Someone’s Watching! Homeschooling by Example
- Friday, March 18, 2011
A young mother came up to me, almost nervously, and said that she and her husband had been considering homeschooling their children. Her husband was all for it, but she had really been struggling with the idea and just wasn't sure what she wanted to do. That particular day she had met our grown son, Jonathan, and had suddenly come to the marvelous conclusion that she would homeschool! As she was talking with me, she said, "I just needed to see if homeschoolers . . . ummm . . . if they . . . ahhh . . . well . . ." At this point she looked toward the ceiling, searching for the right words.
I supplied them for her. "You wondered if homeschoolers were normal?"
"Yes—that's it!" she sighed, with a relieved look on her face. "After seeing your son, I called my husband on his cell phone and said I'm fine with homeschooling! We're going to do it!"
Being watched is pretty much a fact of life. Let's face it, whether we like it or not, whether we're having a good day (or week, or month, or year—or life!) or not, the probability is good that we're being watched. Those against homeschooling are watching—sometimes waiting for any excuse to point a finger of blame or accusation. Fellow homeschoolers are watching—looking for help with their problems or for encouragement or affirmation in their calling. Our children are watching—looking, learning, and "catching" life from us. And God is watching—always ready to help and guide!
Sometimes it feels like negative spectators and commentators abound, and just about anything negative can, and will, be blamed on homeschooling. Of course, I guess we all know that the public school system doesn't produce anyone with a speech impediment or a spelling problem. Certainly no public-schooled person is shy—in fact, every single one of them is an eloquent public speaker. It also goes without saying that every public-schooled child is a math and geography whiz. And it's common knowledge that all public-schooled kids have wonderful manners and social graces befitting royalty. Isn't it? In fact, the public school is turning out such amazingly perfect, upstanding people that it's simply astounding! Skeptical? You can prove it to yourself. Just go out to any mall, restaurant, or public place and look around; I'm pretty sure it's like I said—you'll be astounded at what you see and hear!
Therefore, with all the evidence right out there in plain sight for all to see, if a homeschooler has a problem in any area of life at all, it simply must be because of homeschooling. Right?
It's unfortunately true that many people buy into that philosophy, even though the obvious facts prove otherwise! Sometimes even we, as homeschooling moms, assume that any weakness or problem, perceived or otherwise, must be our fault. It must be because of homeschooling. We beat ourselves up and dwell on our shortcomings. We may even develop tunnel vision and focus almost totally on a particular problem area to the exclusion of just about everything else. You know what? I think it's high time we realize that everyone has faults, insecurities, problems, and weak areas. And it's because we're people—not because we're homeschoolers!
No one is perfect, but thankfully, by the grace of God and with His help, the homeschooling lifestyle is usually the best possible way to deal with our problems. We can and should seek the help of God, through His Word and input from godly people around us. After that, as homeschoolers, we have several other powerful and effective tools at our disposal. We have flexibility in our scheduling and curriculum choices, opportunity for one-on-one teaching or tutoring, and time to focus on relationships or discipline. Our kids can be with adults more than they're with their peers (that alone can all but eliminate some, though not all, kinds of problems!). And to boost our confidence even more, we have statistics on our side, showing that, on the whole, homeschoolers surpass public and private schoolers hands down—spiritually, academically, and socially! We have strong reason to celebrate homeschooling and to joyfully be the best we can be in front of a watching, though possibly skeptical, world!
We might find it unsettling to be watched by the naysayers, but when fellow homeschoolers are watching, it can open an exciting door of opportunity for mutual ministering and friendship! Many veteran homeschoolers have valuable wisdom to share about successfully managing and balancing a home, a family, and a homeschool. Which of us wouldn't welcome some tried-and-true advice about that? There are moms who have great insight about what it takes to stay the course for the long haul and may already be reaping blessings that come from sticking to it through the good times and the bad. Wouldn't it boost our own faith to see the power and love of God working in an ordinary homeschooling family? But the long-term homeschoolers aren't the only ones able to help. Newbie homeschoolers often have a contagious excitement about learning and the whole homeschooling lifestyle that can bring zest and renewed vision or purpose to a mom who may be floundering a bit. Isn't it nice when a breath of fresh air breezes in, refreshing us, invigorating us, and maybe even bringing a new answer for an old problem we've been struggling with? We all have something beneficial to share, whether we've been homeschooling for twenty years or two weeks. We just need to watch for our opportunities and grab them as they come along!
Don't look now, Mom, but someone else (or maybe several "someone elses") are also watching. That's right, I mean our kids! The looking, watching, learning, and catching life from us begins in earliest infancy and continues on and on for years. I find it interesting that an infant's depth of focus is approximately 18 inches. That's about the distance from the crook of Mom's elbow—to Mom's face! I find it both beautiful and sobering that God designed it so Mom and Dad are just about the sum total of Baby's world for a little while. As Baby grows, his range of focus grows as well, so he is able to take in and learn from more and more of his surroundings. But even as a broader horizon opens for each child, he is still watching Mom and Dad, determining what is real, consistent, worthwhile, and true. What an awesome responsibility we have to make sure that our words, thoughts, and actions match up and point our kids to truth and to the God who made them, who has a perfect purpose and plan for each individual life.
And don't ever forget, God is also watching. He's always ready, willing, and able to help and guide. He has a personalized plan for each and every one of us, and He is eager to direct our paths. He can work out every single detail and bring it all to pass in His good time. He has a solution for every one of our problems. He wants to be personally and powerfully involved in all aspects of our lives for our good and His glory! Best of all, if we let Him, He will change our hearts to empower us to do the right thing and even think the right things. This will enable us to be pleasing to Him and to be a blessing and help to our families and friends!
Kari Lewis is the mom here at Home School Enrichment. She and Frank have been married for 32 years and homeschooled Matthew and Jonathan from their early elementary years through their high school graduations. Together, the four of them started Home School Enrichment in late 2002. You can reach her at kari@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.
Originally published in the May/Jun '09 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine.
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