We are brand new to homeschooling! I have a theology degree, not an education degree. We are about four weeks into the year and most days I feel I am sinking further and further into the depths of the ocean without any life jacket or preserver. I am so over my head that I am not sure if I’m still breathing.
I read books, I listen to podcasts, I pray, and everyone keeps reaffirming me that these feelings are normal. This is how the beginning goes in homeschooling! I shake my head pretending to believe them, but in my head, I say, “I can’t make it a whole year like this!” “I don’t think we will survive this year…either I will die, or my fourth-grade son will!” For the readers that do not know me very well, I have a knack for the dramatics. I have a minor in theatre, and I was nick-named Sarah Bernhardt when I was a child. (For those of you who do not know who that is, she was a French actress who was a tad overly dramatic in her acting!)
Even though the above paragraph may be a little over the top, this is how I feel at the end of most days thus far in my homeschooling career. My fourth-grade son and I go head to head almost every day. He yells at me for making him do schoolwork, he yells at the curriculum for being the worst books he has ever had to learn from, and he yells at his siblings if they finish their work first. Those of you who have the joy of knowing my son, know he is actually an EXTREMELY sweet kid. He has a heart of gold! He loves deeply! He absolutely adores me and tells me how much he loves me all the time. He would be the first to protect me if someone were saying something terrible about me. That being said, he really, and I mean really, struggles with school and has very little self-esteem when it comes to his intelligence. Mind you, he has the memory of a steal trap and is one of the most intelligent 9-year old’s I have ever met. Sitting down to do schoolwork completely changes my loveable, fun-loving 9-year old’s attitude and he almost becomes a completely different child.
I take this to prayer often. I ask God to help me figure out a way to teach him that will help him grow in confidence, as well as a love for learning. Thus far, I feel as though I am failing him miserably. I question if I am supposed to send him back to school, but when I pray the answer is clear…God is calling me to work with him. In a previous blog, when I talked about why we choose to homeschool, my fourth grader was my ultimate why! He needed a bit of one on one help to catch up on a few things as well as a need to believe in himself. God showed me that I was the perfect one for that job. I had my doubts then and they have not disappeared, but day by day, God continues to call me here, to this place, to teach him and his sisters.
Homeschooling is certainly not the easy way out. Sure, I love the more relaxed mornings of not having to rush around to get out of the house by a certain time yelling at everyone all the way to the car. I love having the ability and gift to be home with my older three children every day. I love that I feel that I am serving God exactly where He has called me at this moment in my life. I don’t like that I am not successful every moment of every day…I am used to excelling at the jobs God has called me to do in the past…this has been one of the most humbling adventures God has sent me on to date. I do not like the tears that have been shed by me and my son out of frustration with each other and our inability to remain patient with each other. I do not like seeing him frustrated with himself and down on himself if he fails at something the first time he tries. (He is a lot like his mother!)
Why do I tell you this? Why do I bear my soul and my failures to you about our homeschooling adventure? I am certainly not painting a pretty picture for anyone out there praying about homeschooling their children, am I? I tell you this because family life can be messy! Homeschooling does not have to be perfect! I do not have to be perfect, my son does not have to be perfect, you do not have to be perfect…because God is perfect and He will make good out of every situation, if we let him. After a terribly difficult beginning to this week, at the end of today, as we closed his science book, my son looked at me and said, “I am glad you’re my teacher, Mom, you’re the best teacher I’ve ever had!” (What a charmer, huh? It got him an A ?)
I still do not have the answers for how to best teach my son, but I know that together we will make it! We will put our heads together, pray to God for guidance, and I will believe in him (and myself) every day. After all, this precious boy of mine needs to know that I am not only his teacher, I am his biggest fan!