I'm taking a quick break from my regular scheduled programming here (filling up blog posts with tons of Scripture Memory Music), because I have some encouragement I want to share with all of you. We are on a little family vacation with all five kids--including our three sons who are all men now. One turned twenty-two yesterday, one is twenty (almost twenty-one), and one turns twenty in a couple of days. (No, I didn't birth them all that close together, just two--and we have been blessed to become parents through adoption as well). The boys are busy doing grown-up things, like college and army service, so we don't typically get to see them all together.
I'm still in the middle of homeschooling the girls, who are in eighth and eleventh grades, but my time educating our sons has been over for a few years now. Spending this time with all of our children helps me see the fruits of my labor and encourages me to press on, and I wanted to share a couple of things I have seen.
Note: first, I want to make this loud and clear--homeschooling is not a script you can follow to get the outcome you desire. Second, while I share the good parts of what I observe, there are certainly things I would have done differently and things that I wish were different today. That is how life goes when you have a family full of sinners, with free will, going through life in a fallen world. That said--we sinners are all God's creation and He's weaving such a lovely story in our lives, by His grace. I am grateful for Him.
These are some of the things I have observed:
Our Kids Are Cultured
Our oldest son turned twenty-two yesterday. We asked what he wanted to do on his birthday, and his wish was to go to an art museum! Six of us spent several hours of his birthday taking in the Philadelphia art museum before picking up one of our sons at the airport. It was gorgeous! We recognized Monet's paintings, as the girls and I just spent time studying seven of Monet's paintings at STAR. The discussions around the art, and the beautifully crafted doors (so many lovely doors!) were just so delightful. Nobody was begging to leave. Not one of our kids seemed bored. (Reality check: not ALL of our kids chose to spend the day truly discussing art. One of our kids spent more time giggling at art and making sarcastic comments about it. That's okay. They are all so unique! I was about to say that this could be a maturity thing, but it may just be a personality thing, too. I think, if my dad were there, he would have been doing the same thing. Haha!).
Our second-born recently showed that he was cultured by reciting a poem he had memorized as a child. A great starter poem for children to memorize is "The Caterpillar," by Christina G. Rossetti. Our kids (All! I am so proud!) still remember that poem. It is fun, as a mom, to watch them take these things and make them their own. For example--the other day, I asked our oldest if he wanted to have curry on his birthday. He asked "What is curry?" and our second born jumped right in to say "You know--'Brown and furry. Caterpillar in a curry,'" then he started laughing. You have to know the poem to get why this is funny, so I will share it with you here:
by Christina G. Rossetti
Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry;
Take your walk
To the shady leaf or stalk.
May no toad spy you,
May the little birds pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.
See, the caterpillar wasn't in a curry--and just think of it--a caterpillar in a curry! Yikes! Yuck! Our son used poetry he had memorized to be witty. I love it!
The same son writes music about Scripture and also, has written a couple of songs from POEMS. This Literature-loving mom couldn't be more impressed! You can check out the Emily Dickinson poem he wrote a song about on Spotify, Amazon, Apple and YouTube. He wrote it for my birthday, because I have adored Emily Dickinson poetry since I was a teenager and that is one of my favorite poems. He also wrote a song about an Edgar Allan Poe prom, and you can find that on Instagram.
I can't promise that all homeschooled children will recite poetry, analyze art and write music when they are grown--but this is the fruit of my homeschooling, and I am thankful.
Our Kids Enjoy Each Other
Had they gone to public or even private school, our children would have been separated by grade, and likely by school. They would have spent the majority of their day, every single week day, apart from each other. Consider this: we have kids who are nine years apart and who spent time homeschooling together. They have memories and shared experiences to talk about. They laugh with each other and genuinely delight in time together. I believe one of the saddest fruits of the modern day, divisive education system is that siblings grow up hardly seeing each other and with few common experiences to build connections around. The system seems to feed the idea of the "annoying little sister" and "pesky little brother" instead of nourishing a close bond between members of the family.
Our Kids Know the Bible
This, I believe, should be the NUMBER ONE goal of homeschooling. If your kids learn Plato and Homer and Shakespeare and Tolkien but they don't know what Paul, John, Moses, Isaiah, and most of all JESUS had to say, they've missed the very best and most important kind of education. Fact: children do not learn Scripture in public school these days. Opinion: children need to study God's Word (and not just on Sundays) in order to become whole people.
I played some of the Bible memory songs I've been linking to on this site. Some made the kids giggle, and our music-major son said, about one song, "That's not really a song. A song has a melody, and a harmony, and..." I honestly can't remember everything he said, except "according to Nashville." (I'm not sure who in Nashville, or where this rubric for music can be found, but I trust what he's saying). Aside from that, though, I played one song (or not-quite-a-song, according to Nashville), and the kids had another version of the exact same verse in their heads and began to sing that one instead. They know Scripture!!!
And, in the car, we had conversations about what is going on in Israel (it is so sad!) and about eschatology (Yes, my kids used that word!) and it was just wonderful to hear them and to know that they know God's Word and that they understand what is really going on in the world (unlike many Harvard students and some of my Facebook friends from the west coast, sadly). This was the best part of my day yesterday--even after seeing fifteen real-life Monet paintings and the most gorgeous elevator doors I have ever seen in my life--this--hearing my kids talk about God's Word--was the very best part of my day.
Press On, Momma!!!
I remember how difficult my days were when my children were little. I sat outside the boys' bedroom door and cried when they were chatty, singing "Twinkle, Twinkle" at the top of their lungs and they were not taking a nap. I desperately needed a quiet moment--I am sure you get the picture. You may have, in fact, lived through it yesterday, while I was delighting in art with kids who are all taller than me now. I'm sorry. I know you are tired. I know you need rest. I know it feels like it won't ever end. You're not sure you'll ever be able to cross off the five million things on your to-do-list. You don't think you'll ever achieve the instagram and Pinterest-worthy life you long for (you won't--let that go right now). It's okay. Your life is messy. There's laundry on the couch. Is it all clean? You think so. It's okay. Press on, mom.
Snuggle up, read the stories, recite the poems, drink tea, memorize Scripture, walk outside, splash in puddles, collect leaves, laugh! Make memories together. Play games, go places, do hospitality, make holiday decorations together, sing songs, dance! Hang up maps and point to all the places, even Starbucks Island (yes, it's a place) and giggle--who knew, Starbucks is an island!?
In a blink--yes--a blink--you're going to be where I am today. One of mine is deploying soon. He'll be in another country, possibly in harm's way. (Pray--please pray!) I am GRATEFUL beyond measure for the hours and days and years I poured in to homeschooling him and all of the rest. I can say, on the other side of this journey--IT IS WORTH IT. Keep going, mom. Pray for God's strength. Read Scripture aloud as often as you need to (there were times in my homeschooling I needed God's Word right that moment and I couldn't get through any other subject before I read the best of the best--His Truth). That's okay--read it. He will get you through this. He did for me, and I trust He will for you, too.
I hope that you are encouraged by this. You can do this. It is worth it. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear from you!
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