lost, on our way to found

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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26 Responses to lost, on our way to found

  1. Allison Hunter May 13, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    I am a teacher at heart, and taught middle school for 5 years. I will confess that I worried and agonized over every one of my students over those years the same as you do with your 2 precious ones. Ultimately, I took this last year off as my Masters in Counseling was finished and I seek licensure. It was hard to watch my kiddos go to public school, knowing they loved it for all the wrong reasons, sports, friends, etc. I want them to love the learning process and all the things that go along with that. The public schools here have almost beat that out of them, and I agonize over all the years I had no choice but to send them.
    I think for so long our culture has followed the model most accepted, the definition of normal, and what good parents “should” do, that now really making our independent choices for our children as responsible parents must, feels so odd and uncomfortable. I know I have questioned myself numerous times for going against the grain, but once the decision was made, I didn’t really care what people thought, and loved being a sort of renegade.
    What I hear from you this post and so many others, is that you have a heart after God, and for your beautiful family, and you take it very seriously. There is nothing wrong with that. I think Edie said family time is so sacred. You are walking on Holy ground. Each step is amazing, and faithful, and full of so much. The love that you worry if it will translate? It will… loud and clear. When they are older, the precious memories are going to go with them, and the character that Christ has built in them through you will change the world. (((Hugs)))

    • perfectlyimperfect May 13, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      Thank you, Allison! I do feel it is such a personal decision, but ultimately whatever our choice is, we must take it seriously and be so active in our little ones’ lives. Coasting just won’t cut it–and Edie is my hero. Such a beautiful, grace-filled heart in that girl. We all have a lot to learn from her example. Thanks so much for your comment & blessings to y’all! :-)
      shaunna

  2. Talitha May 13, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Hey there! You won’t believe this. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. I don’t know you, I don’t know your blog, I was looking for something else (home decor related) and ‘accidentally’ came across your blog… well, that was so meant to be! I’m a mom of three and we are in the process of deciding whether we want to start home schooling our 6 year old after summer. I’m leaning towards yes. This blog entry was the most honest, real and beautiful account I have come across in my journey towards home schooling. What a burden just fell of my shoulders: I don’t have to be perfect to home school… God just used you to touch my heart! I will definitely come back to your blog and read more! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Have a blessed day!

  3. susan hartman May 13, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Beautifully written and something all mothers can relate to. As a mother of 4, I NEVER thought I would find myself homeschooling, but when my two youngest were in elementary school I realized homeschooling was exactly what they needed. Every year since has been an experiment and I always agonize over whether they are learning enough, and missing out on all the … social events that mark schooling. However, every year they choose to stay at home. This year marks a huge change, as my youngest is now an official homeschool graduate and is heading off to college, while his brother is looking at his Jr. year of college. They made it, and somehow in spite of all my worries, they are happy, confident and know themselves. I wouldn’t trade a minute of the crazy time I had with them.

  4. Judy Forehand May 13, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    You don’t have to be a perfect mother – you only have to try. I always tell my children, who range in age from 32 to 49 to put this on my tombstone: ” Well, she tried.” Life is not perfect. Mothering is not perfect. only the love of God is perfect. We all fall short every day but we get up and do it again.

  5. Debbi May 14, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Shauna,

    My son is 10 years old. He went to public school 2 years. Then we did online charter school for 2 years. We really enjoyed homeschooling. Now he is back in public school. I never thought this would be our route. I’ve learned that I need to be flexible. It is illusion to think there is some normal that us mom’s try to compare ourselves too. Motherhood guilt is a challenge. My hubby and I have our own shop and paint furniture day and night! Our son is in basketball and track. Our life is crazy. There is so much our son is learning because we have our own business. Know you are on the right path for your family. Thank you for your honesty. It helps me to know that I’m on the right path. :)

  6. T. Cashion May 14, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    I work in a community college with high school students taking college classes. I work with over 100 home school families. Many of the home schooled children are eons above the public school students with regard to what they have learned. Some families are doing a superb job of home schooling and their children are getting much more than they would in public school. However, I have also worked with several families who thought their children were excelling in academics; but, in reality, their children were very far behind their public school counterparts.
    My recommendation would be to guage your children’s success by using multiple standardized tests at the end of each academic year. Some home school parents are shocked when their children take our college placement tests and they realize their children are not prepared for college.

