Adoption, Homeschool, Lifestyle, Parenting

Why we stopped homeschooling

I am sat drinking coffee alone in my favourite coffee shop reflecting on the last 12 months. Today is the first day back at school for our boys after we spent a year home educating them. The irony is not lost on me that it was in this coffee shop that we spent our first morning of homeschool last Easter.

There were many reasons for choosing to bring our children home, but the main reason was that we wanted Jesus to be at the centre of everything; our home life and the children’s education. They were in a faith school, and one that they loved, but we felt that we needed to give them something more. I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance, and decided to spend a year working together as a family at home.

I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance

The homeschool lifestyle is incredible. We thrived outside of timetables and schedules, we loved the freedom and spontaneity that homeschooling afforded our family, and we found such incredible friends within the homeschool community. We read books on books, we spent endless hours outdoors and learned a great deal about ourselves and each other. It was such a privilege to watch my boys grow in confidence, learn new social skills and make new discoveries.

So why end it all? That is a very good question.

We always said that we would homeschool for a year and then review our decision. On reviewing, we realised that our eldest was missing school terribly, and the truth was, I was floundering under the demands of educating two very different children while running two very different businesses. Home education is most definitely a ministry in and of itself, and is a huge sacrifice for parents.

I felt that God called me to homeschool, however it wasn’t my ‘calling’ and at times, I struggled to find my identity over the last year. I loved being with my children all the time, but as God continued to speak into my heart I felt a tension between teaching them and spending quality time with them, alongside doing things that I wanted to do or felt called to. It is fair to say that the children have missed corporate learning, and although their social lives have been off the charts, the majority of their education has been in the home, one on one with me.

So what was the purpose of these last twelve months? Well, I believe that this year has not been about heart education not head education.

Our homeschool journey has been about heart education not head education

Prior to homeschooling, we were struggling at home. We were still blending as a family of five following our daughter’s adoption and still recovering from my maternal mental health challenges. Last Easter we needed to press the reset button. So we did.

As we took school out of the equation, and put God and family first in our home, we have gotten to know each other again. I believe that we have grown tremendously, in faith and in relationship. As we leaned in, God bound us together and we have now laid the foundations for a stronger family unit going forward.

Since December, God has been challenging me, guiding me and equipping me in so many areas; business, serving, faith and family. I believe that He called me to homeschool to lay down the foundations for our family future. God never said for how long we would homeschool, He just asked us to step out in obedience. We now believe that this season has come to an end and we need to build on what we have started. I am pressing in and listening hard. It feels like I am listening to a new song on the radio and God is tuning the dial so I can hear it clearly. I can hear the melody but now I need to let him refocus me so I can hear the words too.

Can you homeschool? Of course you can. Should you homeschool? Yes, if you feel led to.

I absolutely advocate home education and have seen firsthand how my children have thrived in the home environment. But I have also seen the delight on my children’s faces as they walked into their classroom, watched their eyes widen with excitement about the things they will get to see and do and the friends they get to meet.

So although my heart was a little sad as we waved them off this morning, I also felt incredibly excited for this new chapter of our story – both for them and for me. Here’s to the first entry on the page.

R x

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Faith, Homeschool, Lifestyle, Parenting

Why we want to homeschool

When we become parents, education is quickly at the forefront of our minds. We want to buy the right sensory toys, read the right books, have regular tummy time, attend baby gym classes and so on. We go from teaching them to roll, crawl and walk, to talk, read and write. But what about their character?

I think that developing character takes time and influence, and we need to think about who has the greatest influence in our children’s lives on a day to day basis. Their Teacher? The Teaching Assistant? Their friends? My eldest was put into childcare just before his first birthday and has essentially been in some form of formal education ever since. For eight years my son has received excellent holistic care, ensuring his physical and emotional needs were met. But what about his spiritual needs?

It is for this reason that we chose a faith school for our boys when they reached school age. Both have achieved all the proper milestones and progressed through Early Years Foundation Stage in to KS1. We loved the fact that Jesus was discussed at every opportunity and the boys developed great friendships. In short, the school we had chosen felt like the very best option for our family.

But God had other ideas.

We have several friends who homeschool, some have been doing it for over a decade, others little over a year, and their journey’s have fascinated me. One dear friend has talked about homeschooling her children for years. I found myself facilitating a conversation with my curious friend and a homeschooler and I found myself listening intently and asking questions. I felt very much like my spirit had been stirred bu God, and started thinking about whether this was actually feasible for us.

