School is finally picking up to a level that I can enjoy and be pleased with. I wanted to post pictures of the childrens’ work, but the scanner had a (hopefully) temporary malfunction. We definitely had a slow start, but I think the kids are settling back into a routine and getting more comfortable with school as a part of the day. It took the oldest more than a month, but I think she is beginning to get it through her (sometimes a little thick) head that opening her planner the day an assignment is due is no longer acceptable. A few weeks back, we had a long conversation—one of several about the importance of being ahead of the game. Her planner for this 8th grade year is a combination of daily work, but also some places where I simply list “Review pgs…,” meaning that she has to prepare ahead. College instructors don’t tell you what to do each day, I told her; they hand you a syllabus that says ‘test in 3 weeks’ and you have to figure out what that means for you on a daily basis. If an employer wants you to complete a project by a certain day, you don’t need to wait until the deadline to begin working. Finally, if you have your own boutique (her life’s dream as of right now), you don’t wait until Christmas to begin designing and making your holiday wear; you start in July, or at least, that’s what the stores do. I don’t know if any of that sank in, but the Lord sure has done a number on my thoughts and anxieties about the whole situation. I have been obedient, most of the time, to taking my hands out of the situation and allowing Him to step in. What a wonderful gift of prayer we have that we simply don’t use to its full potential. As a part of my own prayers and obedience to next steps, I read the posts of other parents of 8th graders. I’m at peace that I’m not as crazy as I thought I was. It’s not abnormal, this year before everything “counts,” to have a certain amount of healthy, and sometimes unhealthy, amount of apprehension. Yet as I read and educate myself, I have to pray and ask God about what part of my emotions has to do with her and what has to do with me.
I remember years ago when another homeschooling friend talked to me about one of her daughters, who wasn’t performing well or enjoying school at the time. My friend shared about how she felt the Lord was perhaps dealing with her on an issue of pride given that she and her husband were star performers in their school days. The conversation intrigued me at the time, but now I remember the words with clarity and conviction. I truly believe that a part of that cycle that we all go through in our homeschooling journey—elation to exasperation to angst (couldn’t find another e word in the online thesaurus—HA HA)—has everything to do with taking our schools out of His hands and trying to place them in our own. He has a way of showing us that even our best efforts with a prayer are sometimes in the way of His ability to fully develop our children into all that He wants them to be. Plus, prayer with a reminder that He can do more than I can takes the tightness out of my neck when my daughter says, “I have to do…? Now, which book is that again?” At any rate, six weeks into our school year, she worked really hard on Monday and Tuesday to make sure that she could attend service on Wednesday night and still be ready on Thursday. Our need to evacuate due to Ike preempted the trend’s continuity, but I’m going to pray that it’s ingrained enough to occur on its own once we get back to normal life.
What else is happening in our school year? Our son is as happy as a pig in slop, now that dance season has begun again. He is in advanced classes this year, and with a new instructor with an extensive biography, he’s now found a new love for water. He’s doing very well at home, too. Several years ago, I heard a speaker say that as a homeschooling parent, you won’t focus on every child every year. At the time I thought this was absurd. In my arrogance/ignorance, I sat like a peacock, thinking of how I had refuted her words by my actions—I put together goals for each child each year. The nerve(!), I thought. Now I sit with an appropriate level of humility in realizing that, at least in my case, she’s right. Our son’s year has sailed along smoothly without any intervention from me. His planner sits before him each day, he gathered all the books from his reading list almost instantaneously after I wrote the titles down, and all I hear from him on any given day is, “I’m finished with…” with an occasional call for help thrown in. He’s actually doubling up on science this year because I want him to move into Apologia’s General Science next year, but wanted to give him the opportunity to experience the 3rd Zoology text from the elementary series. It meant having science twice per week rather than once, and the kitchen is slowly being revamped into a science lab, but it also gives us some 1-on-1 time together. This is my precious time to put my arm around him and read to him, given that my hands are full with the girls.
The youngest is faring well, although I realize now that I lack the patience to educate smaller ones. I love seeing her progress, but I get irritated when her attention span indicates that she needs a break. Doesn’t she realize all that I have to do? (smile) Besides, I think I am selfishly enjoying my own journey back to school as I work with the older ones, and I already know my three R’s. Then again, my handwriting could stand some improvement. I’ve been told that I missed my calling as a doctor. Hmmm, maybe I should get more excited about forming those letters. One item we’re both enjoying is reading and narration. We’re currently loving Hugh Lofting’s The Story of Doctor Dolittle. The book is enjoyable enough that her older brother loves to stop what he’s doing in order to hear what we share. Regardless of my own enthusiasm about Kindergarten, I don’t doubt for a second that if my worst complaint is that she gets silly and sloppy by the 3rd time she’s written her name at the top of a page (I make her do this as an additional handwriting opportunity), I am truly blessed.