Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How our homeschooling journey began...

I used to be a vegetarian, then I got hungry. I used to be type-A, then I got sick...and tired. I used to be a lot of things, and thankfully I've outgrown a few of them. After all, what good is one more stressed-out, neurotic overachiever to this world? By the grace of God, I've come out of a life careening toward the precipice of self-indulgence and self-destruction to find myself staring straight into something I never thought I'd experience: a satisfying and simple life. It looks nothing like anything I envisioned at the wizened age of 17...or 27...or even 37, for that matter. And all I have to say is, 'Phew! That was close!'.
I'm so glad I didn't get what I thought I wanted. Adulthood, for as long as it really took me to get here, has been an interesting journey. Throughout it I've learned that the things the world says are important--recognition, material indulgence, money and more money, self and more self--are nothing compared to the blessings of a life shaped by a desire to serve those I love. This came first and foremost out of a newfound relationship with Jesus Christ, which opened my eyes to an entirely different way of looking at my life than I'd ever known. It was no longer about living a basically good life, being a basically good person, yet still living essentially for myself based on what I thought 'good' meant. It was about God, and about serving others, first and foremost my husband and kids. I wanted our children to know who they were in the eyes of their Creator, yet every message they were getting from the world and its institutions was absolutely contrary to who He said they were. They were not random wanderers through an impersoanal cosmos, or the product of some chemical blip in the primordial ooze. They were created by the God of the universe, who loved them from the foundations of the world and breathed life into them. They would never get even a hint of that unshakeable truth in any of their textbooks!
It took my husband and I about two years to arrive on the same page where the subject of homeschooling was concerned. I was ready long before he was, and I had to be patient as this good man wrestled with all the standard objections to homeschooling that most people voice at one time or another. Heck, I'd had those same objections, and it was more than a little ironic. You know, 'What about their socialization?' or 'They'll have to get used to the real world sometime'. Oh, and of course there's the mantra of, 'We went to the public schools and we turned out just fine.' All I have to say to that last one is, 'Uh....yeah.' But that's for another post, another time.
But arrive on the same page we finally did, and our journey as a homeschooling family began. Since by nature I am not exactly an organized and structure-minded individual (I can hear my husband laughing hysterically as I say that), I turned to the one person who could tell me just how to make learning joyful, rich and fruitful for all of us, not just my kids. That person was Charlotte Mason, the 19th-century British teacher and educator who truly pioneered the modern homeschooling movement. In my next post, I'll share how this wonderful woman has affected not only our educational plan as a family, but our hearts as well. She has touched mine perhaps more than anyone's, and if you have even an inkling of homeschooling your children, you, too, can benefit from at least incorporating her philosophies and techniques into your plan.