When I began my homeschooling journey two years ago, I honestly had no idea of what homeschooling should look like. I had not witnessed in any real fashion, what homeschooling truly was. I had heard talk of curriculums and Co-ops. I had met friends who homeschooled and their children seemed full of life and excited about their education. I had a lot of preconceived ideas and images in my mind but none of them have truly been accurate.
I, like so many others who have gone before me, became obsessed with making sure that I was giving my child the best education he could possibly have. Never once asking some very valid and important questions in the beginning. Questions such as: How does my son learn? What does my son love to learn about? What are my sons strengths and weaknesses? What does my son envision doing with his life? What are my sons passions? These are all wonderful questions to ask but in kindergarten I did not think that these questions would apply. After all, he was only five years old. How was he supposed to know what he loves to learn about or what he is passionate about? He hadn’t even yet come to understand such words as passion or learning styles.
How very wrong I was.
Had I taken the time to really look at my son and watch as his life taught him, I might have been able to catch glimpses of some very valuable and important hints that answered these questions. Hints like the way he could sit for hours and watch and learn about anything pertaining to space, how he loved to play Minecraft even though he was still learning to navigate such a game, how he loved for me to read to him, how he loved books in general for that matter. In addition to these things, my son had a great attention span but he would also get restless if he sat for too long doing one thing. While watching television, he also needed to have something in his hands whether it was crayons drawing a story image from his mind, the trains he would chug along the wooden tracks, or legos to build towers with. His mind never stopped working and wondering and questioning.
What exactly led me to believe that my creative and explorative sweet boy would be satisfied sitting at a desk for 5+ hours a day doing worksheet after worksheet and tests and special writing projects I honestly have no idea. Perhaps it was my images of the classrooms I grew up in – the very classrooms that in so many ways made me feel inferior and often snuffed out my creative sparks. Perhaps it was the need to mold to what the world around me deemed as the right kind of education for my child – the very mold that has often and in many ways forgotten that my child doesn’t learn the same way that 25-30 other students do. Perhaps it was the need to prove to my terrified self that I would not fail – the need to prove I was good enough, worthy enough to truly educate my son. Perhaps it was all the above and so much more. Whatever led me to this very wrong assumption, it was certainly from a place of my own insecurity rather than the confidence in understanding my son and the calling God had given me to homeschool.
in just two years time, I had taken my sweet and incredibly smart boy who created his very own goals for kindergarten, who loved to learn and explore, who couldn’t wait to start school with Mommy and I had begun to transform him into a child who just wanted to get the worksheets done so he didn’t have to think about them anymore, who wanted to just stay in his room to avoid having to do another boring and long day of the exact same work he had been doing for weeks on end. He lost his desire to explore the world around him, he lost the excitement of new lessons. The only time I would even see a spark of joy was when we sat aside his regular work and did just a fun Science Day or we watched an educational video or just spent time reading. He would retain information like a sponge and his questions and his reasoning blew me away. Then once we returned back to our regular work, all the light was gone. There was only a dim expression from a small boy who just wanted to LIVE his education. He just wanted to learn about things that he could use in his every day life. He wanted to learn Math but not the same concepts over and over that he already knew. He would beg with me to do something different but I refused because we had a curriculum and he was a “Straight A” student. We were showing our family, friends and community that homeschool works.
Except for when it wasn’t. Which was basically every day.
Even as I type these words, my heart grieves. You see, I was homeschooling to prove I could do it. I was homeschooling to make sure my son met the world’s standards of intelligent and educated. I was homeschooling the very opposite way that God had intended and I had failed my son and forgotten him amidst my daily lesson plans and test planning and extra writing assignments. I was literally killing my son’s creative vision and joy for learning. I was taking from him his spirit and passion. All to fit a mold. All to fit my own need to be enough.
Over the last few months, I have spend many nights in tears, exhausted from the overwhelming struggle to get anything done. The stress of balancing my son’s school work load, an infant, two dogs, my household chores and all the other responsibilities I had resting upon me. I kept asking God for help and all I kept hearing was, “Let it all go.”
“Let it all go? Are you kidding me? I have worked SO HARD to hold this all together”, I told the Lord with desperation and disgust in my voice. “I have spent hours planning, I have bought this incredible curriculum, I have worked endlessly to make sure he gets every last bit of it done and I kill myself to catch up when he falls behind. You want me to just LET GO?!?!?!?!?!”
And His reply: “Yes. Just like that. LET IT ALL GO.”
Either God had lost His mind or I had and I think we all know the answer here. So, after months and weeks of arguing, constantly struggling with throwing our curriculum to the wind and then running back to gather it up again and try to figure out how we could catch up, I found myself again on my knees this past weekend. Tearfully, I laid in my bed and listened as my mind told me I was a failure. Wept as I convinced myself that I was not enough. I was not adequate. That the problem was me.
And suddenly I heard, “The problem IS you. You refuse to listen to me and just let go. My child…just let go. I promise you I have a plan.”
