It’s a hard job but someone has to do it. Oh right, that’s why there are government schools and licensed professionals! Silly me. But really, what was I thinking?
Actually, I never thought about it. I just remember looking at Gideon when he was a few days old and having it dawn on me, “Oh farts! Some day I’m going to have to homeschool you.” And then my worst nightmare came true. Five years later I woke up a homeschool mom. All of a sudden there are desks in my basement. I have to learn Shurley English. Worse than that, I have to teach it to the less than perceptive. And often, I have to do so while seated chest deep in a pile of laundry. If I cried, I would cry myself to sleep every night. Fortunately, I don’t have feelings. I just do my job.
And my job kicks ass. It’s only hard because it’s worth it. It takes unforeseen amounts of patience, diligence, vision, determination – which I don’t have. But I’m going to. Homeschooling is like crossfit for moms. At the end of the day, Jesus owns you. And all you can do is tapout, ask forgiveness. And then start over, in His grace. As I was telling my friend the other day, I think being at my wits’ end is my comfort zone. I like it. And as much as I feel the burn, if it was taken away from me I would be cheated. This is where the honor is. Washing the kitchen table has to be done, but face it, it’s not that exciting. Maybe being a 50’s housewife got it’s bad rap because they were a generation of cheated women. The government took their legacy, their responsibility, their arrows – and gave them a scrub bucket. As for me, this is the greatest thing I will ever do and you can put my kids in government school when you pry them out of my cold dead fingers. Basically.
Perhaps another reason homeschooling is hard, is that women were never really intended to shoulder that kind burden alone. And neither are they suited for it. Before industrialization the world was a much more home centered place. The father worked from home in the craft he learned from his father, passing it down to his sons. Who worked alongside him. Now the world requires a little more than that. The machine needs it’s cogs. Yet, even when my husband is spewed out at the end of the day, he doesn’t call it quits in front of the TV. He hauls himself back up again. Because whether the world is perfect or not, this is still our calling. This is where our joy and our life is. In this job. The best job.
I can’t think of a better work. We want to train children whose minds are eager to take every thought captive for the Lord Jesus Christ. Who are wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Children who know that we are in a battle. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Welcome to our mat room. (It’s usually not this clean.)
If you can’t tell, I’m not a typical homeschooler. You’re not going to find me in a jumper at the neighboring curriculum fair. You won’t see me near a science experiment, or pouring over curriculum catalogs, and I refuse to purchase math manipulatives or literature guides. I don’t even believe in learning styles. And if I did, I wouldn’t care. There is so much hype around education, so many tricks, so many methods, and even more products. In the end I like to step back and say, “Oh, guess what? These are my kids and I can do what I want. That’s right.”
It’s my call. I refuse to be browbeaten by what everyone else wants them to do or what dots someone else thinks they need to fill in. We are the ones that have to be happy with them. They have to meet our standards. Which are? Simply, I want them to love learning and reading. More importantly, I want them to be able to think about what they learn and read. I want them to automatically and intrinsically weigh everything against the Word of God. And then I want them to be able to speak with their enemies in the gates. I want them to know what is truth, where it comes from, and to be able to express themselves in a way that gives them confidence to do so. And guess what? They don’t make workbooks for that. It’s just life. It’s what you do every day. It’s who you are.
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
I figure I have years still to get this under my belt. But so far, what I really want is for my school to look like life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some radical unschooler. I’m actually a bit of a math and grammar Nazi. But the rest of it just seems to be books. Real books. We read about it, we talk about it, we write about it. “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” We put it in and then we put it back out. Dumbells for the soul. So far my school supply list for this year consisted of number two pencils, journals, and seven maxed out library cards.
But that’s only half the battle. The rest of the fight is preserving an atmosphere in the home that is conducive to learning. Peace. Contentment. Staying home, being unplugged, and enjoying it. Enjoying each other. And for some reason, the rest of the world has to be turned way down for that to happen. It’s loud out there. I have been careful from the very beginning to keep them away from things that are too jacked up. Too stimulating. No cartoons, no plastic toys, no action figure t-shirts, comic books, or an excess of peers – and either that worked or my kids are just boring as hell. But hey, they have attention spans and read like termites. That and their vocabularies are, as Gideon would say, just lovely.
On a school day you can always expect Gideon or Jehu to be curled up on the sheep with a book, we’re still anticipating the first fire of the season, Jael likes to listen to Frank Sinatra on the record player and fill her copybook, Rahab mows through stuff with the scissors, Judith naps. This is a good life.
And right here, this is the best spot.