Monthly Archives: July 2014

The most important homeschool tip ever

Every day I hear about another family¬† (or five) that is embarking on the adventure of homeschooling. Common Core seems to be the biggest catalyst with the huge influx of new homeschooling families. The most recent homeschooling conference where Richard and I presented was made up of 75%, yes, seventy-five percent, new homeschoolers (meaning they had either been homeschooling for less than a semester or were about to start in the fall). I’ve never seen such huge numbers of new families and it’s so exciting!

But with all these newbies there is a lot of anxiety and a quest for that key that is going to make it work out.

It is a scary thing. I know. Fifteen years ago we made the decision to homeschool our family. We had two very small children at the time (3 years old and a newborn) and I had no idea the road that was ahead of us. I didn’t know then how hard it would be or how wonderful it would be. I didn’t know that Richard and i would end up presenting at homeschool conferences and mentoring other families or that our life’s mission would make itself manifest through the process.

I made lots of mistakes and we had lots of victories, large and small. And now with my oldest just graduated and my other children thriving I feel like I can take a breath and say, yes! This works!

So, what is the biggest lesson I’ve learned through it all? What one piece of advice can I give to those newly homeschooling parents?

It’s a big one so get ready..

MostImportantHomeschoolingTipEver

RELAX

I don’t just mean pretend to relax while freaking out on the inside every day. I mean the king of relaxing that comes through having faith in the process. Yes, chances are you’ve met some weirdos who homeschool and you are terrified that you are going to have kids who can’t form complete sentences. Or bathe. You may worry about grade level and aptitude testing and proving to your mother in law (or husband) that you are good enough to do this. You may worry about what the neighbors think, what your friends think, what your church leaders think, or what the bagger at the grocery store thinks (personal experience). It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to prove your worthiness or your child’s ability to anyone and everyone who decides to ask you why you are homeschooling.

But here’s the deal. Those weirdo homeschoolers would have been weirdo public schoolers, should their parents have chosen that option. They were raised by weird parents who don’t think their kids are weird and that’s okay for them. You are the parent of your children. They aren’t going to suddenly morph into backwoods social misfits just because they spend more time with you than with a bunch of third graders. Honestly, the reverse will be true.

And your mother-in-law, she will just have to deal with it. Chances are she’s going to nag you for a while but as she sees your steadfastness, she will get over it and start to brag to all her friends about how brilliant her grandchildren are.

In other words, those outside pressures are easily dealt with. Be polite, don’t be defensive, and thank people for their advice and interest then do what you were going to do anyway. Which is to . . .

what is it?

That’s right.

RELAX!

Because when it comes down to it, all those nosy people aren’t really the problem. The problem is that voice in the back of your head that asks that ever annoying and painful question.

What if . . . ?

What if I can’t do it? What if I’m not disciplined enough? What if I mess up my kids and they can’t get into a good college? What if they get behind? What if someone is judging me? What if I get lazy? What if it’s too hard? What if I never have another day to myself? Etc.

Those what ifs can drive you crazy. They can make you panic and try to recreate a public school setting at home (worst idea EVER). That leads you to getting way too strict with you children’s time which makes you (and them) overly anxious and frustrated. Nothing good comes from that.

It’ll happen. But if you know it’s coming then you can be prepared for that harshest of critics, the internal one. You can tell him/her that you hear what is being said (try, shouted) but you are going to trust this process.

And a magical thing will happen. You and your children will blossom together. You’ll start out afraid and tentative but as time goes on and you keep at it, you’ll become fearless. You’ll be willing to try new things and fail together gloriously. What better learning experience could there possibly be?

And then, you’ll succeed. And nothing in all the world can compare to the feeling of sitting with your children, being the most bonded, close-knit family unit you can imagine, and being a part of their biggest educational breakthroughs and successes.

RELAX.

You can do this. For centuries people have done this and succeeded gloriously and so will you!

Emily

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Let Freedom Sing

The Fourth of July. I love it. Not like the cute little love that we have for Labor Day barbeques but that big, hearty love we have for Christmas.

There is something about the sun-drenched day that makes my heart soar. I’m sure it goes back to childhood memories and a deep-seated love of country rolled up into a package that makes me giddy thinking about the day. And we celebrate every year by throwing a big party for our family and friends.

I’m not the most pinteresty woman in the world so I don’t have all matching table cloths with wedding-reception worthy centerpieces. I don’t make food in the shape of stars and stripes, all blue, white, and red velvet.

I do prepare LOTS of food, set up LOTS of shade, and invite LOTS of people, but the people and the reason we are there to celebrate are the central figures of our gathering.

Usually we eat, we may play games, we chat, then we have a short patriotic program and watch a family film in the backyard. This year, due to some timing issues and the fact that my youngest was feeling ill, we skipped the movie.

But the program . . . that was the part that made it all worth the work and preparation.

I had invited each of the six families attending to share a song, quote, or story with the group. It wasn’t required, just an invitation.

And just as it was getting dark, we began. A couple of our teenagers who are very talented musicians, played and sang for us. Then our dear friend, a songwriter, sang a gorgeous original song called Freedom’s Our Responsibility. It was so fantastic!

As she was singing, the neighborhood mortars began.

Our family doesn’t do fireworks (we live in a desert, people. A desert that is often plagued by wildfires) but as all our neighbors started into their yearly binge of blowing stuff up, I couldn’t deny the amazing effect it had as the backdrop to our personal form of celebration.

 

flag fireworks

My brother-in-law shared his feelings and pride for his dear sister, a captain in the Air Force, who passed away a few years ago. It was very touching.

Then my little Adventure Boy, my nine-year-old son, recited the famous last paragraph to Patrick Henry’s epic speech. As he quoted, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” with vigor, I found myself tearing up.

Lastly, all forty of us sang our favorite patriotic hymns in four part harmony. My Country Tis of Thee, America The Beautiful, The Battle Hymn of the Republic (with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing backup) and, of course, The Star-Spangled Banner.

The fireworks continued all around us, but in our backyard there was a feeling of deep peace and gratitude. In the midst of the chaos, we were in a sanctuary.

As I looked at our friends and family, these whole, virtuous families that work, worship, play, and serve as family units, and I took in our combined pool of impressive teenagers who were singing along with us, full voice, I had a great swell of hope for the future.

I knew at that moment, that in other backyards and other living rooms, and other family circles, there are those who are going about building up righteous families who will move the cause of liberty.

And I was so grateful to know that we were playing a tiny part in that movement.

Because freedom isn’t won in the supreme court of the voting booth alone, it’s won in the ways we teach our children to respect the flag and all it stands for, to know the history of their country and the sacrifices that brought us here, to believe in the Constitution’s divine origins, and to prepare to defend liberty through their personal choices and community service.

Freedom is won at home, in a backyard, singing patriotic hymns on a hot summer night.

Emily

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