Friday, June 20, 2014

Investing in Your Children

As people become more and more disenchanted with the public school system, we find a new breed of homeschoolers bringing their children home.

Now, no disrespect to them, I heartily congratulate them on caring enough to remove their loved ones from the influences of evil government, amoral and anti-religious teaching, and dangers of all kinds. But, it just seems to me that some of the flavor has gone.

When I started out, the moms who surrounded me were really "into it." Some of them were using KONOS curriculum and it seemed that there were weekly dress-up parties and costume-making and acting out and adventures. Although I had a more traditional and laid-back approach to teaching, I feel like we were in full-tilt with four days a week of instruction and a fun field trip day with friends every Friday.

I was in homeschooling because I wanted to be near my kids. I wanted to be with them. I wanted them to know they were loved and cherished. I wanted them to be influenced for Christ and His kingdom, away from worldly distractions. So many reasons. Oh, and to be educated. That was certainly on the list somewhere.

But, as I run into new homeschooling moms today, there seems to be a "Yes, I really want my kids to have a good education and I don't think the school system can do that; but how can I do it without really getting involved?" They seek out only curriculum that is fully laid out and "easy." The ideal seems to be one where the kid plugs into something all day and doesn't have to ask mom any questions. Or he is dropped off to co-op classes all day, everyday of the week. (How is that different from school exactly?) And preferably, there is no grading involved or projects or anything that needs mom's time or energy.

Now, I'm lazy myself. And I like using a few things that are online (but never everything). And I've been part of co-ops (nothing wrong with them). And I must admit that I like "easy-to-use" ('cause who likes "hard-to-use"?). But, when those don't work out the way I want exactly, I do need to jump in and help, tutor, or make adjustments. For instance, I sometimes sit next to my son while he is doing math on ALEKS, and I have a whiteboard and a dry-erase marker and I demonstrate how to do problems as he goes along. Doing the program by himself just didn't work the way I hoped (because of him, not the program). When Logic of English taught a few things "backwards" (for our thinking), I had to restructure, re-teach, and pray for understanding.

I am almost always there, and mostly available, even though my kids are in high school.  They can do a lot on their own, but we still have discussions about things. I still read to them. I still want to be near them and see how they are doing.

In the school system, we'd say we don't want the child to "fall through the cracks." That can happen in homeschooling too. As educators of our own children, we have to step in when there is a question or a problem and not get freaked out that the child didn't learn the first time in the first way the material was presented.

And, most importantly, if we are going to influence our children for Christ, they must see us and hear from us. We can't manage from the other room, with a phone curved over our ear, our eyes on the TV, and our hands in the dish soap at all hours. How can we use their academic education as a spring-board to learning about God and His creation if we have no idea what they've been "learning" all day?

Homeschooling requires a commitment. If you aren't committed to spending some quality and quantity time with your child, then when the first road-bump hits, you'll be tempted to literally throw him back on the bus. Invest your time and energy, and I think you will more likely to be willing to stay true to the path you have chosen or to which you have been called.

Now, the irony of this article will be that the moms who aren't super-involved probably won't read it and those that are will feel guilt and condemnation although they are already doing all they should. So, don't do that to yourself. Prayerfully consider whether you are investing the proper amount of time with your child and let the Holy Spirit's response be your final answer.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Galatians 6:9

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