homeschooling and comparison

4 years ago

 {This is not about why anybody should homeschool, nor is it a manifesto for guilt trips. I'm joining Jennifer Lee in the "Love Idol" movement as we contemplate our need for approval for Lent.} "I could never do that," is what I told my friend 15 years ago inside the Chapel sanctuary. We had congregated after our multi-denominational service while stationed in a small German town overseas. Her family was the first homeschoolers I'd met, in real life. Before that, I'd only heard about homeschooling. So when I finally knew someone who did, without blinking an eye, I compared myself and decided I didn't measure up. I wasn't even deterred when my friend steadied her eyes at me and replied, "That's what I used to say too." 

Funny how that comes back to haunt me. 

Not everyone can homeschool, or wants too, or should, or is financially able too. If not for desperation, I would not either. But eventually I did, because my son's need were greater than my fear or comparison. 

That was over five years ago and you'd think that once I finally did homeschool, I had conquered the comparison and kicked it in the teeth. But even so, there are days that homeschooling feels like a compound fracture between parent and teacher. There are times where failure winks a flirty eye at you. Fear reappears, sliding in beside you, a slithery arm around your shoulders, reminding you how you're good ol' friends. 

But you keep going. You study, learn, seek new ideas, and gather materials. And not just in ways of curriculum such as reading, spelling, and math. You study your children. 

On your good days you remember, you're a pupil. You're here to learn as much about your children as you are about curriculums. You discover learning styles only to find out that your oldest son, who frustrates you the most, is a Kinesthetic and Audio learner which is quite the opposite direction of you. There are "classroom" activities through creative ideas like naming your hodge-podge chickens after Kings and Queens of England because that's what you're currently studying in History. Or by making old window screens into "chain mail" to wear like a Knight ready for battle. You sit at their feet while they struggle and cry over long division. You begin to see your children as books needing to be read, so you savor every crossed "t" and dotted "i". 

But then there are bad days like the skirmish over improper fractions. Or when reading is impaled with whining, complaining, and a few choice words. And you decide if anyone deserves a "F", it'd be the teacher, but most importantly, it'd be the parent too as you roll that "F" into a double whammy. All of sudden your diligent studies of your children, your patience, and hard work to understand their hearts, goes to the wayside as you lift your eyes up and see how Susie Q is doing school down the street. You hang around Lilly Mae's kids quiet kids who sit like statutes, while yours are jumping over furniture to grab a 'dark Knight' because they're in the middle of a kingdom-ly battle. 

You begin, again, grading yourself on the sliding scale of comparison, the same scale that was with you at your "never could." Comparison is not prejudiced by our choices nor does it pick favorites. It just is. And if it can happen to us, it can happen to our kids too. If we're teaching them, then what are they learning? 

Maybe if we realized there'll be days full of backward-ness, then we'd let ourselves off the hook. 

Lent comes and go. I'm not much of a liturgist, though some years I tried. There's so many ways to practice it, I know. For me, this year's Lent won't be about giving up, or sacrifice, or silence. This year it'll be about giving in, taking up, and noise. Lots of {boy} noise

As a teacher, you're always adding to the curriculum, enhancing the math with games or science with the Discovery Channel. In homeschool, the classroom is no longer confined between the hours of 8am-3pm. School is all day, around us. You become living learning sponges, finding ways to experience our learning and places to launch off creative avenues. You're bug seekers, pioneers at the Gold Rush, tree identifiers, herpetologists, Lords and Ladies, astronauts, as you explore imaginations as wild as an untamed west. And in the same way, we are all homeschooled. No one escapes the education of life. 

Perhaps it's time to enhance our curriculum. If we, the parent, grasped our pre-approval in God then we'd need less of man's, even lesser of comparison, and we'd have more resources for teaching our kids.







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