When my children were in 5th and 2nd grade, I asked myself a question: “What is education”? What was I actually trying to accomplish before they left the nest? Though we were taking an alternative route already (see previous post), it wasn’t because I had a grand plan about what I was trying to accomplish. Beginning with the end in mind never occurred to me…until that year. So, I began to wonder…what AM I trying to accomplish? After a year of pondering, reading, and praying, I arrived at an educational mission statement:
To help my kids become who God created them to be and
be equipped to do what He designed them to do.
Defining my mission brought incredible freedom!
Why? Because it meant…
- I didn’t need to follow someone else’s idea of what was important or required.
- I was free to come alongside each of my kids in whatever way necessary to help them grow and develop into the unique people they were created to be.
- Education was going to look different for each child. Yes, we all need to read, write, and do some basic math. But beyond that – we’re all unique.
Armed with my new understanding, I could then let go of the idea that bureaucrats at the department of education knew what my children needed to thrive. I was no longer chained to a standardized one-size-fits-all curriculum mentality.
Through my study, I discovered the Latin root of the word education is educare – which means to draw out. My previous understanding of education had to do with pumping in a plethora of information. Now I understood my mission was primarily to discover, draw out, and develop what God had already put within each of my children.
Sidenote to my friends with kids in school: I believe God leads each one of us on a unique journey – for some that means school, for others it means homeschool. The key for all of us is being intentional. There are intentional parents (both homeschooling and school-going) who beautifully mentor their kids into becoming who God created them to be. And there are parents who do not. My heart is to encourage all of us to be intentional – school or no school.
In all honesty, I actually don’t like the word “homeschool”. Too many people wrongly assume it means to set up a classroom in your house, ring a bell, and do workbooks. While there are a few who take that approach (especially in the beginning), our philosophy was a lifestyle of learning. We saw all of life as an opportunity to learn. Thus, the name of our “school” was Life Academy.
And, yes, I had the same fears as every other homeschool mom when embarking on this adventure. Am I doing enough? Are they on track? What will this look like in high school? Can I really do this? And the list goes on. Now that I’m on the other side I can say this: It was all worth it. The ups, the downs, and the all arounds. I made plenty of mistakes but choosing to be in the trenches with my kids was not one of them. I will never regret doing life together. The relationships we built and the memories we made are beyond priceless.
So how did these guinea-pig kids from a first-generation homeschooling family turn out? What happened to these two students who never set foot in a traditional school until they went to college? How badly were they messed up by a two-year hiatus traveling the country in a motorhome?
My daughter, now 22 years old, earned an Associate’s degree in Entrepreneurship, continues to run the business she started when she was sixteen, and is continuing her “education” via an internship in Virginia this summer. My 19-year-old son has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and is continuing his “education” being gainfully employed at his first professional job.
Before you think I’m patting myself on the back, on the contrary! Their accomplishments are not due to me designing and executing the perfect curriculum plan. It was simply allowing God to lead and taking one step at a time. To tell you the truth, I did very little educating in the traditional sense of the word. When they were young, we read books (Sonlight historical fiction) together, but they read even more on their own. Mostly we were curious. We explored. We learned – and continue to learn – how God created the world to work and sought to align our lives with Him. Science, by the way, is nothing more than discovering how God designed the world we live in…but that’s another story.
If anything, I see myself as a mentor – a guide – a facilitator – helping them discover who God created them to be – and finding ways for them to be equipped for what God designed them to do. That process involved everything from buying Legos to milking goats!
To be honest, all I did was instill a love for learning, facilitate and embrace the experiences they needed to grow – and then I got out of the way and let them fly.
If you’re just getting started, here are a few words of wisdom:
- When your kids are young, all you need is a library card, a Bible, and math curriculum. (Wise advice I heard years ago from Carole Joy Seid) #keepitsimple
- Slow down, savor the experience – the days are long, but the years are short!
- Above all else – enjoy the journey and remember learning is a lifelong process.
- Every child is unique – that’s good – embrace it!
- Stop stressing about the small stuff
- Don’t try to cover seven subjects in first grade – go out and explore the world together – and then come home, snuggle up on the couch, and read a good book!
What does this have to do with Wellness?
Everything! But this post has already exceeded my self-imposed 750 word limit. So I’ll save that connection for next time!
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