  7. Robin May 14, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I’m a fellow Alabama homeschooler too. We homeschooled our oldest from 8th grade through 12th. We are currently homeschooling our youngest, just finishing up 3rd grade. I have had the same exact anxieties every.stinkin.year. I’m just now finally at peace with our curriculum which we have compiled from different sources. We used to do Right start math as well. It was not a good fit for us. We are currently using Teaching Textbooks and I can’t say enough great things about this program. I guess the only advice I would give you is to just prayerfully re-evaluate each year. If something isn’t working, try something else. I did that twice this year with grammar and writing. We have finally found a good fit for us. I worried that we had made such huge mistakes homeschooling our oldest. But she is now married and has two very young children that she wants to homeschool when they come of age. I guess our mistakes weren’t as bad as I had imagined. Try not to worry so much. We are often our toughest critics. You will get more confident as you go along this journey. God bless and good luck!

  8. Angelia Michaels May 14, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Shaunna,

    I appreciate your honesty about your journey. I began homeschooling my son when he was four, he is now 10, and I remember feeling much of the anxiety that you shared in your blog post. My son is an only child, which was never in our “plan”, but it is what it is and we are trusting God in this journey. The hard thing about homeschooling an only child, who is highly social, is that even when we participate in homeschool group activities he is often the outsider because everyone else has siblings and friends with siblings. The neat thing about this experience is that God has revealed how He works His plan for His glory in all circumstances for those who love and trust in Him. My son loves his friends, but he loves his family more. His heart is turned to us and he genuinely seems to have a desire to honor us in all he does, even when we aren’t watching. Even at the age of 10, my son is not ashamed of giving a big hug or kiss to mom or dad before running off to hang with his friends. I notice that most homeschool families that we know are close like that. Even the families with multiple children seem to genuinely love and respect one another. The other neat thing about homeschooling is that the children learn to interact with people of all ages because they are not restricted to the peer group of a set classroom. I think you are beginning to see this as Gray interacts with people at the shop. I bet another thing you will notice is that Gray will begin to value people regardless of how they look or what they bring to a relationship with him. My son never flinched when a a boy with autism, who also had part of his arm missing, joined one of my son’s homeschool groups. The kids just loved the boy right where he was. Those things aren’t taught so much as lived. The walks that I have with my son every morning before we begin our “school day” are are blessing to my soul. We talk freely about fun things, political events, or even what we notice occurring in the community. I would not trade that opportunity to feed into his spirit for anything in the world! I have learned not to sweat the academics because God has directed our path every step of the way, even with curriculum. Don’t misunderstand me, it is hard, it doesn’t get much easier regardless of the age, the hurdles are just different. But, I would argue that it is the hard things that we get through, with God directing our paths, that make life worthwhile ;-)

  9. Susan J May 14, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I am curious about your reasons for deciding to home school. I have looked through your blog and you’ve mentioned that it was a very personal decision and was a very carefully considered one, but I don’t know what your specific reasons were. I would love to hear them if you ever feel like writing about it.

  10. Ronda May 14, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Shaunna, you are absolutely awesome! I so admire the way you tackle everything in your life with such grace. :) It is natural to question, especially in the early stages of homeschooling. I don’t know about Alabama, but in Indiana, there is so much pressure on the public school teachers to “teach to the test” that It makes me constantly grateful that I can teach what is right for my kids. Relax and enjoy these early years. Days when you will need to worry about getting into college will come soon enough. I will be graduating my baby next year.

  11. TKraft Art & Interiors May 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    What a heartfelt post… sometimes our best teachers are closer than we think. KUDOS to you and your lucky students.

