Monday, November 28, 2011

Sufficient Grace

One of the things that I really love about homeschooling is how much God teaches me while I am busy teaching. We have been doing this homeschool thing for 21 years now. There have been some great days. I enjoy the days when the kids seem to "get it", things go smoothly, and everyone gets along. Those days are icing on the cake. They are the fun days, the days you want those who are considering homeschooling to see. Those are not the common days.
That is okay, though. The common days are the ones where the regular flow of life happens. The school work gets done, sometimes not until after dinner. Chores are finished, not always joyfully, and we all bump along together.
It is the rough days, however, that can be the best ( only in retrospect, of course). Those days where there is crying over school work, frustration over the lack of cooperation around the house, and a general selfishness that fills the air are the ones that God uses to grow me the most. Those are the days where He increases my patience, my reliance on Him, and my realization of His amazing love for me. Those are the days that show me just who I really am and how very undeserving I am of a Savior who died for me. On the good days, I begin to think that I have it all under control and I am doing okay. It is the hard days that get me on my knees begging God for grace to make it through. And He always supplies my needs.
One of the greatest benefits of teaching my children at home is how much I have grown in my understanding of who God is and who I am. My advice? Embrace those difficult days, thank the Lord for the tears and tantrums, and remember that He is your Heavenly Father, willing and able to bless you with every good gift, including the grace to wake up the next day ready to do it all again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Homeschool

I've been doing this homeschool thing for the past 21 years, and I have heard a lot of reasons as to why moms couldn't possibly homeschool their kids. I must agree with these women. There are some very valid reasons to not homeschool your children. Here are a few of the things I have heard over the years.
1. I am not a teacher. You are probably right. The federal, state, or local government has probably not recognized you as an "official" teacher. That doesn't mean you are not a teacher. Do your children know their names? Who do you suppose taught them that? When Sally tells daddy about what she did during the day, does she say " I am playing in the sandbox," or does she tell him that she played there? Congratulations! Without even working at it you have taught your child to conjugate verbs. Does your child know the difference between a pet and a tree? Good, basic scientific concepts of discerning between living and non-living things has been passed along. You see, you ARE a teacher. You teach 24/7/365 like it or not. You have taught your children an incredible amount before you even pass them off to the "real" teachers. What on earth makes you think you are not a teacher?
2. I don't have enough patience. This is one of the best reasons to not homeschool. I know because I don't have enough patience either. The amazing thing about homeschooling ( or marriage, or parenting, or living on a planet with other people) is that you develop patience as you go. My husband is one of the most patient people I have ever met, and yet, God gave him me for a wife to help develop patience in him. I know when you started this parenting thing you were not as patient as you are now. I also know there is room to grow. Ask any homeschooler around, and they will tell you that they did not start this because they were patient enough. Homeschooling, like all of life, gives you an opportunity to develop the patience that you need.
3. I don't know enough. If this is your reason for not homeschooling, then you are probably not a good candidate for the job. If you do not know enough to know how to learn, then you should not be learning alongside your child. Maybe you could ask him to homeschool you. Who has ever started something new and known all about it? When you began school did you know all the answers? How about when you got married, started a new job, had children, or began a new hobby? Every, and I repeat, every homeschool mom I have ever met has marveled at how much they have learned while homeschooling their children. This could be really good news for some of you. Did you know that studies show that keeping your brain active by learning new things could lessen the onset or effects of dementia and Alzheimer's? Homeschooling can keep you healthy.
Those are just a few of the most common reasons to not homeschool your children. There are tons more. It is easy to find an excuse to not do something that might be difficult or make you stand out from the crowd. I hope that some of you who have been using these excuses will seriously consider rethinking things and give homeschooling a try. You just might surprise yourself. If it doesn't work out for you, you can always send your kid back to the professionals. I don't think you will.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Little Words

It seems like three little words are often enough to keep you out of trouble. "Yes, thank you", "I love you", "I am sorry", and "Save your money". All are so important for making your life run smoothly, but I've been thinking about the last group lately.
When I was growing up and my brother or I would see something at the store that caught our eye, we acted as any normal kid does, we asked for it. It didn't matter to us if it was penny candy (yes, kids, stores really used to sell candy for one penny) or a large ticket item. My moms response was most often "save your money". I am so grateful now that she was teaching us such an important life lesson that many parents seem to have forgotten. Those three little words have saved me much pain.
"Save your money" keeps you from drowning in debt. It teaches you patience, perseverance, and the joy of anticipation. It teaches you the value of hard work, wise decision making, and shopping for deals. With those three words my mom was teaching us to set our priorities in life. We learned that you can have a very happy fulfilling life without having to own the latest styles, most up to date electronic gadgets, or newest car. We learned to appreciate what we did have because we knew the effort that went into obtaining it. I am so very grateful that mom loved us enough to speak three words instead of saying the one "yes".
Now that I am a mom, I understand how hard that must have been for her. It is much easier to put a smile on your child's face with a "yes". We all want our kids to be happy. But, maybe we should start wanting more for them. Maybe, as parents, we should want our kids to enjoy the sense of accomplishment they will get by working hard for something that they want in life. I wish that some of the parents of the Occupy Wallstreet group had put the effort into teaching this to their kids.

Friday, November 4, 2011

50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know

My daughter is just about to turn 13, and we are beginning to be more intentional about our discussions concerning just exactly what a lady is and does. This book came into our lives at just the right time. Kay West does a good job of explaining to your young women just what to do and say in certain situations. She has covered traditional topics like dining, answering the phone and writing thank you notes as well as more current situations concerning cell phones, computers, and social networks. Many of the things that were covered in the book were not even topics that we had considered; such as entering and exiting a car.
It looks like, in this day and age, we have forgotten to teach our daughters some of the more common courtesies that they will need to get along well in this world. I often come across women who have no idea how to accept a compliment, respond to an invitation or lose graciously. These are things that all of our daughters will come across in their lifetime. Don't we want them to be able to handle these things with grace and poise? The saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression". This book is a good aid for those who want to make sure that they are making some good impressions by treating others with some simple respect.