December 14, 2006

Holiday Encouragement For Homeschool Moms

Our plans for finishing our unit before vacation are fading fast. When I get behind on plans, I tend to start feeling like a big ZERO. I am my own worst critic. I have opted to do some much needed reorganization in our bedroom (preparing things to go to storage), taxes and paperwork, Christmas cards, and enjoying time with Daddy for his birthday... rather than do our previously planned two-weeks-worth of "Frontiersmen and Indians". Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I kicking myself? Yes. Do I feel like I'm way behind? Yes. I've been homeschooling more than four years now (this is our fifth), and I still have these days when I want to pull all my hair out wonder if we will ever get ahead of the game.

Usually, when I have these "down" moments, the Lord will come along and pick me up. He will dust me off and set me on the level path again. Sometimes it is just the gentle reminder from my kids that we haven't started the day with a prayer (big time no-no for me since that is when things all start to unravel). Sometimes it is a refreshing holiday/vacation day or just a weekend day off that inspires me to return to the next school week with renewed enthusiasm. Sometimes God picks me up through a perfectly timed event that "falls into our lap"... fitting in to our scheduled "unit" as if it was custom-created by God himself. I call these "God-Moments" or "God Smiles". One such "God Smile" was the time we were studying birds and an entire flock of pigeons landed on our picnic table at the park and ate out of our hands. It was one of those brief times that you just awe at how cool it is to be "in the center of the universe" - loved by the Creator.

Yesterday's pick me up came just at the right time. I've been beating myself up over not being able to "get it all done". I guess you would call that the "Super-mom syndrome". I had set the alarm on my phone to remind me to get to church last night. I tend to forget what day it is when Daddy works on weekends and evenings; so a friendly cell-phone alarm is always welcome. The kids and I went to class and came home afterwards to munch on our Christmas chocolate and sweets that were given out by their teachers. I got a phone call from my children's Bible class teacher about an hour after we got home. I was worried that something was wrong since she has never called before.

It so happens that their Wednesday night Bible teacher is also the coordinator of my church's children's program. She was calling to tell me that she wants me to help teach the first and second grade classes on Wednesday nights. She went on and on about how well behaved my kids were. She said they were "just so smart", "such a joy", "always welcome in her class", "so kind to each other", "quick to find their Bible verses", "very helpful", "sweet kids", etc. She told me that she was so amazed that my 7 year old was reading as well as another boy in her fourth grade class who is an accelerated fourth grader (Morgan attended class with her brother last night). She said that she felt like I would be such a great teacher because I had 'obviously done so well' with my own kids... and that she could "tell they were homeschooled".

I was floored. I wonder what she would think if she knew that I yelled at the kids and lost it when they were fighting with each other earlier yesterday. Or what if she knew that I actually spanked them for kicking each other over a toy the day before (and did it while I was angry). What if she knew about us not being able to accomplish more than the bare minimum with school for the last three days.... or the pile of laundry on my bed and dust all over my furniture? Holy cow! What if she finds out that lately I've wanted to crawl into bed and whine about how awful I am doing at homeschool... how badly I wish I had another month before the holidays so I could get back on "schedule". I DID let her know that I certainly don't deserve any credit for my kids turning out good. God makes food for multitudes with my little fish and loaves... it truly is a miracle that my worst efforts and worst moments can be added together to make kids as great as mine are. That, folks, is the real secret to success in homeschooling. A simple three letter word: G.O.D.

I guess after thinking it over, I wasn't realizing that even though I have my "down" days (and sometimes days turn into weeks!)... that my children are learning anyway. The great thing is that they are not only learning about: Kentucky used to be called "Caintuck" by the frontiersmen. Daniel Boon used to call his riffle "Old Tick-Licker". Santa Anna was defeated in San Jacinto by Houston's Army. Sam Houston's nickname was 'The Raven' (and he almost ran against Lincoln for president). the British governor of Detroit (Henry Hamilton) sent Indians in to frontier villages to scalp Americans. some of the goldminers would hunt the Chinese people and cut their braided hair off. the Trail of Tears was over 800 miles long and most Cherokee walked the entire length of it. Sam Houston, Noah Webster, John Adams and Dave Crockett tried to defend Indian rights against greedy settlers. the 49ers were the eighty-thousand people to reach California during the gold rush in 1849.
Those things are important. Academics are certainly important. But really, when all is said and done, I don't want just smart kids. I want godly kids... kids who's character sets them apart. Kids that grow up to be gentlemen and ladies... the kind of people who will shine for Christ in this dark world.

God reminded me last night that it is really not me that is doing the work in this 'home-school'. It is all Him. My kids are smart and good - despite my flaws and my holiday failures. I was reminded that if I just put it all in His hands and quit trying to do it all on my own strength... everything is going to come out OK. I know it will. If my kids are this great after five years at home with their IMPERFECT mama teaching them, I know I can trust Him to keep us going in the right direction in the future.

So here I am, after a well-timed pat on the back... feeling just as "behind", but somehow much better anyway. I know my kids are going to be OK - even if we have ditched our lesson plans and have taken an extra week of vacation over the holidays. After all, there are plenty of great lessons you can learn during the Christmas season that are from a much more important history book.