  12. Rebekah T May 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    As I prepare to start homeschooling my 5 year old in the fall, I am faced with the same fears you have. I have no idea how it will go, but I have finally let go of my perfectionist dream and realized regardless of which plan works – A, B or C – this is what I am called to do for our family right now. Congrats on making it through this first year! I hear that is the hardest.
    Blessings to you and your family!

  13. Kacey May 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Hey Shaunna! Loved this, as I’m just beginning the homeschool journey with my two boys. You seem to be a wonderful mother and it sounds like your two are getting lots of good, real-world experience – a wonderful way to learn!

    My oldest (7) was so bored in 1st grade that we ended up pulling him out 6 weeks before the end of the year, so I’m already getting some experience with all of the doubts and guilt. I’ve gone back and forth on the curriculum options too many times to count, but I’m already feeling very good about our choice to homeschool. It all just comes down to doing what we feel is best for our kids, although it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others and worry that we’re making the wrong choice. Sounds like you’ve got it pretty much figured out. :)

  14. Jan May 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Even when you send your children to public school(as I did eons ago), parents are in the midst of “homeschooling” everyday. Sometimes our influences are positive and sometimes not. The most important thing I have learned is to have your heart in the right place. Learning lasts a lifetime. I still worry if I am giving the right advice to my adult children. The concern and teaching will continue. I ask God for guidance and try to proceed with as much love as I can. Keep strong, you have just begun!!

  15. Victoria May 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    We have four kiddos, ages 10, 12,13, 15, and we have always home schooled. Those sentiments you expressed are at the very heart of my homeschooling years… every year. Just about the time I think I’ve got a handle on it, something changes! But, if I could pull off the perfect year, to whom would I give the glory? Probably me and not the One who enables me. So, I am grateful for the struggle as it keeps me dependent on Him, and not some perfect curriculum or schedule, or – thank goodness – the perfect mother! You are doing great!!

  16. Mary May 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Hey, Shaunna. I currently homeschool my son (2nd grade) and will be starting preschool w/ my girl next year. We feel totally at peace with our decision, and wouldn’t change it for the world. I TOTOALLY get all of the feelings you mentioned. There can be times of wondering if you’re doing enough, feeling selfish or impatient, and feeling like a failure (I totally empathize w/ your guilt/pity episode – my hubby has pulled me out of some of those, God love him). And then there’s times where you feel like you’re totally mastering it. But I believe with my whole heart that God gives us the grace to educate our little ones, and I know that I’ll never ever regret the extra time that I got to spend with them. And like you, I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve learned about myself. They’ll definitely learn their academics if you put in the effort, and most importantly, they’ll learn every day the morals that you uphold. Keep up the good work, and I pray that God will shower blessings on you and your cuties!
    Mary

  17. Kellie May 15, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Homeschooling has been the best decision we have made. My son is now 18 and graduating on Friday and I would not have traded this time with him for anything. Has it been a bed of roses every day? No! But the majority of the time has been such a blessing. I will miss not teaching him but look forward to what God has planned for him in his future. Enjoy your time with your kids, whether you homeschool, public school or private school. It all goes so fast! Blessings!

  18. Marsha Sefcik May 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    I am late chiming in as I am experiencing difficulty accessing your blog when your post shows up in my feed. This is my second year home schooling our kids and I can totally relate to how you feel. Some times I too feel selfish as my interior decorating business continues to grow and trying to balance it all. I too worry about my kids and whether they are getting enough face time with their friends, etc. However, at the end of the day, I know in my heart that they are happy. Nothing gives me more pleasure hearing them play together and at the end of the day, when we lay together and they read to me, my heart sings. There are definitely lots of days when my kids are sitting at the fabric store drawing pictures on whatever paper i can find in my bag while I source fabric for clients. I believe our children are learning wherever they are.

  19. April May 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Shaunna – I’m so excited for you and the year you’ve had! I have home schooled my children from the beginning (except for one miserable semester); next year my son will be a sophomore and my daughter an 8th grader.

    I can’t say the insecurity of “am I doing enough…?” has ever been completely silenced, but it is my own insecurity and issue to deal with. For the record, most often the kids are thankful we do homeschool. This year has us ending in the Philippines; because of the freedom homeschool provides we came the beginning of April.

