Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Unspoken Homeschool Sin

I adore my children. I believe they were tailored and created to be my children (not simply because I gave birth to them, but because the Creator saw fit for them to be raised in this family). That being stated, I also know that because they are my children, I feel more stress and pressure to make sure they are raised properly than, say, the kids down the street. I certainly care about the kids down the street (remember Leviticus 19:18? I struggle, but I try...), but my real investment is not in those kids, but my own.

So I chose to homeschool like millions of other families. I know in the core of my being that this is the path that the Lord has set for me and that my little guys will benefit greatly from it. However...

When I started this journey I had a ton of confidence. I loved my curriculum, I had every box checked, I knew for certain that my children would at the very least pilot a space shuttle thanks to their homeschool experience and extremely dedicated mother. Then reality hit (I believe it was day 2 of Kindergarten with my oldest?); these were not little robots I was programming with my curriculum and manuals, they were individual creatures and this was not going to be as cut and dry as I had thought.

Case in point. Today we had a great lunch and since they all ate so well I allowed them to have a frozen fudge bar for dessert. K.Z., my 7 year old son ate his efficiently and quickly, leaving no trace of evidence behind. C'sa, the 3 year old ate hers with the typical telltale signs of fudge around her mouth, but perfectly clean hands. Xena the 5 year old however, had melted fudge bar on her mouth, hands, forearms and shoulder. Three kids, the same dessert and three different results. Just like life.

Here is where I believe a lot of homeschoolers fall into a dangerous practice. I am the queen of this behavior. We see other homeschoolers' schedules, curriculum choices and extra curricular activities and we strive to be just like them in our experiences. We want to keep up with the "Einsteins" and measure ourselves against them in lieu of measuring ourselves against holy scripture. We begin to question the routes we have taken, whether or not their curriculum is better, if they have learned how to read by a certain age, etc. Isn't this idolatry?

There may be no idol carved from wood on the mantle we are bowing down to nor calf of gold, but we are allowing Satan to fill our minds with doubts and fears about our abilities and paths. We strive to be like them instead of turning out hearts and minds toward the Kingdom.

I am in no way saying that getting advice or checking out a friend's curriculum is a bad thing. I would have been lost had it not been for my long time friend The Tutor when I started my journey. I cherished her advice and listened to her opinion and in the end wound up using a lot of what she preferred. Without her, Ruth Beechick and a lot of books I would have never known where to start.

I also have had the opportunity to let another dear friend with two young kindergarteners look through the many math curriculums I had chosen and changed in the last three years. Getting opinions and advice is not what I am talking about. Proverbs 19:20 says, "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise."

Right after that Proverbs goes on to say, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."

This is what we need to listen to. The Lord's plan for our children's lives. We certainly are not privy to every detail, but He has given us instinct and the ability to seek out His will. For three years now I have poured over others' posted school schedules and manners of teaching and have filled my head with more and more clutter. When do I start Latin? Do they really need Greek? German? Spanish? Should I use phonics or DISTAR? A Beka or WTM? When do I start cursive? Charlotte Mason? Traditional? Trivium? Boxed curriculum or pieced together? Homeschool Co-op? How many hours should my school day last? The list goes on and on.

We do this because we want the very best for our children. But on whom are we relying? Friends with experience or the One who knitted our children together in the womb and knew them by name before the world was even created? It's time to stop idolizing the Einsteins and start getting to know the children that we have been blessed with and them educating them accordingly.


TheTutor said...

Amen, amen and amen!

And what's even scarier than the first time you verge off the path set before you by a trusted friend or book? The first time you sit down with two of your children for a specific subject (in our case math) and they are in different books and you have to teach them the exact same topics two completely different ways.

Praise the Lord for Grace! (I've needed a lot of it!)


Jamie said...

WOW, that was awesome!!!! How true it is. I had to chuckle at your 5 year old...mine is the EXACT same;) Maybe its the middle child thing??? Who knows...I know that is not the point;0 Thanks for the reminder and great post. Funny, I used that same verse from Proverbs today in my post;) Great minds think alike!

Carolyn said...

I think that maybe God used what happened yesterday to get your attention. What you blogged was filled with the wisdom only God can give you. I hope your are more at peace now, I know what you said has really helped me.

Renae said...

Thank you for this admonition. I have been thinking the same thing. My post on this very subject is listed at the home school carnival too. Idols come in many forms.

JacciM said...

Really enjoyed your post tonight :) A hearty "amen!" to every word. I post a lot about Charlotte Mason on my blog, but I always want to write some disclaimer at the top of each entry that says something like, "I love CM, but may your family find what YOU love!" I'd hate to pressure readers with my own passions. Your entry was well thought out and I liked the chatty writing style, too :) Thanks for submitting it to the carnival!

BTW, my middle girl would be the exact same way with a fudge bar. She's 5, too :)