I am not sure why I decided to type this message out today. I have a million things to get done before we leave town next Tuesday. I am planning to do a '12 Days of Christmas' theme over the holidays and simplify my posts down to a photo with a caption while I'm away. I don't want to miss all that precious time with friends and family. I hope you'll understand!

I hope your Christmas as merry and bright... and that God shines His favor on you and yours this holiday season and for all of 2007.

Buzz Words: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Sprittibee said...

No problem... you know, gotta justify being such a ZERO, eh?! ;)

No... I really meant it.

Enjoy your break and refresh yourself for the next semester!


Anonymous said...

Absolutely.....this is the proof in the pudding we all hope to hear!

Yay! Merry Christmas to you as well and enjoy your little sabbatical.

Erin said...

Posts like this are a "God Smile" to me.
I can't handle seeing too many lists from other people. Especially when they're all crossed of and DONE. My lists... they're never done. Ever. And I begin to feel. very. small. in. comparison.

And when that happens, God is right there reminding me that we get SO much more learning done in our school day than the average public/private schooler. And so much more of it STICKS! Because we have relationship, reiteration, life learning, reinforcement, discussion, repetition, pigeons landing on our table right in front of us ;), etc. etc. I think my kids are so smart, and such better THINKERS than some of their p.s. counterparts, just because they get a chance to exercise their brains an let all that learning breathe.

Therefore, the long and lovely break between Thanksgiving and New Year's is not going to harm us. We're relaxing and letting all the learning from the fall semester percolate while we gear up for the Spring. KONOS Inquisitiveness, BTW.

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Lindsey. I think your blog title really says it all! ;)

Erin - Hey, don't feel bad about crossed out lists. Some of us take longer than others to get them crossed out. If you are anything like me, you tend to overestimate your ability to get things done - hence giving yourself a list that is WAY too hard to ever complete. I have spoken with many educational gurus who have told me that giving a child a list they CAN complete is very important. My kids would be the first to admit that we have NEVER completed a list that Mommy makes because Mommy tends to think that building an entire rocket while learning astrophysics, baking a rocket cake, taking a field trip to NASA, sewing an astronaut suit, reading 50 library books about the moon, and making a solar system model are all things you can do in a single sitting between 2-4 on Saturday. I mean, really!

So, needless to say, I am re-evaluating my list-making. I think one of my "resolutions" this year should be to make do-able lists that we can all PAT OURSELVES ON THE BACK FOR COMPLETING. I read some of the Charlotte Mason/Classical blogger posts and freak out when I hear about how little 9 year old Johnny can read Latin and Greek, sing in Hebrew, recite Psalm 119 in its entirety from memory, rattle off all of the master painters/composers and where they were born, cook a Lebanese meal from scratch (even making their own yogurt), build a model of the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks, tell you the Latin phyla of every plant in their state, nurse a raccoon to health and return it to the wild, and dye you a sweater using only natural herbs and berries (including knitting it)... you get my drift. Who are these people? I must have missed a gene somewhere that they all got. I just am NOT that cool. I can't even make home-made bread without a breadmaker. And my breadmaker is in storage with three years worth of dust on it.

Hmph. Bahumbug. ;)

Sorry. I thought I was going to end that with some encouragement... but it seems I've just helped you wallow in your pity. Hey - misery loves company, eh?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this. I am also my worst critic. If every lesson isn't checked off, I worry my kids will be the village idiots.
When school is completed for the day I have a list a mile long of chores I think should get done. I'm worn out and I'm missing out on the joy of all of this- homeschooling, my new house, the season, the beautiful weather...
Anyway, I know I should be so down on myself. Thanks for the reminder.

Sprittibee said...

You're most welcome, Homeschool Mama. ;) Smile and enjoy December!

jennyonthespot said...

I'm glad I stumled back here - this was just ehat I needed to read. I have been so down about hw far behind we are falling in school - plus everything else... I don't want others to feel as I do much of the time, but it sure is comforting to know that I am not the only person on earth with these battles... thanks for taking time that you don't necessariily have to share...

Rebecca said...

I was so blessed by this post as well. I'm sorry I'm coming to it a little late! I loved what you wrote about God using your loaves & fishes to make a miracle out of your children. Your words are just what this first-year-homeschooling mama needed to hear.


Anonymous said...

It must just be the time of year! I'm feeling the same way.
What a blessing that the teacher called to share that with you.
God knew you needed that.


Sprittibee said...

Jenny - Hope that your holidays went well and that you are feeling a surge of back-to-school energy and enthusiasm!

Rebecca - Thanks for the sweet comment. I'm quite sure it was the holy spirit speaking the words of fishes and loaves. Sometimes I read back through things and wonder how in the world they could have come from me. I look at my kids the same way! They seem so ABOVE my level as little people... and I wonder how with so little, God has multiplied my efforts so much!

Lizzie - Yes, I was thankful that the teacher called to tell me. It is always nice to hear good things about your kids.



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