I felt very much like my spirit had been stirred by God

I am often quick to ‘join the party’ so I wanted to make sure that my interest in homeschooling was from God, and not just my own whimsical musings, and sure enough He pressed homeschooling on my heart. Everywhere I went, I would meet homeschoolers, or homeschooling would come up in conversation, or I would read articles about why I should consider it. In fairness, I did consider it, but quickly dismissed the idea as there was no way my personality type could cope (or indeed wanted to cope) with my kiddos 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

But God. True to form, He softened my heart and revealed to me how beautiful this process could be. That homeschool is more than just teaching subjects, but nurturing tender hearts.

Homeschool is more than just teaching subjects, but nurturing tender hearts

To develop their young characters, my children need me, and they need Jesus a whole lot more. In order for me to best raise my children I need to get to know them better, and if they are spending upwards of 6 hours a day in the care of others then this is going to get difficult. In addition to that, I felt shortchanged by the education system that was taking my babies at 8.45am, sucking them dry then spitting them out tired and grumpy at the end of the day. By the end of term, the boys are almost on their knees, pale face and dark eyes. Then there is the excessive nail biting that occurs only when at school because my eldest finds it stressful to sit still for so long, and they are only in primary school!

Homeschool will give us freedom

I believe that God wants us to live differently and homeschool will give us freedom. Freedom to learn about Jesus, freedom to tie subjects together from a biblical perspective, freedom to take as much time as we need to over a topic and freedom to explore outdoor experiential learning. I want to spend time with my children. Now I realise for many working parents, this simply isn’t an option right now. For others still, they simply don’t want to, AND THAT IS OKAY. What is right for one isn’t right for everyone, and there is no judgement here against any mom or dad, guardian or carer who doesn’t want to pick up this mantel.

So that, in a nutshell, is why we are homeschooling our brood. In short, that is what God told us to do! I can’t wait to share the rest of our homeschool journey with you as we pull our boys out of school on Friday 12th April. Watch this space!

R x

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Faith

Expect persecution for the promise

Persecution is not a word we like to meditate on. This isn’t a topic for discussion over a cuppa and biscuit, it won’t bring you light relief at the end of a long day and it won’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling.

But it is promised.

Jesus Himself warned his faithful followers that they would be persecuted;

“If the world hates you, remember that they hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

This warning is as real and relevant to us as Christ’s followers today as it was to the disciples of the early church.

The definition of persecution is hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression. This means that anyone who receives negative comments, is the victim of malicious gossip, is excluded, or is subject to cruelty of any kind for their faith is persecuted.

There are many thousands of Christian men, women and children across the globe who have died or are dying for their faith right now. People who bravely stand up for their belief, refuse to surrender to extremist bullies and worship God in the face of the enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. May we never forget these precious people in our prayers, and may God rescue them from this world and bring them home to Himself.

But as I ponder their persecution, I wonder what this looks like for us, in a relatively safe western civilisation. Did you ever have a group of friends as school, college or work who took a dislike to you because you were different? Took offence at your impressive grades or rapid rise through the ranks? I understand that this playground style bad behaviour pales in comparison to the atrocities suffered by Christians worldwide as we speak… or does it?

What constitutes persecution or abuse in the Western world? Where do you draw the line of unacceptable social behaviour towards those who dare to be different? Because, effectively that is what we are called to be. As followers of Jesus we are called to be salt and light in a dark world, to preserve love, peace and patience, to promote good and extinguish evil. Like a struck match our faith is as the flame, bright and effervescent, burning in our hearts and casting a light around us for all to see.

But oh how quickly that flame can be extinguished, and not least when our light illuminates the darkness in another. Not least when our words convict those who know they should know better. Not least when our actions support the prompting of the Holy Spirit in another, making them uncomfortable. Because like it or not, we are all imperfect and we all need to change and grow, but this is rarely a comfortable process.

Our faith can waver as we face the loss of a friendship, a relationship or a business deal because we are different. Our steadfast feet can wobble as the persecution we are promised in the Bible is exacted upon us and the promises we read in the Bible don’t come to pass in our time frame.

But this is not how Jesus intends for us to live.

We need to remember that we are living in the end times. We need to cling to the hope we have in Jesus and remind ourselves that THIS IS NOT OUR HOME. We have an eternal home in heaven and we are merely passing through. When hopelessness hits, when financial ruin threatens and when health fails, don’t lose sight of all that God has planned for your life. The devil may think he has won the battle but we know who won the war. Hold you head up high, face your battle knowing that the angel armies themselves have got your back.

I love this quote. I read it earlier in the week and I think it is just so fitting for those who are in a battle right now;

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming ~ (Unknown)

If you are in a situation at the moment that is dragging you down; a classmate who spreads malicious lies about you, a colleague that is making work a living nightmare, or the breakdown of a relationship because of your beliefs, stop and consider that God can and will use it to propel you in to your future.

He can work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, and His promises are always Yes and Amen.

And then my friend, when we have battled our belittlers and prevailed against persecution, we will know and experience the very real promises of God.

R

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