In mostly desperation mixed with a lot of exhaustion and anger I finally agreed and I fell asleep. I slept so soundly that night and that one night only might I add. (Thanks Little Miss M.) When I awoke Monday morning, I felt this determination to change. I felt this need to give my homeschool back to God. So I did and then I walked into our homeschool room that morning, walked over to our shelf with ALL of our curriculum and teacher texts and I gathered them all up (minus Arithmetic and Handwriting) and I packed them up.
I PACKED THEM UP! Put them away in the closet and then I turned to my son who was now standing behind me with wide eyes and said, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
Confusion was definitely very apparent at this point. He had a lot of questions. Was he in trouble? Was I sick? Was he having to go to public school (I must admit that the gasp and look of horror when he asked this had me laughing for a good 10 minutes.) Was I in trouble? Was I going crazy? What was happening? Each question received the same answer of no with a giggle.
I told him we were going to build something for school work. He looked at me shocked but ran to get his blocks before I changed my mind. We built a whole cabin. Then I told him he could play in his room for bit. He again, looked at me with this strange look of shock surely thinking something was going on but again, darted up the stairs before I changed my mind. After that we did one sheet of Math which he finished in just under 10 minutes front and back and then I told him he could pick a book to read.
The freedom to read a book he enjoyed rather than from the assigned readers lit his face up with delight. He read for almost 45 minutes. I had to STOP him to get ready for us to go to the store. He was sorely disappointed.
We had a very relaxed and minimal day of school and we spent the night watching Christmas movies and laughing together. It was glorious. Right up until, I tucked my son in bed and went down to the homeschool room to respond to some emails. As soon as I walked in, the closet seemed to be all I could focus on and my mind was racing. What was I thinking? I couldn’t just not use the curriculum we paid for! I couldn’t just throw it aside and be done with it! Had I lost my mind? Yes. I had lost my mind. I literally got up from my chair and darted to the closet to reach up and grab the basket of curriculum but instead I got smacked, literally, in the head with a Fun-Schooling Journal I had tucked away in the closet for “fun time”. I rubbed my head and then started to grab it to toss it back up into the closet and then I stopped.
See, over the last few months I had become obsessed with this Fun-Schooling method. I spent hours researching it, reading the reviews, and scouring over the endless amounts of journals I found on Amazon. I secretly dreamed of this method of schooling in our own home. I thought it must be heaven to be able to just teach your child that way with no guilt. How I envied the author of these journals. She seemed to teach her children with ease because they were in essence, teaching themselves. How could she school this way and be confident in it? Again, tears began to well up in my eyes as I heard my Father speak to me, “My child. When will you learn that you are enough? You asked for a plan, a way and here it is.”
I sat in the middle of my floor and began to scour over the journal. I thought about the things that Mister M might explore with this small, fun journal. I thought about the things I had been seeing online and the review I had recently given on my homeschool group page encouraging others to use them. Why was I not fully using it myself? And then I flipped to the beginning of the book and there scrawled on the page was a list of things Maximus had written that he wanted to learn about:
- Who were the 10 generations of the Bible that came after Jubal and Tubal-Cain?
- Small dinosaurs.
- How the human body works.
And I was instantly certain this was God. No looking back. I closed the closet and said, “God, I am giving you my homeschool. Every detail. I am taking a HUGE risk here. I am not even consulting my husband so please forgive me but I am trusting you and I am going to do this. No more full ABeka. No more hours on end of insanely repetitive work. I am going to let you show me how to teach my son. I am letting go. Completely.”
And I did.
Now, I cannot tell you how this story ends because, well, it is just beginning but I can tell you that when we let go and just let God work through us, the ending is usually pretty stellar. I can’t tell you I am not going to struggle along the way but I can tell you that I serve a God who is already in that struggle waiting to help us walk through it with grace and mercy.
And, so begins our Fun-Schooling journey. We will keep only our Arithmetic workbook and writing workbook as he was learning to write cursive but that too will be replaced with the Fun-Schooling “Creative Comic Book Cursive and Spelling: Do It Yourself Journal” as soon as I am able to purchase it.
I am going to take back my homeschool for God and for my sanity. I am going to let my son be the creative, outside the box learner he is and I am going to stop trying to meet a standard I was never meant to chase after. That cycle stops here for me and my children. We are all enough and this is OUR journey. Just as I tell my homeschool group every single week almost, “The curriculum doesn’t rule me, I rule the curriculum”.
I can’t wait to share our journey with you more regularly and I cannot wait to encourage other Moms to just let go and let their children learn and explore outside the confines of what the world says is best. This is our home, this is our school, these are our children and we can choose to say enough is enough and do it the better way. The fun way. The Fun-Schooling way.
It’s never too late to flip your homeschool upside down and start fresh. Never.
In Christ’s Love,
Kristy Delgado, The newest member of the Fun-Schooling Moms Club ❤