Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Homeschooling Through the Hard Times

Life Happens. Sometimes Life happens a lot. The stories I could tell. 

When I was 24 I had a massive car accident. I had to learn to walk again. It left me with lifelong scars and injuries. A few years later I went into congestive heart failure. When we adopted Josiah (he was 2 weeks old) I guess I kind of figured that motherhood would exempt me from anymore of life’s little surprises.

Wow.Was I wrong. But then again I was wrong about the whole stirrup pants thing, too. I thought they'd be around forever.

There were the usual things. Moves. Job Changes. The Studly Muffin is a pastor so there have been a few of those. Not to mention I had to learn to parent in my limited capacity. And then came another episode of heart failure. Another move. Another move. And another move. When we decided to homeschool Josiah, he was going into the 1st grade. I knew it would be a challenge for me. After all, I am trained classroom teacher. And one of the reasons I stopped teaching was because of those pesky stamina problems.
There are those around me who would tell me that I was doing Josiah a disservice.  That I couldn’t possibly manage to address some of the learning challenges that were ahead of him and that he would certainly lack in friends and social situations (every hear that one?)
And then there were those self-imposed issues. Guilt for one. How can I parent effectively, let alone teach to my ability when there are days that I seldom function?  Josiah deserves better than that. How can I assure that there is still some sense of normalcy and consistency in our family life when I am anything but normal or consistent? 

 It’s taken me a few years to come to terms with my own guilt and trying to please others in my life. I had to be honest about what was most important to us as a family. 

I needed to leave the guilt behind. For one, I was developing a relationship with my son that went beyond my parental duties. And given the fragility of life…I was providing him with not just memories and a good education…I was providing him with me.

 If all I could give him some days was reading snuggled up on the couch or some real meaningful conversations stretched out across his bed, that was worth it. He has had to learn some things I didn’t wish on him. However, the payoff has been that our family unit is stronger. 

My own expectations of an ideal education had to change. I have had to let go of some of my unrealistic notions. Was a good education for us cramming our day with Latin, guitar lessons, swim practice, Lego club,..we’ve had to pick and choose. 

I would like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned along the way.  

Make Hay While the Sun Shines. I am probably more impulsive than I used to be.  If the sun is shining and there is the makings of a PB&J in the pantry, it is not uncommon for us to take an impromptu field trip to one of our city’s many parks. If you are feeling good..take advantage of it. Seize the Day!

A Well Laid Plan. I realize I sound like I’m contradicting myself. But hear me out.  On days that I am more productive I make sure I am planning ahead for those days that are harder. Do I have the supplies for my planned projects? Have I downloaded what I need for a particular lesson? Is my supply of emergency chocolate chips holding out? I've got my priorities, after all.

The Resource Room.  The Resource Room (a room at school filled with all the supplies a teacher could want) used to be my favorite place. I think nowadays teachers have to come up with many of their own supplies. I make sure that I am constantly building our resource Library. In my homeschool cabinet I have a Math Bucket with easy to play Math Games. We have an Art Bucket, with do-it-yourself kits or supplies. I have a list of science experiments that are easily done with ingredients around the house. And consider this, I am not only teaching my son,  I am teaching him to learn.  What kind of websites can you utilize for learning? Are there computer programs that can assist you?

Bookish. This is a given. Are my shelves filled with books that we can enjoy together? Do I have Audio Books that I can utilize? We try and make it to the library every week. I try and check out at least one or two Audio Books that we can listen to. Nobody says you have to read the book to enjoy it. I love listening to Audio Books, myself.

My Peeps. My support system is very important to me. My friends and family have been my hands and feet. Besides of the tremendous help I have received personally from my in-laws and other family members,  Josiah has benefited from Master Art Classes with my Mom, Learning parties with friends, Nature Hikes with my Dad, Field Trips with Daddy. Think about those around you.  There isn’t anything that says you have to teach everything.

Teaching to Learn. I mentioned before that I am teaching to Josiah to learn. Does he know how to look up facts? Letting him loose with a project is pretty great. It might not always have the desired results I think it should have. I realize that Josiah is 11. You can’t necessarily let your 5-year-old loose with a chemistry set. But, there are 100’s of ideas for sensory boxes, busy bags and learning tubs that can be adapted for any age.

Be Good to Mama. This means you. Mama. You must take care of yourself. I understand. I am not always in control. However, I do know that when I don’t get enough rest, when I run myself ragged, when I don’t eat properly…I will eventually pay for it. We owe it to our families to do what we know how to do.

Just Rest. There will be some seasons that you just need to lay everything aside. Pick a wonderful book and enjoy it together. Simply enjoy your family the best you can.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace. I believe that God’s Grace has sustained me. There have been things I have just had to leave at the altar. And He has heard my groaning. And He has given me joy. 

 This particular season of our lives has seen a little bit of sunshine. My health is good. I lost 70 pounds this past year (I have more to go). I am getting to do some neat things . I still have enough metal in my body to support a small aircraft (not quite, but almost!) and I will be on some of my medications for the rest of my life.

But every time I see this face I am reminded that I made the right decision. It might be tough...but it's not impossible.

You might enjoy other of my 5 Days of Creative Teaching Posts

I am linking up to 5 Days of Creative Teaching 


  1. A sweet post, Rebekah. Congrats on the weight loss! And I second so much of what you said to cope!

  2. Thank you. Really. As I cope with multiple chronic illnesses on top of homeschooling my 6 kiddos and dealing with their many special, there are many days when I feel guilty for not doing it "right". Your honest post reminds me that what matter most are the quality time I offer my children and making sure they never forget how to learn. It's so nice to read about homeschooling from someone who doesn't appear to live a perfect life.

  3. that was a good read with some helpful suggestions, thank you. :)


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