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Michele's Musings

Upon Christian Homeschooling

by Michele Hastings

(This article is composed of two more excerpts from Michele’s excellent book “The Homeschooling Trail”. Please see it at her website, listed at the end of this piece.)

Vision for the Future
“A picture paints a thousand words.” Leafing through photo albums that acted as portfolios for the boys’ assessments in the early days of homeschooling, I began to reminisce. We’d dug the albums out in response to the curiosity our houseguests expressed about homeschooling and what it actually looked like.

Our homeschooling journey has progressed in stages. Until the boys got to about the age of eight, our days were comprised of readin’stuff, makin’ stuff, doin’ stuff and goin’ places. We read colorful Bible stories and piles of books the boys hauled home from the library; did tons of hands-on activities such as baking, crafts and projects; and built things out of Lego and K’nex. We played games and dressed up, re-enacting the things we’d read. We explored nature, did experiments, invented sports, made “set-ups” with toy figures, and visited places in the community. We didn’t follow any scope-and-sequence, telling us what to learn when. Although I tried to encourage them to learn to read and write, they were more interested in learning about life and the world around them. Instead of learning things sequentially, their learning looked more like a spider web, jumping from one interest to another. Eventually it began to connect. They learned about a wide variety of subjects and could express themselves vividly and clearly. They hadn’t memorized their times table but they were gaining an understanding about numbers, patterns, money, and measurement. 

Although this method of learning was unnerving for me, as a very sequential thinker myself, and I was always fearful about them being behind their age-mates, the boys were happy and thriving. I had to set my own narrow-minded opinions aside, and embrace a method of learning that I’d known little about, apart from my recent research. Comparing the boys to their schooled and homeschooled peers has been an ongoing issue for me. Developing the same level of confidence in this style of education as my husband has is a constant battle. I’ve discovered things about myself and about the boys that I never would have, had I attempted to force traditional education on them. Every time I questioned God about homeschooling and the way we homeschooled, God told me to put my hand to the plow and keep plowing. I’ve had to learn to trust Him, trust myself, and trust the kids, that they’d learn what they needed to, when they needed to, and how they needed to, according to the way God designed them. It’s been a real faith walk and my biggest challenge, causing me to stretch and grow both in character and faith.

We moved into the second stage of our homeschooling when the boys got older and I felt led to incorporate a “table time” into our daily routine. This stage included daily work in Language Arts (reading, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, and descriptive writing) and math (computation skills, fractions, percentages, decimals, and geometry). Daily devotions, Independent Living Skills, entrepreneurial activities, and sports began to fill our days. Because of their insatiable interest in television news, they are learning about Current Events. Maps and globes scattered around have helped them expand their geographical awareness. Stemming from their sports passion, they’re getting an education in nutrition, exercise, health, and anatomy. The rotating collection of pets, and the programs they watch, rounds out their science education. I can see this stage lasting until they are confident and competent in reading, in expressing themselves through the written word, and in computation skills as well as other aspects of basic arithmetic. As Tymon approaches twelve and Asher eleven, I see how far they’ve progressed. I visualize that in the next year or so they’ll move on to the next stage of our homeschooling journey.

In this third stage, about the time the boys become teenagers, I suspect they’ll be more involved in the community — volunteering, apprenticing, and working. I hope to find suitable mentors to help them further develop their talents, abilities, and passions, in whatever areas they want to pursue. By the time they leave home I expect them to be capable of living independently. Years of daily training in nutrition, hygiene, healthy and helpful habits, housework, yard-work, cooking, shopping, and handling money will culminate in mature individuals who can make well-informed choices, set priorities, and take care of their bodies and belongings.

We hope that our daily spiritual training and emphasis on relationship will build Godly, honorable, young men who are willing and able to make sincere commitments and are capable of developing wholesome relationships. I want our boys to follow God and His will for their lives. I pray that their calling in life will earn them a respectable income, suitable for supporting and nurturing a family. I want them to work hard but love what they do and stand up for truth. We haven’t done things in the typical way. I believe God has a plan for each of our lives and He’s leading us in the way that is best for us to go. The road has not been easy to travel, but it’s been a worthwhile journey. We walk in confidence, trusting Him to guide us, being sensitive to turns in the road along the way.

(Taken from Chapter 5: pg. 55-57)

Holding Onto What’s Precious
As war rages on between powerful world forces, a different yet equally devastating battle is being played out in our own back yards. The enemy is in the business of dividing and destroying. He stirs up conflict between nations, splits churches, and divides families. As Christians, we must stand guard against his attack.

I’ve become increasingly aware of the enemy’s devices in my own life, and to confirm the struggle I’ve been engaged in, our pastor shared a message today about the very same subject. To further convict me, my mom lent me Joyce Meyer’s The Battle Belongs to the Lord, which I’m anxious to dive into.[1] 

I understand how easily families become divided. If we weren’t homeschooling our boys, I don’t know when I’d see them, let alone make valuable deposits into their lives. Even at the tender ages of ten and eleven, Tymon and Asher have a social life that puts mine to shame! I get tired of trying to keep up with everything they’re planning. Our house has a revolving door! On weekends we largely ignore each other; from the time they spring out of bed till their heads hit the pillow at night, they’re in the company of their friends and being entertained by various electronic devices. I enjoy having them fend for themselves on the weekends so that I can delve into my own pursuits, or at least take off my “teacher’s hat” and just be Mom. If that were our typical pattern instead of just a weekly break from routine, we would lose touch with one another very quickly.
I enjoy my personal time immensely, yet also look forward to having the boys back to myself once Monday rolls around. When I don’t have to compete with their friends and gaming devices, we enjoy each other’s company, sharing conversations and activities. Lately, days have rushed by, but we’ve still had precious hours on a consistent basis to interact. 

The years also fly by; around the corner are driver’s licenses, jobs, and girlfriends. Now is the time to impact our children’s lives. The enemy is doing everything possible to shorten that span. Hectic, over-packed schedules, materialism, and addiction to entertainment rob our society of the meaningful relationships God intended us to have. I’ve come to rely on computers and enjoy watching movies, but sometimes I long to slow down the pace, escaping to a quiet wilderness cabin alone with my family.

I’m glad to be homeschooling if for no other reason than staying in touch with our ever growing, constantly changing children. When I look back, I’ll be pleased to have invested time, energy, and effort getting to know our boys and letting them get to know me. People on their deathbed don’t usually fret about not having made enough money in their lifetime. Instead, they regret not spending enough time with loved ones. Homeschooling is a precious gift, valuable beyond measure and definitely worth the cost!

(Taken from Chapter 7: pg. 86-87)

[1] Meyer, Joyce. The Battle Belongs to the Lord. Warner Books, 2002.

_________________

Michele Hastings is the author of “The Homeschooling Trail” which is described as “A ‘Fly-on-the-Wall’ view of homeschooling in the Hastings’ home.” that recounts she and husband, Ted’s, adventures with teaching their 2 sons in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. For more information, please visit Michele’s website, www.michelehastings.com.