Creating a culture in your home takes intentionality. Or does it. As moms and teachers we are creating a culture, do you know what kind of your fostering? Hang with me and let me explain.
Each household as their own rules, their own set of “naughty” words, their own bedtime routine, schooling style, moral compass, which in turn sets up your own family culture. Take a minute to stop and think what that means in your house. When I stopped to think about that in my own life two years, after being a homeschool mom for ten years, I was (to put it bluntly) disgusted.
Want to know why? I discovered I had created a “hurry up” culture around our school day. I was trying cram eight subjects per child per day……and then wonder why I was a stressed out mess by the end of the day and certainly by the end of the week.
I was creating a performance based culture that meant mom was only happy with A+ work, and by golly I didn’t want to hear any excuses. None of this whining, or lamenting over work, because then would come my lecture on “You all don’t know how lucky are”. You know that speech a public school mom gives her homeschooled children when they complain about this or that.
Sound familiar. This is not the picture I had painted in my head when we started homeschooling. This was not the way I wanted to feel at the end of day. This was not the daily flow I had envisioned, nor was it one I wanted to continue.
So here I was, ten years into homeschooling, and feeling like I had no clue what I was doing wrong. There had to be some explanation. I am a doer. I am a figure it out and make it work kind of gal. I am not a corner cutter. I do not shy away from hard things. Yet here I was ready to shout “Uncle, I give up.”
Academically all four of my kids were flourishing, but my heart was discouraged and I felt like a failure as a mom.
Want to know what saved me? First, it was Christmas break…….halleluiah for breaks. I decided to take two weeks off that year instead of our usual one week. Second, I read a tiny, little, quick read of a book that revolutionized the way I school my kids. Third, I prayed over that book and all its contents and let the Lord speak life back into my soul.
The book was called Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. I have not read another book about homeschooling that has been as impactful in my day to day life as Sarah’s book. Her style of writing was like balm for my mom heart. She spoke through the pages of this book to me like we were chatting over coffee, knee to knee, encouraging one another in this journey that sometimes feel impossible to complete.
Change doesn’t happen over night. This marked the beginning of big changes in my goals, views, and philosophy of education for my children. I felt assured that these nudges and notions of childhood education were there all along. I was just too scared to acknowledge or say them out loud because they looked so very different than what others were doing.
That’s okay. God gave me these children. He has entrusted me to educate them for this very brief time. He has given me my mommy gut instinct and the Holy Spirit to guide me on my way. I had to remind myself that my school shouldn’t look exactly like someone else’s school. My kids aren’t like their kids and vise versa.
Since finding this freedom, I have felt a resounding peace in my soul. My worrying, my second guessing, and fretting over everything anxiety was over. Does this mean it’s all roses and sunshine over here? Yeah right, I wish, but there is a new calm spirit about the way I approach my role as their teacher.
Their old teacher would feel so much pressure everyday to check boxes, to accomplish a ba-jillion tasks, and then feel good about our school day. I would in turn feel guilty in the reality of what that day looked like. “Hurry up guys, we have so much to do today. No we can’t do that or research that now. Let’s skip reading aloud today, I just want to get done so I can catch up on (fill in the blank here).” I could go on but I think you get the picture. This is a prime example of me always feeling behind, always feeling like I had to jump through so many hoops in order to feel the day of a successful. This already created an atmosphere of me feeling short and snappy with my kids. Does this sounds like a fun learning environment to you? NO!
Now we start our days together, period. It’s happening, no skipping. Why? It’s the most important part of the day to me. It is the most meaningful part of what I want my kids to remember and cherish when they leave my house. Sometimes out morning time together is thirty minutes, other times it is two hours. I’m okay with that. I have taken many things off of my kids plates to allow them the breathing room to enjoy the slow mornings together.
Now I combine subjects during our morning time to free up time for my kids to enjoy their afternoons (after chores are completed). Time to be kids. Time to play outside. Time to work 4-H animals. Time to be creative. Time to work on projects or learn about a certain interest. Isn’t that what education is suppose to be? Exploring the woods, riding bikes, building forts, cherishing the freedom to be themselves.
Society wants us to believe that our children need to start school earlier. Children should all be reading by first grade. Kids need to be spending more time in the classroom (not to mention the hours of homework when they get home). The culture around us thinks knowledge is reflected on a test score.
Rubbish. It just isn’t true. I refuse to let society to shape how my schoolroom is ran. I don’t want my fear of what others think of how I choose to educate my kids rule me any longer either. I know whom I am accountable to, whom I belong to, and who I want to reign in my home. There I said it out loud.
Now two years later, my kids are still learning. They are thriving. They are learning to cherish school for what it is meant to be. Will my kids know everything all the public school kids know? No, probably not, and thank goodness for that. Will the public school kids know everything my kids do? Nope, and that’s ok too.
I am no longer feeling the pressure to play the comparison game with other educational settings. I am simply equipping my kids the best way I know how: to love learning, critical thinking, problem solving, and to be curious thinkers. I want my kids to always think outside the box, find more efficient ways to do things, to be compassionate souls that love others and are willing to serve others.
Isn’t that what we want our adult children to look like? It is a resounding YES for me. I want to create in my children a willing heart that puts their best effort into all they do. If they love the Lord, and take all these nuggets of truth with them in their hearts, they will lead a nourishing adult life.
As I move closer and closer to the time when I will launch my first child into the world, my heart longs to keep creating precious moments and memories with him. Our time in limited mamas. Don’t waste that time fretting. Find Freedom. Find Joy. Find Laughter. Foster the love of learning.