC and learned about the classical model of homeschooling as well as what their program offered. I learned about the three tiers of learning, how they approached those tiers and how they all came together in the high school years. My daughter was only going into the second grade, but hearing about what she would do in the middle and high school years with this program lit a fire under me. In the middle to high school years, students enter the Challenge courses of CC. In Challenge B (the second year of Challenge), she could take part in a Mock Trial in a real courtroom presided over by an actual judge. I learned she would learn how to detect fallacies in advertising, politics, the media, and those in relationships with other people. She would learn not what to think but how to think. Most importantly, she would learn that all subjects were not separate from each other but were integrated with God in the center. I signed up for CC soon after, and we are going into our eighth year with CC and homeschooling.
My son started school a couple of years later and where my daughter was a self-motivated student, he was not. On my first morning homeschooling them both in a science lesson, my daughter was sitting at the table, respectfully listening. My son was rolling on the floor under a chair. I felt anger rising like mercury due to him not listening when, suddenly; he raised his hand and asked an intelligent, pertinent question. He was listening, even though he could not sit still. Another confirmation that he would do better being homeschooled than in a classroom setting. He has since stopped this type of behavior now that he is ten years old, but he still learns in unconventional ways. This also taught me to check my own insecurities and expectations when schooling my children.
So here we are nearly 8 years later, and we finally reached the year that my daughter took part in Challenge B, the mock trial year. Before the year started, I went to the Lord once again when the director's position for the class sat vacant. “Please send someone to direct this class, Lord. This is for what I have been waiting. If it is your will, please send a director so my daughter and her classmates will not miss the opportunity to take part.” In so many words, I can tell you he answered my prayer. Surprise, I was the Challenge B Director for the 2020/21 school year. Just like time flew by where it seemed one day I was a police officer and the next I opened my eyes and was a homemaker in a car line in a minivan, so too was I in a parent practicum dreaming of my daughter’s future mock trial to being the director for that same class. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways.
I would like to encourage all parents to seek what is right for your family. I would never be one to tell another parent what they should do for their children, but I ask that you really put deep thought into it. God has placed these souls into our care for only a little while, and that is not a responsibility we should take lightly. He has bigger plans for us than we could ever have dreamed for ourselves. Sometimes that does not look the way we thought it would. Is homeschooling difficult? Some days, yes. Does it frustrate me when my daughter rolls her eyes when it is time for math? You bet. Does it baffle me when my son says he does not need to know how to read to be a scientist? Ten times, yes! But I would not trade this opportunity for anything. Over these past years I have learned what it means to clear out the clutter, whether it be actual things or time. I highly recommend the book, “Teaching from Rest.”
Homeschool does not have to be hectic and overwhelming. Find community with other homeschool families and learn from each other. Sometimes adjustments will need to be made, and that is totally fine. If you are a seasoned homeschool parent, please do not keep all that knowledge to yourself. Be available for the new parents beginning the journey.
Change can be difficult. It was heart-wrenching handing over my badge when I had to resign from my career. It was lonely when God had me move 1000 miles away from my friends and family. It was hard finding my way as “his wife” and “her mother”, rather than being seen for my own accomplishments. But God……. God moved me to a community where I found a Christ-centered church with loving sisters in Christ. He made room in my life for me to make time to educate my children. He took away my support system to show me that all my dependence need only be on Him. He gave me a loving, supporting husband to walk beside me through it all. What a spectacular gift.
“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21