I began to home school during the summer of 1992. Each day I set out to make learning so much fun that my two kids, ages 5 & 3 at the time, wouldn’t even know that we were ‘doing school’. I wished to give my children a love of learning. I hoped to help them to discover an amazing world that was created by a truly awesome God. I wished to show them that God had plans for mankind from the beginning of Creation and still has one today. Imagine my surprise and embarrassment when skeptical family or critical strangers would query my children at the end of a weekday, “What did you do in school today?”
“We didn’t do school today,” they’d innocently answer while I wished to disappear in a crack in the floor. Lacking confidence in my legal right to home school and, most importantly, in my personal ability to do a good job, I’d sometimes plead with the concerned adult, “Ask them what we did today.” Upon answering that question, my children would describe a game we played or some books we read or the leaves we collected and sorted or the animals that we’d captured at nearby ponds or creeks and had safely nestled into our school house in the back yard where we could observe them for a few days or longer as we chose. These young children had absolutely no idea that the fun things that we did throughout each day had any educational value, but I could explain to these sometimes well-intentioned inquisitors a lengthy purpose I had for these activities if they cared to inquire. Knowing that the truancy officer or CPS worker could show up at our door if too much alarm was created, I trembled each time this scenario played out. You might think that these occurrences were rare, but, on the contrary, they happened often. Sometimes it was relatives, but even strangers seem compelled to become inquisitors when they learn that some young mom has dared to take up the task of home educating their children.
Over the years, as I saw my kids learning and growing and maturing, I developed a confidence that the same God that had called me to educate my kids would also equip me to do so. Though I knew that I was far from doing a perfect job, I began to trust that God would take my feeble efforts and redeem them. As some family members or strangers would try to tear us down or attack us for not following the conventional method of sending our kids to be educated by strangers and trained by their peers, I learned to let their attacks roll off of my shoulders…as often as I could. As I watched my kids interact with their peer-dependent, spoon-fed, public-schooled relatives and neighbors, I grew stronger in my conviction that we were doing the right thing for our family.
Some days my job felt harder than I wanted it to be. Some days I wanted to quit. Some days the kitchen sink clogged up on the same day that the toddler cut the cat’s ear off at the same time that little brother clobbered an older sibling, all while I was too tired from staying up late the night before planning school lessons and cleaning the house. On those long days, I reminded myself that “some days are like that, even in Australia.” If I’d packed off my precious children so that I could go to work each day either at home or at a job away from home, or even if I'd stayed in my empty, wonderfully clean home while said children were in an institutional school program, I knew that I would still have some days like that — maybe even more of them. When I’d cry out to God and ask Him if I could quit home educating my children, I knew the answer was no. How can you quit doing what you know is the right thing to do? When I finished having my pity party, I’d tell myself to just breathe, pray, stand up, and find joy. It might take me a while to get those seemingly simple things done, but I’d eventually find my joy again and press on. I pray that you will, also.