I was often plagued by doubts and fears, guilt and exhaustion, and I was constantly comparing myself (and my children) to others. My first two kids loved homeschooling - except on the days when I injected those emotional worries into our daily routine by over scheduling, changing or second guessing curriculum, and complaining about what a sacrifice I was making compared to "most other moms."
I no longer experience this in January - and spent some time trying to figure out what has changed. Time gives perspective, but most of all - adoption came into our lives. And that gives a perspective all of its own as to what is important in life. Here are the things I've learned.
The practical stuff: My college guys are doing well in school -incredibly well with time management (they also work a good many hours a week at a grocery store), with deadlines and tracking assignments, and surprisingly with writing - the subject in which I felt the most lacking. The things I taught best were the things that interested them the least, and their interest and aptitude in other subjects made up for the places where I was weak. My lack of deadlines and in some cases testing did not interfere with their ability to meet deadlines and do well on tests. Teaching study skills: flashcards, discussion, and note taking (BJU Press Writing and Grammar) paid dividends.
They were able to pursue their academic and musical interests without the daily teen angst and pop culture onslaught that many kids experience. They had time in their day to daydream and imagine, create and reflect. Not always stuff I liked, but free of the noise and distraction of treadmill lives. They remember everything I discussed with them - even when it seemed like they weren't paying attention. They really appreciated the Spiritual guidance and wisdom of their BJU Press video teachers and remember much of it today.
History was best learned through discussion of text and correlating video images or historical fiction. (They'll never forget the filmed and brutal verbal attack against a Chinese college professor by ignorant peasants (during the Cultural Revolution) or the haunting images of holocaust victims.) We didn't always watch the entire documentary - but just a few images brought the text to life. Fiction movies worked well, too.
Service projects were best done when you were face to face with the recipients - whether locally or globally.
Adoption perspective: I worked so hard, and waited and prayed so long for my adopted children, that I can't imagine taking homeschooling for granted anymore. I missed so much of their lives already! I don't judge curricula except by Christian content. That is non-negotiable. My girls are overjoyed to hear about a God who loves them, knows them by name, and calls them "beloved." He makes them a "new creature in Christ - the old is gone, the new is here," and this resonates well because of their sometimes traumatic histories. Jesus Christ is the foundation of all knowledge. This is the rock we build on.
I have used public school resources - particularly kindergarten and ESOL. I am thankful for the many Christians in our local system that have made this a friendly place for us. I have learned from the many gifted educators over the years and still reach out for advice and help when needed. I miss the school librarians and art teachers the most. I wish we still had Christian based education in small classrooms and schools, but the trend is away from that. The homeschooling community has become it's own resource, however, with its many gifted teachers who build on the same foundation that we do - Christ.