    I’m so thankful for the gift of affirmation God gave you in the seemingly simple act of a hug. So incredibly precious! Regardless, you son is worlds ahead for understanding how to interact with all age groups and showing respect to those you are serving. All the ‘schoolwork’ will fall into place, in the right time. Thank you for your sharing your ups, downs, and being so vulnerable with all of us. Someday I hope to visit your store – from everything I have seen, I love it all!

  20. Shannon Acheson May 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Hugs, sweet Shaunna. You know we homeschool…three little people, no less. I have found that once they can read, school gets SO much easier! Giving them some independent work can also ease the workload. I adore reading aloud to them but have eased up on the pressure on myself to do everything perfectly everyday. I still wonder if I’m doing enough, but I think I would wonder the same if they were in school full time. Can’t wait to hug you in person at Haven (you’re going, yes?!).
    xo,
    Shannon

  21. Megan Weiss May 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    I love the posts that I have read regarding homeschooling. Kudos to the paretns who do this successfully, bringing their children to the point of graduation and college. I am a teacher, and I don’t know that i could have done this myself. I was faced with the prospect when we relocated due to my husband’s job, and the though absolutely terrified me! I had a Junior in AP courses, and a 7th grader who did NOT want to move (from central NY to Western MA). Both situations made me sweat! In the end, we stuck with public school, and the transition, while difficult, was the right one for our family. I thought long and hard about my daughter who was a Junior, and if I had thought that I could have handled the content, I would have given it a whirl. I guess that my point is…. do what is right for YOUR family. You will not regret it.

    Oh – and BTW, thank you for this blog! I found it when I purchased a farm table and pressed back chairs (from craigslist) that I want to paint. I found chalk paint tutorials here, and I think that “I CAN DO IT!!!” !!This is a great blog/website. I come back all the time :)

  22. Kimberly July 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    No matter what anyone thinks about homeschooling, how can you go wrong when you know you are answering God’s call? Good luck with all of your future endeavors in raising God’s children!

  23. Shira July 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    We too homeschool, just finishing our first year (with a preschooler and 2nd grader). I agree that it is the hardest and most challenging job ever and yet so rewarding! As an artist, I thought our days would be paint and crafts but felt the need to start with the basics. As a result we rarely got to the “fun” stuff of crafting and paint and glue! This coming year, I am planning the art in, so it doesn’t get left behind in the midst of the have-to’s! It is a challenge finding a good balance between too much and not enough. Don’t sweat it. They seem to learn more when the learning is not so forced, like when we are cooking and doing math, or painting and learning patience. You will find your way.

    I found your blog while looking for paint tips… and see that we have lots in common! I am trying to begin a blog, but in the midst of 1st year homeschooling & life, have only done a few posts, so I admire you keeping all these balls in the air!

  24. homeschoolertoo August 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    thank you for this post…..struck a chord…..God bless you in your upcoming school year…stay strong and confident in your choice to homeschool…..God will honor you for your faithfulness and humility!!!! :)

  25. Em September 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    hello, a little late to respond. We have just started homeschooling this year (1st and 4th). I too have the same worries (is the homeschool day long enough, are we doing it right, are they getting enough, socialization,) My husband teaches the main parts during the day I come home and teach the “extras” (reading, sciense, history, writting). We both work 40hrs/wk. He works 3rd shift, I work days. It has been extremely challenging and tiresome. I am still in the I dont know if this was the right decision phase. But I also have days where I think yeah it will work. Every one seems to say the same thing. If it doesnt work then try something else next year. My oldes has been in public school for K5 and 1st, then to private for 2nd and 3rd. My youngest has been to private for K5. The school was awesome but we had a drive, which was our choice. So between the mileage, gas, wear and tear on vehicle and tuition we thought we would try this approach. My husband was more for this then myself. Like stated previously I am still in the “I dont know” phase. Thanks for all the comments. This site was given to me by my mother in law. I would appreciate more of your posts. It has been interesting reading. Thak you.

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