Friday, May 24, 2013

Schooling Choices

For years, I have wrestled with the public school system. Despite passionate teachers who try their hardest to make learning fun, and despite dispassionate teachers who really don't care, the system is broken at a much more fundamental place than individual teachers can fix.

I first wrote about my struggles with schooling here:   which I wrote quite awhile ago! 

Having my eldest boy enter kindergarten this year has been a heavy weight on my heart this year. He is a quick learner, loves investigating, loves new books, digging into new subjects. He is sensitive, very very much so. He has a great attention span when he's interested in something, but a pretty short one when he's not so interested. A few weeks ago, we found out that his kindergarten class is estimated to be 27 students.... Schools are just not cut out for this five year old.

I looked into private schools, a magnet school option, the public school and homeschooling. My dad called my pros and cons lists "Paralysis of Analysis"  funny and totally true! He said that being paralyzed by fear is worse than choosing the "wrong" choice.

I finally approached my husband, begging for his rational guidance and support in this decision.

So, after consideration, lots and lots of research, and deep considerate prayer, we've decided to homeschool D. I'm not sure if we will continue this for 1 year, or 5 years, or 10 years, I'm not sure yet if I'll school C at home as well, or eventually bring K home. One year at a time. I'm excited to document this next journey in our family. Our struggles, and our many, many joys.  K has already been asking me if I can homeschool her on weekends :-)

My daughter is in 1st grade in the public school and generally, her disposition is pretty happy-go-lucky. She gets lots of opportunities for one on one learning because of her learning disabilities, and a lot of opportunities for practice with peer interaction. So I certainly don't write this to say that no child can grow and benefit from public school. Obviously my husband is another testament that many public schooled kids go on to do wonderfully!

But I will say this. I see a terrifying trend in busy, busy parents. They expect the teachers, the schools, their daycares to raise their children. To love their children. To grow their children. It's scary to me that our culture just assumes that sending your child away for 8 hours each day is healthy and that the parent's influence at the end of the day is very minimally necessary.

Homeschooling can be a great choice. Public schools can be a great choice, and so can private schools.  But they can also be terrible.

Whatever choice your family makes, I strongly believe that every parent should be their child's primary teacher. Their biggest supporter. Their most important influence.  If that's not the case, well, then it really doesn't matter what schooling choice you're making.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Real Man

On Mother's Day, I often have pretty lofty expectations. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty decent mom. I devote most of my energy to my family. Loving on them, growing them, cleaning up after them.

On most Mother's Days, I find myself feeling as though I've earned some accolades, some attention, some extra spoiling even. I think secretly (or not so secretly!) most mothers would agree with that! Sadly, I hear equally as many disappointing Mother's Day stories as I hear great ones. Stories of children who are lost, stories of mothers who are gone, complaints by women who don't think their husbands notice how hard they work. But today, I am consciously choosing a different path. A much more pleasant path, and unfortunately, the road less traveled.

The days that I feel better than decent, the days that I feel great (or at least borderline great) are the days that I am focused on enjoying my kids. These are the days that I hope that they remember. These are the days I choose to meditate on when we are mid-tantrum, or in the middle of a two hour long bedtime process...

And these days are a credit to the man that is always standing beside me. I could not be a mother worth celebrating without him. I would not be a mother that I was proud to have become if not for his encouragement, strength, and steadfastness.

On this Mother's Day, while my husband is off farming, and I am alone with the three kids, I am choosing happiness. I am choosing thankfulness. A person doesn't deserve joy, they choose it. This day is an offering to my husband, who is a real man, and the reason I can be a good mother.

My husband is not perfect, I don't want anyone reading this, rolling their eyes at me, or my family, thinking that I'm living in some sort of alternate universe where my husband rubs my feet and recites poetry to me (he'd literally die before that happened) But he is Godly. He is faithful. He is Loving. He is Steadfast. He is Gentle. These aren't just nice qualities, these are instructions By God himself (1 Timothy 6:11)  And who am I to complain that it isn't enough?? These are not small things. These are everything.

On this Mother's Day, if I am a mother worth celebrating, then I have to take the time to thank my husband for being a real man, for being a man after God's own heart, and for allowing me to be a woman and mother of value.