On last week, I spoke of being stuck in Psalm 27. My heart and mind has been in so many places that it was, and will still be, hard to articulate. Though I know the value of writing things down, I haven’t slowed down with my thoughts as school—both with my “big kids” and my own kids—has had me tied down most of the week. So for today, I don’t think that my thoughts would fit neatly into the usual weekly homeschool wrap-up forum, but for the sake of writing them and later sorting through my self-created visual aid. I promise no eloquence or tidy conclusions on this one; in fact, I predict that what will be obvious quickly is that I’ve had entirely too much time with my thoughts, which can sometimes be a bad thing.
With almost half a school year behind us, it’s not too early for me to begin assessing where we are, and where we might go next year. I’ll have another year with a high schooler, a middle schooler, and an elementary school student, so I don’t see much changing in terms of my own time commitments. We’ve had perhaps one of our best years since we began homeschooling seven years ago, and I know this has everything to do with me being humbled enough by last year’s dreadful results to submit myself to much prayer time with the Father. He’s answered almost all of our plans with a resounding YES!—history/literature, as we teach it here, is seemingly leaping off the page (in spite of the fact that Mom’s ready to check the Iliad off our reading list—only 300 more pages to go!! LOL), everybody is using the math resources effectively, and we’re in that sweet spot where everyone is learning from everyone else and everything. As one example, our son has hit a point in his land animal studies that he’s supposedly focusing on spiders. I say “supposedly” because spiders repulse him. So I struggle getting him to look at the pages and grasp the concepts. Almost as if God-sent, his little sister is reading Charlotte’s Web, so guess where he’s learning about the strength of drag lines, the process of egg sac production, etc.? The coordination of these units was not my planning at all, but everyone is benefiting from keeping their ears glued to what’s happening around them. Even the oldest is a step ahead in biology as she covers reptiles after interacting—from a safe distance—with Spot, our leopard gecko.
I’ve not been one to try and fix what’s not broken, so we’ll continue the same path on next year, for the most part. I’ll add grammar via English for the Thoughtful Child, to the youngest’s plate. I wanted to begin this year, but didn’t feel that she was ready for a larger amount of lessons than I remember requiring her to write. I may place our son on a local homeschool debate group to help him use his propensity to argue effectively. Because my understanding is that debate requires a lot of research and writing, it would probably replace studying history. I’m still thinking about reading lists for both he and the oldest, which is, in part, food for thought regarding my current dilemma.
I am convinced that as homeschooling parents, we teach according to who we are. Our passions become the areas that we teach best, and the place where we bring the most to the classroom experience. The corollary is that there are other areas that we either don’t like or don’t understand (like poetry for me) that become hits and misses—perhaps less hits and more misses—in our school. Incidentally, I think that traditional school teachers do the same thing, but at older ages, they don’t cover the full gamut of subjects the way that many of us do, so the results might not be as recognizable. Because of this factor, we have to stay before the Lord regarding agenda. What do I mean by agenda? I mean those plans that have more to do with you, or other factors not germane to academic wisdom. One example might be when you’re determined to prove to the in-laws that homeschooling is a valid alternative to a traditional school, and so you overwhelm a small one to create a “genius” who can parrot information, but has limited knowledge and understanding. It might not be where you are, but I have had two years—this year and last year—of revelations. This is after a whole-hearted desire to subjugate academic wisdom to spiritual wisdom. How humble do I need to be, Lord? I could detail all the places where my own borderline obsession with producing intellectuals got in the way, as well as all the consequential moments that I could have spent gingerly teaching and encouraging instead of panicking and frowning. But I won’t. I’ll speak instead about where we are now. In the midst of a great year, as I mentioned before, is a high school science class that I don’t think is working. I mentioned that she didn’t perform well on the first test. The second was better, and her score was actually above the class average. Her third test is this week, and she claims to be ready for it. But for a number of reasons that aren’t entirely her fault, this class has become her life. The pursuit of a good grade means that she is having to study every day for several hours a day and doesn’t get to do hardly anything else. That was not the plan. I placed her in a virtual class in part to nurture a budding interest in a science career, and the amount of material thrown at her each week has all but squelched any affection for this subject area. As I contemplated options over this past week, I had to come face-to-face, yet again, with agenda. In the midst of our horrendous year last year, I bought into this class in order to give the oldest a peek into how a teacher would treat her that didn’t love her enough to put up with all the crap I did. I thought it’d be one less thing on my plate. Instead, I’m having to spend as much time with her on this, if not more, than I did before, and now we’re both dancing to the beat of someone else’s drum. Spanking received, Lord. I’ve considered just cutting our losses and going back to our Apologia studies, and I’ve still not shut the door totally on that option. Yet, my husband, yin to my yang, verbalized the same concern regarding wasting money, which, with the year we’ve had, is almost unthinkable. I’m more concerned at this point about what messages we’d teach regarding quitting every time something isn’t as we desire. I’m also sorting through whether there’s another issue with me and agenda: Do I struggle with releasing some control? The high school years, at least if your kid plans to leave home, require that you begin to let go. Am I ready for that? I talked ad nauseum to her on last year about the calendar spinning on how many days she’d be “safe at home with Mommy” (inclusive of being able to push Mommy’s buttons, knowing just how much or how little to accomplish for Mommy not to fuss). Maybe she’s not the only one who’s struggling with someone else in the driver’s seat? Anyway, as I said, the reason this class has had mixed results as far as I’m concerned are multi-faceted. So as I wait on answers that are beyond yes or no—answers that reveal God’s greater truths and more perfect plans for all of us—I am meditating on these words:
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek  my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.” 
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path…
13 I believe  that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!