Sunday, February 1, 2009

Anatomy of Happy Meal Lamb

I believe that homeschooling is a lifestyle rather than a compartmentalized-something-we-do. I did not recognize it at the time, but it began in our family the moment our children came into our lives. This being said, our school district would consider my daughter to be in the first grade. Most first-graders start school around six years-old, but the age of compulsory attendance is seven in our state and we waited as long as we possibly could before filing our Notice of Intent. Doing this has had its benefits. It has postponed the need to have Asher tested until she's nine (grade three) and has given us a cushion that has allowed me the time to think and re-think my own homeschool philosophy.

When she was around three or four I purchased a pre-made, pre-scheduled curriculum. I like predictability and if that meant being told what to do and when, then so be it. After about four days of this however, I realized that I had the ability to quench my child's love for learning or fan it. With the approach I was taking, it was quickly becoming clear that no one would be rushing in to mistakenly save us from a fiery inferno anytime soon.

 I could almost hear the fizzle in her little heart.

It was not natural and neither of us were enjoying ourselves. I decided then to put everything away and pull back. I watched and was amazed at what she was learning without me deciding for her that NOW was when she needed to know it. Every once and a while I would wonder if maybe I shouldn't do something that looked a little bit more like 'school'. At times this has been okay for us (my now four year-old really enjoys Horizon's math workbooks), but most of the time, not. The mistake that I make with them is that I stop tuning into what they want to know, and for my own security, I fall back on what is familiar to me.

Asher has always been about her own timing and I am not really sure why I tried to fit her into any other box in the first place. She has always resisted being pushed, but give her some room and she will exceed your expectations. Today, on her own, she initiated a lesson on place value up to the thousands; never in my life would I have thought that that would be something a child would want, or know to cover on their own. I am learning to take my cues from my children (clearly, animal anatomy beckons) and ultimately from the God who made and knows them.

It is a little scary, letting go, because (and did I mention?) I still LOVE order and the security that comes in knowing 'what comes next'. It comes down to trusting God one step at a time.

Sure, I can function and trust when everything is neat and tidy, but do I trust him in the chaos? When my house is a mess? When it is dinner time and my four-year-old is still wearing nothing but her undies and has leaves stuck to the gum in her hair? When I want my child to perform faster, or to someone else's standard? Am I at peace knowing that an observer might not believe that we are 'doing it right?' Am I willing to let people see that I do not have it all together?

No, not always. But I am willing to try because, even though letting go tends to make life unpredictable, I want there to be room in my life for the surprises because that is often where the blessings are.

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