Home grown and organic, another bushelful
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Over and over, as I would seek the Lord in prayer regarding our home schooling, this is the verse that would come to mind. It made no (read: Z.E.R.O.) sense to me. What did their spiritual training have to do with how I was to be “doing” home school? I was SO frustrated.
When I was young, my mother who LOVED Cottonwood trees. She loved that they sounded like rain falling, when the breeze blew. One day, while we were out for a walk at a friend’s house, she saw a sapling sitting there in the middle of no where. Mom and her friend dug the little critter up and brought it home to reside in our back yard.
Now, my father worked for IBM at the time when computers were the size of football fields, required key punch cards and horrendously long hours in order to tame them. He was rarely home, so Mom tried to plant it herself. My grandfather took one look at it and laughed. You see, this poor little tree had been out in the middle of a cow pasture and the wind had blown it into an odd angle as it grew. Rather than staking it (which she likely should have) Mom let it grow as it was. And grow it did. The last time I was at that house – some 15 yrs ago, it was HUGE and it was still CROOKED!
Every time I heard that verse in my prayer closet, I thought of Mom’s funny little tree in the back yard. What could my children’s education and Mom’s pathetic Cottonwood have in common? After many months of crying out and begging the Lord for direction, He spoke. He began to teach me of my children. He gave me eyes to see and ears to hear who they were. The children would do something and He would say, “Did you see that?” Day in and day out, for over a year, I was in the classroom of my children. I had quite the education to glean. I was to train them up – to home school them – according to the bent that He had placed there, but first I had to learn to see it.
Gracious as He is, Father let me leave that season and try to put our homeschool together based on what I had learned. I did okay for a while. Then, as I continued to try and create the perfect schooling, I began to squeeze the life out of it. (AGAIN) The more programs I sought to implement, the more stressed I became, the more rigid I became and the more I forgot all that I had learned in the classroom of my children.
Enter stage left, from the wings….a pregnancy at 43. I, with all seriousness, was CERTAIN that I was in the beginning stages of menopause. I didn’t know too many people who had gotten pregnant at 43 and besides, we had given away everything. 🙄 Certain that if the Lord was blessing us with a new baby at this stage in our life, they would just fit right into whatever we, as a family, were already doing. Surely they would be our most content and easily molded baby yet. And those are the EXACT words that I would use to describe Squish, content and easily molded….until of course she was born, then they became antithetical to her character.
At first, in spite of her colicky, grumpy self, we managed to hold it all together, for a while….then began the slow decline into chaos. I remember one night, just sitting in the living room, looking at what should have been a really good school day……SHOULD have been. We all got up on time. We had Bible reading at breakfast, the baby took a morning nap, everyone had clean underwear on, we got our school work done, we didn’t have a single time during the day when someone was stranded on the toilet screaming for another roll, no fights, dinner was ready within a 1/2 hr of the time it should have been – and it wasn’t burned – it was just a really good day. So, what happened? I had screamed, I had yelled, I had pushed and pulled my family throughout the entire day. I was exhausted, the kids were thrilled to go to bed and get away from me and there I sat, holding a grumpy baby, granted, I DID have clean undies on, but still it was not a pretty sight.
That’s when I realized that in order for me to keep my children’s hearts and to keep their eyes focused on the Lord, our homeschooling had to be organic. It needed to be a natural part of our day. Our discussions of books needed to flow out of relationship and not a Q & A designed by a textbook designer. Our science experiments needed to flow out of worship and delight of the Creation and the Creator. Our life needed to be our classroom and not our school books.
Now, this sounds like “unschooling” to many people – and it isn’t really….but it really isn’t like anything else that I can put a name to, either. It’s just Clark school. You see, it’s part Charlotte Mason, because we enjoy reading together. It’s part unschooling, because there are times I release the kids to go study something that they simply can’t wait to study. It’s part discipleship studies because we read things together and discuss them. It’s personal, because no longer are we all doing the same thing, each child has time during their day to work on skills/learning that is geared toward their gifts, toward their goals, toward their God given destiny. It’s self directed, because there are times in our day where they have given assignments and we expect them to complete their own work, employing their own self discipline and time management skills. But most of all it’s organic. AND, it’s easy for me to employ. (YES!!)
It’s real, it’s natural and it’s not about a program. It’s focused on who God has created my kiddos to be. It’s about preparing them to take dominion over whatever part of Creation that Father has planned for them. It’s about me, remaining pliant and attentive to Father. It’s about God, glorifying Himself in our midst.
Because of this, because my eyes are off the “agenda,” the goals are different. No longer am I screaming and demanding that the kids do x# of pages of math in a day. Yes, they have math – but now the issue is, “Do you understand it?” and not “Did you get that page done?” It’s not about conquering math. It’s about learning more of God, through their math. For the first time, TRULY, our books are our tools. They are servants to me, not I to them. My perfectionism has been…okay, full disclosure is BEING destroyed in this arena, because it has so much less to do with MY control.
Please don’t misunderstand, there are still days that I look back to “Egypt” and I see regulated lesson plans and structure to the nth degree (not that we have no structure or not that we don’t have lesson plans) and my legalistic heart longs for that. Furthermore, I do not presume that what we’re doing would fit another family. No other family has the components that mine does. (Most other families have some semblance of normalcy to them)
As for me and my house, this is how we will serve the Lord! I pray that Father would allow you to find the perfect plan for your household, as well. And as He does, I pray that He will give you the courage to leave Egypt and walk in the way that He has for you. There is SUCH fruit there – so much joy and delight in being together, rather than doing school together. (If that makes any sense.)
(Sorry this ended up so long…again. No doubt it will happen another time, as well.) 🙂