I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while.  It’s been some time since we talked about homeschooling.

Our year started like this, all painted crafts and lesson plans.  It was a grand idea, and a grand plan, and it may have remained exactly the same if we hadn’t opened the shop in the fall.

But we did, and school became much different.  Some weeks we had “sit-down” school, and others we didn’t.  I’m such a rule follower most of the time, so having school on the go felt really foreign and almost “wrong” to me at first.  Somewhere, though, in the midst of that, I realized that while our school didn’t look like the traditional model, we were learning the same things, only in a different way.

It’s quite delicate to talk about something as personal as homeschooling vs. not, and I’ll tell you that I don’t think there’s one way for a family to raise a child…I have friends and know mamas that send their kids to public school and they’re knocking the ball out of the park in raising up their family.  I went to school, and I think I turned out alright.  Anytime I share about this subject, I immediately get a little insecure or uneasy because my current normal doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

But we all feel that way, don’t we?

Back to school…  We had our share of small field trips and long studies, but mostly, we learned as a way of life.  Gray had daily reading lessons, and we mostly stuck to those, although there were certainly weeks when reading lessons happened in the car while we reviewed phonics exceptions & blends.  He started with a rigorous math program, but we eventually abandoned doing it daily because it was quite a lot of work for him (and me).  Now, he is enrolled in some online courses that he loves and looks forward to his science and math like never before.

We did lots of scripture study, and character lessons.  We read several classical books together like The Wind in the Willows, and also fun (but wonderful) literature like Huckleberry Finn and now J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.

He worked at the shop with me and did independent studies there.  He’s learned so much about how to treat people who walk in our doors, and reads the names of all Chalk Paint & MMS Milk Paint like a champ. We worked on counting money and he learned a little about profit and loss.  He’s a professional paint stacker and may or may not have scooted by a customer this weekend (on Adam’s goofy scooter) and given them a nod and a, “good choice,” as they brought their selection to the counter.

It’s funny, we continued to send Ava to school this year so I could ease into homeschooling & so I didn’t run out of the house after having set my hair on fire.  She actually became so excited about school here, that by Christmas, she spent at least several days a week at home with us.  It was hard, but no harder than the homeschooling process itself.  It was actually more difficult to have 2 doing different things.

I’m convinced now that the first year is all about trial and error.  We had to tread lightly to find our path and are still doing so.  We may or may not be sure what curriculums we’ll study next year.  As of now, we’re planning to homeschool the kids next year, but this will always be a flexible path for us, and one we’ll continue to evaluate.

Here’s where I must confess something:  this is the hardest work I’ve ever done.  It’s not that the task alone is hard, it’s the worrying that I’m doing enough, giving enough, teaching enough, or pouring out enough grace on my children that are entrusted to me.  Homeschooling has taught me more about my wretched heart more than anything else I’ve ever done.  Like so many others, my faults and imperfections are laid bare, and I find that the only rest I receive is by admitting I’m not enough.

I’ve wondered if Gray is reading enough, is reading quickly enough, does he get enough energy out, does he miss the real friends he made last year, am I kind enough….the list goes on and on.

But here’s another thing I know–when I ask the kids what they want, despite all of my failures and insecurities, they both say they love homeschooling & hanging out with us.  They have plenty of time with friends and Bible class with friends, and are around some of my favorite adults in the whole world most of their days…so I’m okay with the influences in their lives and social skills they’re developing.

Plus, I figure a 6 year old kid who knows how to affirm a customer in their shopping experience is doing alright.  He has a lot to learn, but we’re getting there, one day at a time.

I have weeks where I feel like I can conquer the proverbial educational system, and others where I feel like a moron and failure.  So it was, that last night, after a week of 12 hour work days and little time spent with the kids, I was sitting on the couch wallowing in self-pity and guilt.  I was indulging in some Netflix, and Gray hopped out of his room to grab something from our living room.  He walked over & laid his head on my chest and squeezed so tightly.  I breathed him in, and prayed I would always put God’s plan for him first, and not my own.  In the midst of my reflection, I heard him whisper, “Lost. Season 2. One of Them.”

And my worries faded as I remembered this is about the entire journey, not one year, and not one busy work week (as it is for us all).  The kid can read.  I’m not saying those words are all 6 syllables, but the point is this…he’s getting it all and we learned quite a lot together.  So I smiled, kissed him again, finished my episode, and went to bed resting easy.  I don’t know a lot of things, but I know that felt good.  It was such a small, but powerful affirmation for me and my weary bones.

I do know that no matter how long we’ll homeschool, this year will always remain one of the most challenging and special years of my life.  Like motherhood, it’s revealed how selfish I can be and how absorbed I am with what “I can do” instead of how He can carry me through whatever I’m doing.

How about you…how have you been shaped this year, homeschooling your kids or not?  This year pushed and pulled me in ways I didn’t know existed, so I’d love to have a little conversation about it today in our comments section.

I’m making myself take the day mostly “off,” as we some school to catch up on.  Look forward to hearing about your year!

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