When Kevin and I first began considering our children’s education (after Molly Kate was born), I decided to read “The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. I had always assumed that if we were still living in Louisville when it was time to begin schooling our children that I wouldn’t really have a choice but to home school because of our finances. After reading “The Well Trained Mind,” I was actually encouraged by the classical model to education and excited about the opportunity to teach my children. While my public school education wasn’t a horrible one, I certainly was not taught to love learning. I also never really grasped how all the subjects that I was studying in school really fit together. I just sat in class, memorized a bunch of facts, took tests and moved forward with A’s and B’s, but never really truly learning. Had I been asked to think through what I was being taught, organize that information and then form my own opinions and arguments, I would have been utterly lost! Recognizing what was lacking in my own education, I began to dream of how wonderful it would be teach my children following the classical model, which is both coherent and systematic, but most importantly (to me), aids the student in developing a thirst and love of learning. And why would I want my children to have a thirst for learning? Certainly not so they can excel in the workplace one day or become neurosurgeons (though those are perfectly fine goals). But ultimately, I want my children to love learning so that they will love devoting their lives to learning the Word of God and desire to ever grow in their knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ.
Okay, so let’s fast forward a couple of years and land in 2010, when I gained three children (two adopted) in a matter of months and then had no choice (remember, I had assumed this a long time ago!) but to begin schooling my oldest at home. By October, my envisioned dreams of classical home education had flown the coop and most days I was just trying get through the hour and a half it required to do school without yelling at anyone. Our scenario made it almost impossible to even get through five minutes of a lesson without an interruption. Miles had a poopy diaper. Madden woke up from his nap and was screaming crying. Molly Kate really wanted to do school as well, but needed much more help and hands-on instruction. I know Mikias was also about to lose his mind. Every night I would beg Kevin to help me figure out another way. We both knew there wasn’t another option right then, so he would remind me of our schooling motto “Year by year, child by child.” Basically, that we weren’t committing to 12 years of homeschooling per child…by next year, we might be in an entirely different situation so what I was experiencing then wasn’t permanent. That helped…well, a little!
But you know what? What I was experiencing wasn’t permanent and it changed dramatically within a few weeks. By December, Madden was nearing six months and his naps finally became much more consistent. There were now a whole two hours in the morning when he was asleep and I could easily teach Mikias without worrying about my baby. And Miles’ was more adjusted to our morning routine, so instead of me feeling like I was banishing him to his room during school time, he began to happily head to his room for a Barney or Baby Einstein dvd and grab some books for time on his bed. Molly Kate, having sat in the kitchen during school for months, began doing a lot of Mikias’ daily math routine with him…she now daily counts to 100, counts backwards from 12, helps tell the time, the day of the week and so forth. I can usually help her through a page or two in an age-appropriate workbook and then she’s ready to join Miles in watching a dvd. During that time, Mikias can finish up his math and then he and I tackle reading. It took some time (and a lot of tears and prayer on my part) but we have finally gotten into a rhythm of schooling at home and I am (dare I say it?) really enjoying it!
I don’t know how long we’ll commit to homeschooling. But I do know that I am really grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to train and teach my little people. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to check out a book from the library yesterday and sit on the couch with everyone and have Mikias read the whole thing by himself. Remember, he didn’t know but about three English words ten months ago and now he is reading an entire book to his family. How sad I would have been to miss the sense of accomplishment and sheer joy Molly Kate experienced the first time she was able to count all the way to 100 with Mikias! At this point, I’m not sure I can imagine turning this role over to someone else. Most importantly, because I spend all day every day with my children, I have ample opportunities to speak with them about the Lord. This month the children (well Mikias and Molly Kate) memorized Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” When you read on, Moses commands parents to teach Scripture diligently to their children and talk about the Word all the time (“when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up”). When your children are with you as you sit in your house and walk by the way (as opposed to being away at school for long hours each day), then you are never rushed for time to talk about and teach the Bible. And the Bible isn’t compartmentalized into something we just talk about during our morning and evening devotions or on Sundays. All of our days are sprinkled through and through with God’s Word. I love that.
Again, year by year and child by child, but for now, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.