Year two complete. Good thing is Julia still likes me and I am in for another year--excited, actually. I am grateful to say, we finished 1st grade. I remember hearing a joke a while back—something like, you know you are a home schooler when someone asks you what grade your children are in and, to you, there really isn’t a clear cut answer. You find yourself thinking, “Hmmm….. she did some ___ grade work, but we haven’t started ____ that some other kids did.” That’s me. For this season, I am a home schooler and I am such a newbie. However, one thing I am beginning to figure out, as long as the Lord leads me to do this, I will always feel like a newbie because every year is so different. Once you feel you have ironed out the learning curve, it kinks up again. We will always have new material to cover and new books to read. Their minds will be constantly maturing while mine will be slowly deteriorating. Our relationships will look different at various ages. Preferences will change. Moods will swing. They will become more and more independent and I will be needed less and less. What worked for Julia may not work for Brighton. It is a constant evaluation, a moving target, and a perfect platform for lots of prayer.
The love that I have for getting to do school at home will always be for the same reason. Nothing trumps the time I have with Julia (and next year B). I believe this will be the resounding reward each year. I have memories of significant conversations that, I have to wonder, would I have ever gotten to enjoy them had I not said “yes” to this mysterious, if not strange, way of educating children? Would I know when too much is too much? Would I know she likes a challenge—even if she balks at it, even if it is more than I think she can handle? Would I know she releases stress in the purest of forms? Would I know that “time management” isn’t her strong suit? Would I be able to pick out an armful of books that I know will cause her to drop everything and begin reading immediately? Would I know that I am raising a daughter who I may one day describe as a “dreamer”? Would I know her spelling tendencies with certain sounds? Would I know that she blooms like a hibiscus in June with a little back rub and some affirming words? Would I know how much of her thoughts are consumed with her friends who don’t know Christ? Of course, I cherish all that I am learning about her and have to say, I am thankful it is me who has discovered these things and not someone else. God knew the blessing these things would be to this Mom. Furthermore, in His sovereignty, He knew that Julia needed a mother who knew her in a different sort of way.
On to more practical things, just like last year, it was the books that we enjoyed the most. There were books we read that neither one of us will ever forget. Times that I couldn’t keep reading just so I wouldn’t lose it only to look over and see the tears falling from her brown eyes. Times that we laughed at the rabbit trails of dialogue between a brother and sister- mostly because it sounded so familiar. Times I had to stop reading all together because I realized it was too much information. Times we had to set the book down and wonder at the details of the smallest creatures of God’s handiwork. Times we had to literally run out the door to pick up B, because we succumbed to “one more chapter”. Times we stopped and re-read just so we could enjoy the part one more time. Times we didn’t want the book to end because we enjoyed the family so much. This year, the reading really clicked for her. I loved walking into a room seeing Julia's hands and attention wrapped around a book of her own. I think I can safely say, if we didn’t read, I don’t think we would enjoy school at home. It is the reward of the morning for both of us after pluses, minuses, graphs, maps and 2 letter phonograms!
It seems like we took less field trips this year which is neither good nor bad but we saw Charlotte’s Web and Frog and Toad All Year Long at Casa Manana, Madeline’s Christmas at the Dallas Children’s Theatre. We spent some “Christmastime” in the 1800’s in Dallas Heritage Village experiencing a colonial atmosphere decorating the school house with paper chains, visiting the blacksmith, the print shop, the potter and the general store where the popular items were bamboo flutes and tiny clothespin dolls. We survived the Pilgrim Party with only minimal blood shed with what seemed like 100 children, but they sure did look cute in their Pilgrim and Indian attire. During Christmas break, Julia and her friends performed a casual concert for the parents. Some recited poetry or Scripture and some played newly learned pieces on the piano and miniature violins. And how could I forget, Mr. Slim Goodbody at Will Rogers! You need to see this guy dance around in his veins, organs and bones body suit----an experience you won’t forget!
I think the best thing we added this spring was nature journaling which is simply sitting, feeling, observing and recording sights, sounds, textures and smells. Both Julia and Brighton enjoyed seeing how things literally transformed around us in the short span of a month. We recorded these things in a book and drew the things we found and saw. Julia drew flowers, ferns and bugs and Brighton tended to draw rocks………..and more rocks. It became something I anticipated and I found myself doing it without Julia and Brighton a time or two.
My rookie season starts all over again this fall as we add Brighton and all his wonderful boyness to the mix. During our last couple of months of school, I tried to remind Juila daily that next year our school “twosome” would become a “threesome” and that the Lord would help us all figure out how to learn and have fun together. I am certain the learning experience will better us all if for no other reason than we will talk to our Father more- our perfect Parent and Teacher.
Home schooling was never my idea and definitely no desire I ever had until He led me to do it. Now, my enthusiasm for it is strictly God given and I thank Him often for it. I can’t imagine tackling this for any reason other than He put it on my heart in a way I couldn’t say “yes” to anything else. I don’t know how long He will ask me to do it. I don’t need to know that right now, but I do know that one day when I look back on my parenting years, this season will shine brightly in my memory.
Next year's class......