"Beloved Christians, you and your children shall appear at that Judgment of Christ, and you shall give account for them to the just Judge. He will not ask you whether you have taught your children the arts or whether you have taught them to speak French, or German, or Italian, but whether you have taught them to live as Christians." ~St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
At the heart of it all, this is what I hope to pass to my children. This is why I wish to home school the children--so that they might freely live their faith every day with their family (Some might say you can do this all while going to school and living in the world. But their picture of living faith is different than mine). I pray that they learn and live the faith.
Today we finished the first quarter, of our first official year of home school. To most, this would seem to be a small accomplishment in the grand scale of one's education. But it's not to me. If only everyone else could see how far we have come. It's been a battle of wills. It's been a trial of trust. It's been an intimate family affair. It has been a test of fortitude. We have reached into the depths of our souls to justify this path. We have fought against societal convention. All of this we have traversed to reach this, the first official year of schooling.
When I came to see that home schooling was the best kind of education I could give my child, it was then that it seemed this dream would never come to fruition. I could not find a way to get my son to work consistently on minor home schooling activities as a kindergartner. My husband thought that perhaps his personality did not lend itself to being home schooled. My husband insisted that we would try public school while my heart still longed to teach my kids at home. Then a friend, most sincerely, said that she would offer prayers for us. Of course, I prayed daily about it. Somehow in the following six months this adventure of home schooling came to pass.
At the beginning of the quarter I gave the kids incentives to sit and learn such as candy and prizes. I thought, my goodness these kids are going to be fat and I will be broke by the end of the year if this the only way the kids will sit for their lessons. But, at the end of two weeks the kids had gotten into the habit of working on school lessons and they no longer asked for candy or prizes. They simply understood that this was school time and they were going to work. The habit had been established via conditioning.
I am honestly so proud of my child and myself for this achievement. He did VERY well on his quarter tests. He's only five years old (almost six). He's suppose to be in kindergarten, but we started him in first grade because he already could read, write, add and subtract. He is very close to completing the next quarter in phonics and mathematics. Every time I see him achieving in his studies I can not help taking credit in my head. (When I was in elementary school, I am not sure how many times I actually gave teachers credit for my learning. I am sure I will never get credit if I do not give it to myself.)
During this first quarter he was supposed to learn just the first three of the Ten Commandments, but I taught him a mnemonic device for all ten. He was too excited about it and learned them all. He also learned many prayers. I bought a book on mnemonic devices for learning about the Catholic faith. It's brilliant. The first thing the book espouses is how can one live a faith one does not know, therefore, we must know and remember as much of the faith as we can.
Some truths about my home school:
1. Sometimes I get impatient with my little students and show it. I don't think this happens in schools.
2. We usually begin home school some time between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. depending on what we have to do in the day and depending on how annoying little sisters are being. We often just have to wait until they are napping to focus. However, this odd hour can mean Alex is munching on his lunch while working. This is not a good combination for when I ask him to read or respond to a question and he has a mouth full of PB&J.
3. Home schooling isn't nearly as fun and magical as my reading explorations led me to believe. "You can have a field trip whenever you want." True, but if you want consistency and completion of your work you can not really take many excursions whenever you want. "You can do art and music every day when public schools are cutting such programs." Yeah, there is a reason they might cut those programs. I am not saying they are not beneficial, but art supplies and instruments are crazy expensive. Let alone the effort you have to put into it.
4. I am wishing we were having more fuzzy moments sitting on the sofa cuddled up in blankets reading stories or doing lessons. I am wishing there were more painting, pasting and colored tissue paper. Alas, I have the rest of the house hold to run, a sixth month old baby who needs nursing and care among other things. But, I hope I can do it all well enough.
5. Sometimes we miss the magic of school plays and pageants and festivals; we miss packing lunches; school friendships; we miss the precious first day of school pictures and the stories they tell when we pick them up. No, every precious moment of their little lives is ours--the good, the bad, the in between. I just hope that in the end that it the price we have paid is more valuable than any earthly treasure. I just pray that our reward is eternal.
6. Kristiana has a preschool work book and she works hard on it everyday. But, let's be honest, I am only pretending to teach her, because I am really focusing on Alex. I kind of dodge in and out of lessons with her. Guess what? She's actually learning a lot, so maybe I ought to straighten up and start teaching her in all those fun tactile preschool ways like I did with Alex.
7. We don't pretend to be perfect, but we do hope and pray for grace.